A Hands-on Review of ICS on Galaxy SII

This is a first-hand review of Android Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) running on a Samsung Galaxy SII. While ICS lets you browse faster and helps you unlock your device using facial recognition, it also comes with a few drawbacks. Read on to know more…

For a long time, we Androidians kept hearing about the coolness of Google’s Android Ice Cream Sandwich. Much before it was rolled out to the masses, the phone was garnering accolades and awards, and was even voted the ‘Phone of the Year’ by T3 Gadgets. Well, I was fortunate enough to be among the first to have it working on my Galaxy SII. Here are my experiences…
As soon as you upgrade your phone with ICS, you can feel the difference immediately, right after turning on your mobile device. It configures all the applications, contacts and a lot more, in a jiffy. And once you get to the home screen, you will see a remarkable difference in speed—it’s cool and fast. But do not expect the original interface of ICS (like you see on the Google Nexus), so unfortunately, there are no virtual buttons. This version of ICS is garnished by the Samsung Touchwiz 4.0. Like it or hate it, you have to live with it.
Besides the speed-up, till date I haven’t even once faced any hanging issues. That’s stability indeed!
The changes in looks and the menu include:
You will find some new options, like ‘Restart’, in the menu, when you long-press the power button.
Screen-shots are now officially taken by ‘Vol Down + Power Button’. The default location where shots are saved has changed to /sdcard/pictures/screenshots.
The Settings menu has also undergone a revamp, with the menu categorised for easy scrolling.

Experience the best of android technology using a Samsung Galaxy SII phone.

Scrolling
Touchwiz replaces the Apple-patented bounce effect (while going up and down the scrolling menu) with blue illumination that lights up once you reach the end of the menu.
The home screen now wraps around—you can scroll from the last screen onward to the first, without having to move backwards from the last screen.

Face-recognition-based unlocking
This feature is one of the highlights of the new OS. It immediately unlocks your device, unless you choose to try it from a distance, which takes longer for the device to recognise you.
However, this doesn’t mean that your phone won’t be unlocked if it fails to recognise you—there is a fall-back option available.
One of the drawbacks of this feature is that it does not work properly in the dark (outdoors as well as indoors) due to the lack of a backlight.
Also, it’s easy to crack. Someone can use your photograph to unlock your phone.

Applications/widgets
The applications menu has a nice look and feel. It allows you to view all recently visited applications as a list of thumbnails of the apps.
A new and better-looking GTalk messenger is another highlight. Though the application is a bit heavy, who cares—we have a 1.2 GHz dual-core device.
The e-mail client is a bit heavier and slow. The previous e-mail client was a clear winner in this regard.
Once you start browsing the applications, you may find some new icons in the applications menu, like Google+ and Messenger.
You can have Live Application widgets on your home screen. You can add your mail box, Facebook, and even play music, right from your home screen.

Wi-Fi
Now this is a big disappointment. The handset takes a long time to scan and enable Wi-Fi on the phone.

Data usage
The new ICS allows you to view the data flow from your handset as graphical reports. It comes in handy if you are on a limited data plan. You can select different cycles to view data usage.
It also provides an option to toggle between cellular and Wi-Fi data usage, which is a welcome feature.
You can also find out which apps are using the maximum data transfer.

Kies Air
The upgrade lets you ‘Sync with Simplicity’ and eases phone-to-phone data transfer. For example, you start the Kies Server on Device A and open Kies on Device B. You shake the device twice, and it will identify Device A and initiate the data transfer.
These are the broad features of the new ICS. I will be experimenting with the device further, so stay tuned…

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