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General First Impressions

Discussion in 'Android Devices' started by Sycobob, Sep 16, 2011.

  1. Sycobob

    Sycobob Well-Known Member
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    Well I traded in my Photon today for the GS2. After playing with it for a few hours, I'm convinced it was completely worth it. I thought I'd share some of my thoughts for others that may be on the fence, or just interested in the phone in general.

    PROs

    My biggest concern going was the screen. Not the whole 4.5 inches of Super AMOLED+ goodness, but rather the resolution. I was afraid of WVGA looking pixelated at that size, especially after seeing the Wirefly review. Turns out, my fears were completely unfounded. Not only does it look great, it looks better than the Photons qHD 4.3" screen. Sure, it's ever so slightly more jagged if you look closely at curves, but it doesn't have that nasty 'screen door effect' the Photon suffers from.

    My favorite attribute of this phone is by far the profile though. The Photon felt solid and comfortable, but frankly it was fat and heavy by comparison. I don't mind a hefty phone, but there's something to be said about a profile this sleek. Reviews don't do this quality justice.

    The notification is much larger and brighter than the Photon. I found my self staring at the Photon for a few seconds to figure out if the light was flashing. It was also harder to see the light when not viewing the phone straight on. No such issues with the GS2.

    So far, battery life seems good enough. For one, it's actually easier to see the drain pattern since the battery usage plot shows 1% increments instead of 10% increments like the Photon. I charged it to full (~97% is when it said it was full), installed about a dozen apps (over Wifi), set up my Accounts, apps, and layout and I've been listening to Google Music over the last hour and I'm at ~93%. This is with 4G and GPS disabled and intermittent service. It's worth noting, however, that it took twice as long to charge than my Photon did. It takes about 2 hours for a full charge, my Photon would charge in almost half that.

    Battery follow up: I got 12 hours of heavy usage yesterday. I expect >24 hours with moderate usage.

    One of the things that bugged me about that Photon was that Blur and Google Services were keeping the phone awake 40% of the time, no matter what I did. I was even disabling things like using network time. Factory reset, updated PRL and Profile, disabled absolutely everything I could find, didn't set up an email account or use text messaging and still couldn't get below about 40% awake time (when the screen was off). The GS2 is almost never awake when the screen is off. By eye, I'd say less than 5% of the time.

    Not having to use an app for screenshots makes me happy.

    The camera blows away the MoPho.

    This one's small, but it boots in just a few seconds. Much faster than the Photon.

    CONs

    I do have a couple minor knocks as well. I get about 1 bar less service on average at home. Of course, I don't know if that's an absolute difference, or merely how the number of bars is calculated.

    There is no option to mute alarms when the phone is on vibrate or silent. I wrote and app to fix this: http://androidforums.com/application-announcements/419758-tool-quiet-time.html

    I find the outer edge of the phone a little slippery, but the textured back helps a bunch.

    Like mentioned above, charging is quite slow. I'm still getting average times, but it's 2+ hours for a full charge.

    The camera lens does indeed seem to be in danger of being scratched, as mentioned by a few others. The aluminum bezel around the camera sticks out a fraction of a millimeter and the lens is recessed about half that distance. I don't think it quite touches when the phone is laying down (it's difficult to tell), but if it were to sit on any sort of debris (grain of sand) it's going to dig right in. The LED window is flush.

    I also miss the text messaging app on my Photon. On the GS2, when you're typing the input box expands to 4 lines, plus the keyboard and you end up with a tiny window (just 1/3 of the screen) to actually see the conversation. You're lucky to see 2 messages. It just doesn't look as slick as the Blur version either.

    There's a bug where scrolling becomes very twitchy when the phone is plugged in. It looks like this happened on the Moment and maybe Epic as well. Still seeing exactly which circumstances cause it.

    You have to hit the capacitive keys right on the icons. It's not like the Photon where you slap the general vicinity and it works.

    The sound isn't quite as good. As someone who will be using the phone extensively for music, I can say it's not that much worse.

    The notification light is only two color. Red and blue. Presumably it should be capable of purple too, but I've yet to see it and Light Flow couldn't get it to work.

    I think Blur is a much nicer interface than TouchWiz, personally. The launcher, lock screen and messaging app are all ugly as sin on TouchWiz. LauncherPro+ and WidgetLocker were among the first apps to grace my GS2.

    The installed Swype keyboard doesn't automatically insert spaces in front of one letter words like 'a' and 'I'.


    Anyway, that's my 2 cents. I'll try to add more as I come across it if people are interested. I'm willing to look at specific features if anyone has questions as well.

    Feel free to chime in with your own woos and woes, I'm interested in hearing what other users have to say about their new toy.

