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Samsung Galaxy S II Review: A star to behold

Our review unit came in a compact black box and we noticed there's a round yellow sticker on the front that says "No Chinese Menu". It means that the smartphone supports various languages from English, Spanish, French to Portuguese and Korean, except Chinese. However, Samsung said that the batch of phones from end August will come with Chinese language support. For those of you who have bought the Samsung Galaxy S II with the "No Chinese Menu" sticker, the manufacturer did mention in the retail box that you can download the Chinese language support from the Android Market – do a search for Google Pinyin IME. However, after you installed the Google Pinyin IME, you need to enable it and also change the input method in order to type in Chinese (via Pinyin).

The bundled accessories include the warranty card, power adapter, USB cable, earphones with additional ear buds and a brochure that introduces some popular applications on the Samsung Apps Store.

We have to hand it to Samsung to come up with a stylish Galaxy S II which is slimmer than its predecessor – it measures 8.49mm as compared to 9.9mm of the Galaxy S. It also weighs about the same as the Galaxy S though the Galaxy S II sports a larger 4.27-inch display while its older sibling only comes with a 4-inch screen. Tthe manufacturer has chosen to use plastic for the phone's body which resulted in the phone taking a hit in the 'how it feels' department when held in one's hand.

The Android phone has seven home screens and you can populate each screen with widgets you want as well as change wallpaper. Simply tap and hold on any of the home screen and the options will pop up. Pressing the Applications icon brings up the phone menu, and like the Galaxy S, the menu is navigated in a horizontal swipe manner. At the time of review, the Galaxy S II comes with four menu screens. But when you install more apps, the phone will automatically create a new menu screen to accomodate the additions.

The volume controls are placed on the left while only the power button is on the right, unlike most phones which have it at the top. Below the screen is the home button at the centre and touch-sensitive back and menu keys. The 3.5mm audio jack is at the top though, while the base holds the microUSB connector for charging the battery and data transfer.

An 8-megapixel camera with built-in LED flash is what you will find when we flipped over the phone. The rear cover is a thin sheet of plastic that is fairly fragile with a tendency of snapping if too much force is exerted on it. The cover can be easily removed though and beneath it, we find the SIM card slot that is just below the 8-megapixel camera, a microSD memory card slot and 3.7V 1650mAh lithium-ion battery.

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