Gadget Review: Android OS 4 on Samsung Galaxy S II

Just last week there was a tweet about Android OS 4.0 or Ice Cream Sandwich will be distributed out last Saturday 10 March 2012. The Korean Chaebol quickly squashed the news and say nothing of that sort will happen. This week, news of the update for the European markets is up and one thing leads to another and I have updated the phone via a 3rd party method (http://www.theandroidsoul.com/xxlpq/).

The short review: It kicks ass.

The Long Review:

The Installation

The download of the Odin and the actual firmware took a good hour. Not surprising since everyone wants to have the latest if possible. The steps are easy and I am done pretty quickly after downloading completes.

The first impression is the amount of heat generated on first installation. I harbour the guess that the phone is hunting for all the necessary installation details from the telco and get the phone connected. By the time everything is done, everything seems normal except that my GO User Interface Theme has gone back to default but the pages and icons remains largely the same.

Good so no major surprises.

Photography Apps

Photography genes then start kicking and I turn on the default Samsung camera app. It was on for a while and then disappears again. Tried a few more times and then I have to find clues what happened and this ‘Media Scanning is Running’ message keeps popping up.  I turned it off and took out the SD card and do it again. The message still appears. I also check my photo Gallery app and the same thing happens. I nearly throw the phone against the wall when all of sudden it worked!

During the time, I have also tried other camera apps and picture browser such as JustPictures and Quicksnap. They do not have such problems so it was quite disconcerting to see that the default app from Samsung has more problems!  I just hope it don’t appear again!

By the time my ordeal has gone I notice the battery has gone down below 40%.

Still I prod on, checking out the camera. In short. Things are way snappier than Gingerbread. Everything you touch was turned on immediately. Take the shot? there in micro seconds. The bummer is that the camera is still the same o same o. AWB is crap. Colour is crap. But at least it has more controls than the cheapest Point and Shoot.

How about the Redesigned Gallery app with photo editor? Nowhere to be seen except for the original Samsung implementation. I wouldn’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing but I will be using the Photoshop.com app anyways.

Face Recognition

Never have I thought using my mugshot as a password of sorts. Even from one that has gone through Masters in IT and in security, I am still not very confident of face recognition. Then again, what is there to lose? I got my face ‘measured’ into biometrics and I am in and out of the phone just by looking at my phone dumb-ly. This would be the perfect phone for that evil Queen Witch of Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs.

Of course, being security trained, it was best that I put the other security measures just in case when the camera cannot ‘see’ you due to bad lighting conditions or it just happens that wife is trying to see which girl-friends has been calling me (notice the hyphenate).

Faster Contact Calling and Messaging

A new feature was the ability to call or message a contact just by browsing your contact list and then when you find him or her, either swipe towards right to call or towards left to message. Neat. Very neat and it works really well IMHO.

Setting of Data Limit (So that you won’t pay exorbitant Data rates)

ICS have a way help you manage the apps that need to access the mobile broadband usage. A great tool since a lot of us do want to save money no thanks to the horror stories we hear that people are paying for thousands of dollars just checking FB messages overseas.  I just off my phone for the duration of the trip.

For those who do have heart attach if they don’t see their phone screen every once in a while, then this data control thingie is good. I do use a Singtel data usage widget though so this is an added tool to be on top of things.

There are other features that are quite cool which you can read here but not all are implemented in Samsung Galaxy S2 as far as I have tried. I may be wrong.

http://www.android.com/about/ice-cream-sandwich/

All said and done, I still go back to using GO Launcher rather than the default TouchWiz User Interface by Samsung so there are certain things that are better implemented in the former even when it is already on Gingerbread.

As for upgrading the phone firmware using KIES,  it is not working right now after the firmware upgrade as the KIES do not recognise the phone being able to upgrade via that channel. Weird coming from a software that actually recognises my phone being connected.  To me it is not a bad problem since the phone will be traded in again in 10 months time.

What’s next? It will be ICS in ASUS Transformer Prime Tablet at the end of the month. Hopefully by the time I can have it for my trip to Western Australia again, this time an expedition to capture more beautiful pictures for Tourism Western Australia.

So all said and done, the ICS upgrade has some hiccups but it works well with the phone now. Will update more if there are major problems.

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