    More info in this thread

    Live wallpaper selection and screen in direct sunlight: Post 5

    Call quality, GPS, call quality, and speakerphone: Post 12 (Follow up on GPS: Post 18)

    Second opinion on the feel of the phone (regarding weight, mostly): Post 28

    Screen off animation (two posts): Posts 71-72
     

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  2. wynand32

    wynand32 Well-Known Member
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    Would love to get your impression of the screen in direct sunlight, compared to the Photon.
     
  3. da man

    da man Well-Known Member
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    What is the live wallpaper selecton like. Any new ones. Does it have the microbes LWP that the nexus s phones have? I was hoping being a samsung it will be there.
     
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  4. Drop Knowledge

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    This, and if you've noticed any processing speed differences in general or w/ certain apps.
     
  5. Sycobob

    Sycobob Well-Known Member
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    Passable. It's not a bright as the Photon at max and it also doesn't compensate as well using the sensor. It's a sunny enough day and on automatic it didn't max out. It was somewhere in the 50-75% range if I had to guess. When I maxed it out myself, it was readable, though not excellent. If you provide some shade with your hand it's just fine. Indoors it seems just as bright as the Photon, but outdoors the Photon has it beat by just a bit

    [​IMG]

    That's all of 'em.

    I don't do much that taxes the system. I never got more than a momentary hiccup out of the Photon. So far at least, I haven't seen the GS2 stutter or slow in any way at all. The most I've done is maybe stream music while downloading one app and using another (and turning the screen on and off at the same time).
     
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  6. jbsg02

    jbsg02 Well-Known Member
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    I'd like to hear reports about the battery life after a few days of use
     
  7. 2strokenut

    2strokenut Well-Known Member
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    The screen on the photon is junk so this isn't surprising. With that said I will be trading in my 3d today for it lol
     
  8. taylormah

    taylormah Well-Known Member
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    Also, what is the watt/volt/amp rating of the wall charger you are using? and is it any different than what comes packaged with the device?
     
  9. Sycobob

    Sycobob Well-Known Member
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    Bah, I didn't want to crawl under my desk lol

    enV2 charger: 5.1V .7A
    GS2 charger: 5V 1A

    So yea, looks like it will charge almost 50% faster with the included charger. Still puts it around and hour and a half to charge.
     
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  10. sophie999

    sophie999 Newbie
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    Thanks for the review, Sycobob.

    I am trying to upgrade my TP2 and deciding between the Photon and GSII.

    My main concern is the phone part. I know photon had phenomenal reviews as far as phone and data reception goes and call quality. I remember some users said they had several bars in areas they never knew Sprint service existed! Aside from having one less bar, how do the two compare. Call quality on your end and on the other end? Data reception, both 3G and Wimax?

    Speakerphone?
    GPS OK?

    For the basic tasks of web browsing, watching videos, navigation - is there a significant speed difference between the two?

    Any other pro/cons of either?

    I am trying to make a decision by the end of this weekend. Hopefully there are enough users who tried both phones to answer my questions.

    Thanks a lot.

    Sincerely,

    Sophie
     
  11. omegafiler

    omegafiler Newbie
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    I've been downloading apps since I got the phone. So far, I'm quite impressed. Despite it feeling so light, it has a good solid feel. The light weight just doesn't give the impression of durability that you get with the heavier phones. So I think I'll get a case before I start throwing it around. :)

    The screen is great, no issues viewing in direct daylight. And it defaults to a dimmer than expected brightness on Auto. I prefer this, in particular in a dark room. I always found it annoying on my EVO4G how it always remain way to bright in dark rooms. I'm still not happy about WXGA, but like others have said; just use it, and you'll forget all about that "low" resolution.

    Battery life has been better than expected considering all of the 4G downloading I'm doing right now. It'll take a few more days to see how it really does, of course. I'm sure I'll want an extended battery (if somebody makes one), but I couldn't even find a case locally. Which is expected.

    All wireless signals work noticeably better. Really fast 4G and GPS locks. About the same if not maybe an extra bar here and there.

    TouchWiz seems to be... functional. There's just not a whole lot to it. Very basic. Especially that poor excuse for a lock screen. It's just an image with the date/time you slide out of the way. I'll play with it a bit more before I give it a final judgement and install LauncherPRO and load up some Beautiful widgets.

    Root will be awesome when/if that happens. Either way, it's an awesome upgrade from my EVO 4G. :)
     
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  12. Sycobob

    Sycobob Well-Known Member
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    Keep in mind I have poor service at home.

    Call quality isn't great. I can hear the other person fine, but my gf said there was a slight (not enough to be annoying) echo when I spoke. On speakerphone there was no echo but I sounded distant (with the phone 8 inches from my face). I could hear her just fine, she sounded very clear. At max volume louder speaking made the front speaker crackle some. Stepping the volume down by one step fixed this. There's no Wimax in my area, so I can't comment on that. I actually get better data speeds with the GS2 using the Ookla Speedtest app.

