Hands on with the Samsung Galaxy S II

HTC's unveiling of the Sensation dual-core superphone was an undeniable highlight of the Gadget Show Live event at the NEC this week, but Samsung had an answer it was willing to share with us: the Galaxy S II.

Designed as a follow-on to the company's hugely successful Galaxy S, and continuing the Galaxy branding that is shared between the company's Android smartphones and tablets, the Galaxy S II offers much the same specifications as HTC's marvel.

A 1.2GHz dual-core Exynos processor hides behind a 4.27-inch Super AMOLED Plus display - which offers a brightness and clarity that truly has to be seen to be believed. A Samsung spokesperson was unable to confirm battery life figures, but claimed that the efficiency present in the dual-core processor coupled with the lower power draw of the new display type compared to the Super AMOLED non-plus used in the original Galaxy S would mean a longer battery life.

Like the Sensation, the Galaxy S II includes an eight-megapixel camera on the rear with an LED flash, while the front-facing camera - which can take advantage of Android 2.3's in-built video-conferencing facility - gets a boost to two megapixels. The rear is also capable of recording full 1080p HD, which can be transmitted to compatible Samsung Smart TVs wirelessly or via a optional HDMI adapter.

Samsung's custom user interface, TouchWiz 4.0, is included - and while there are those who dislike anything other than plain Android we found it responsive and impressively stylish during testing. The extra power of the dual-core processor is certainly noticeable during use, with websites scrolling significantly faster than on any other handset we were able to test.

All the extra features don't come at a cost to size and weight, however: the Samsung Galaxy S II is just 8.49mm thick, and weighs surprisingly little - although much of this is down to the plastic casing, which does feel a little flimsy.

A Samsung spokesperson confirmed that the Galaxy S II will be launching in the UK in May, priced at £520 SIM-free, and that while Android 2.3.3 'Gingerbread' will be the default OS a free upgrade to Android 2.4 'Ice-Cream' will be made available at the earliest opportunity.

To see the new Galaxy S II features in action, check out the exclusive hands-on video on our sister site, TechBuff.com.