    Surfing feels the same, which is to say bogged down and annoying to use. I chalk that up to poor reception in my area. I do all my surfing on Wifi since it's everywhere I go.

    Speakerphone was plenty loud enough for me, though likely not in a loud room.

    GPS locked my exact position within 3-4 seconds.

    Haven't navigated yet.

    I only had the Photon for 2 weeks and I never used 3G really, so I don't have a great baseline for comparison. I'm about to go run some errands, so I'll have a better idea of how it performs in a few hours.

    Unless call quality is of utmost importance to you though, I see no reason to take the Photon over the GS2. That's just my personal opinion though.
     
  13. Sycobob

    Sycobob Well-Known Member
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    Haha, yea one of the first things I did was install LauncherPro and WidgetLocker. TouchWiz is uglier than Blur by a long shot. At least I still get the cool swipe on contacts to text/call
     
  14. tbhausen

    tbhausen Android Enthusiast
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    This is an oversimplification. Certain performance trade-offs are made in order to achieve the low power consumption and high brightness/daylight readability of the PenTile screen. These are well-documented. I, and many others, feel these trade-offs are reasonable in order to achieve the benefits. The comment about shading with the hand drives this home for me. There's never been a need to do that with the Photon.
     
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  15. BenChase7

    BenChase7 Android Expert
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    humm. I just went to my local Sprint (corporate) store, to check it out. There is no doubt this is one of the nicest phones on the market. However, I did a side by side data speed test with my current EVO 4G and the SGS2. My EVO kicked its ass... on 3G EVO was pulling 800 and the SGS2 was pulling about 400 kbps. I tried 3 times, and every time was very consistent. Both showed full bars of signal. WTF?
     
  16. you2

    you2 Android Expert
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    I guess this is the right place for the comment. I had looked at the photon when it first came out and was very impressed (esp the screen quality outdoors - i know a lot of people think the screen on the photon is junk but I actually found it very good - almost as good as the samsung and light years better than the evo3d. It is bright and clear with decent saturation).
    -
    I spent about 2 hours playing with the photon and epic touch at the store this afternoon. It was not completely fair relative to if i own the phone esp given that they were harnessed but anyways this is what i observed:

    Neither could lock on gps in the store (i disabled all location services but gps); with wifi location on they both locked quickly).
    The epic touch screen was more vibrant but the photon was brighter and sharper.
    the epic camera blows away the photon
    (this one really bugs me) the on/off of the epic is in a bad place. I repeated hit it by accident trying to change volume
    the epic is a bit wider than i want - had to stretch my hand a little
    the photon is a bit denser/center of gravity is more annoying due to density
    the photon is slightly louder than the epic but the epic was clearer and generally sounded a little bit better. Both sounded about the same as a phone but the epics sounded better for youtube videos
    i managed to crash the photon playing with the doc (they had a doc with a terminal in the store)
    -
    I'm a little mixed between the two phones; the epic has the really silly location for the on/off switch and is a tad wider than i wnat else I would definitely go with that phone. The photon is brighter and probably a lot easier to read outdoors (not sure yet becuase they would not let me take the epic outside but i had played with a photon out doors a couple of months ago and it was great out doors in very bright light).
    -
    I'm think i'm going to wait a week and see what sort of issues/complaints develop with the epic before deciding.
     
  17. pb_2000

    pb_2000 Newbie
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    Go to the android market, search for (free) live wallpaper and eat your hear out.
    Be aware that they eat more battery that a stic one.
    My fafvourite at this moment are Koi Free, Liquid Physics and Bubble free.
     
  18. Sycobob

    Sycobob Well-Known Member
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    From what I've seen, certain settings and updates can have a large impact on network performance. There's a thread in the Photon forums about improving 3G speeds by updating the PRL and Profile on the phone. Maybe something similar applies to the SG2. I'm going to try to find a really good service spot and see what sort of max speeds I get eventually.


    Chalk this one up to personal preference I suppose, because I love the button placement. I think it's much more convenient to hit the button without moving my hand. I can pull the phone out of my pocket and turn it on in one motion and without having to readjust my hand. My index finger (I'm left handed) naturally rests just below the power button, so hitting the volume rocker doesn't give me any trouble.

    Also, as a follow up for sophie999, while I was out I looked up a barber shop on Google and followed the prompt to navigate there. I had 4 out of 6 bars and it was reasonably quick at finding the result, maybe 10 seconds or so. Navigation was awesome! Everything about it was fast and accurate. It zeroed in on my location as soon as it was open (had to turn on GPS) and it updated in real time (or at least checked often enough and extrapolated in between). When I say real time, I mean it showed me moving on the map, not jumping forward every few seconds. I don't know how common that is on smartphones, but that's the first time I've seen it. I was highly impressed.

    It also didn't nuke my battery like I expected. It was a short trip though.
     
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  19. da man

    da man Well-Known Member
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    Ya, I know they will eat my battery, but I love lwp'rs so muc. Plus I sit at a desk all day and can charge anytime i like.
     
  20. Draiko

    Draiko Well-Known Member
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    Choosing between the Epic 4G Touch and the Photon 4G is the most wonderful decision a person can have. I have a Photon and spent some time playing with the E4GT. Long story short, I'm keeping my Photon.

    Both devices are stellar. Both have great advantages. It simply comes down to a matter of personal opinion. One isn't definitively better than the other.

    I wrote up a rather large post on my reasons for keeping my MoPho in the Photon forum but I'll summarize it all with one sentence;

    The Photon 4G is the first Android phone I have handled that gives me no real reason to root.
     
  21. simcha

    simcha Android Enthusiast
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    I have to say that I'm just amazed that the Evo 3D gets no love in this thread. LOL! It looks like most folks are trying to make their decision between the Photon and the Epic Touch. That was unexpected for me and I'm sure it was unexpected for Sprint since there was all that hoopla in advertizing for the Evo 3D, almost no advertizing for the Photon, and I've just started noticing a few ads for the Galaxy S II of which the Epic Touch is a member. However, I have yet to see a Sprint ad for the Epic Touch or the Photon on television.

    It's interesting what actually happens when users actually get to touch, look at, and use the products and they make their decisions. It seems like advertizing didn't do much for the Evo 3D and the lack of advertizing didn't hurt the Epic Touch or the Photon.

    It also tells me that we have a happy time as Sprint customers. We have two killer phones from which to choose. Finally Sprint has been carrying great phones that we actually want. What a happy choice we all have to make (Epic Touch vs. Photon).

    Just an observation. (Note to self, go to the Sprint store to visit with an Epic Touch.) :D
     
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  22. you2

    you2 Android Expert
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    I considered the evo3d when it came out and it lost on numerous points (my opinion). The screen wasn't that hot; it was heavy and bulky; the sound quality was poor; it has had numerous issues with the phone and the reception was not that great. Also hte screen completely washes out outdoors (and this is very important for me since I like to use the phone outside). If you read the evo3d forum you will see numerous complaints and most of the issues folks complain about are important to myself. If you read the sensation or photon forums as well as the g2 forum there are complaints and one off issues but generally the temperature in those forum is much lower and most of the things folks complain about are not important to me.

    I tend to gauge an issue by the amount and type of issues. yes some folks have problems with phones overheating. It might be how they use them or a problem with the phone itself but the number of confirmations is realtively low. This contrast with for example the gps issue of the original galaxy s which was uniformly acknowledged.

    I'm technically competent to read what folks write and can generally weed out user errors or bad phones; this doesn't mean my evaluation is accurate but if a folks complains about something and I go and play with the phone in the store and see their complaint but decide it isn't relevant to how i would use the phone then i can safely discount it.
    -
    Anyways just trying to answer your question; for myself hte evo3d was not suitable and from what i've read and seen when I tested - it was not as good (relative to the other offerings). On the other side I felt the 3d aspect worked fairly well so it has some pluses I just think the epic touch and photon are better offerings and if i could mix and match features of hte two phones i would (i.e I have likes and dislikes about both).
     
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  23. Draiko

    Draiko Well-Known Member
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    Mix and match features of the Epic Touch and the Photon... that would be pretty awesome.

    The screen would be a tough call. I'm really happy with the Photon's screen especially since it's so visible in broad daylight. The screen door effect isn't noticeable most of the time (unless viewing a select few solid colors on the screen).

    I would opt for a Photon body that's as slim and almost as light as the E4GT. Buttonless. Photon's wireless loadout with a BCS500 (GSM+CDMA+WiMax+LTE super radio). Kickstand. nVidia Tegra Kal-el. Samsung's cameras. Moto's screen with an RGB stripe pixel arrangement (like the E4GT). Micro SDXC card slot. MHL port. Inductive Charging back as a standard feature. NFC. Webtop with ChromeOS replacing the current Linux build that Moto uses. Photon's accessories + a Lapdock and a Tablet dock.

    Not sure if I'd want a 4.5" or 4.3" display.

    While we're dreaming, throw in the ability for users to easily pick between Windows Phone OS and Android.
     
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  24. unplugged1

    unplugged1 Android Enthusiast
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    Some of us have come to the conclusion that Sprint is saving it's limited advertising budget for another phone supposedly coming out in October. This other phone is rumored not to use the Android system at all.

    Word is that Sprint expects this other phone to sell far better than the Photon and Epic 4G Touch combined. (This may be somewhat a self-fulfilling prophecy given the lack of Android phone advertising of late.)
     
  25. jfenton

    jfenton Well-Known Member
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    This phone is substantially faster on the internet than my previous evo or my wifes epic on the beach where we are currently for a few days.
     

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