Samsung tries to keep an old model relevant, introduces the Galaxy S II Plus

10 Jan 2013

Samsung’s Galaxy S II was released more than a year and a half ago, but the former Smartphone of the Year 2012 is not being put out to pasture yet, as the South Korean smartphone giant believes a minimal upgrade is enough to spark interest once again.

For the most part, the Galaxy S II Plus is remarkably similar to its predecessor. Same size. Same 4.3-inch Super AMOLED display. Same 1.2GHz dual-core processor. Same 1,650mAh battery. Same 8MP rear camera and 2MP front-facing camera.

So far, so samey.

Because most of the new features are contained within the smartphone’s software. The Galaxy S II Plus runs on Android Jelly Bean version 4.1.2 and features an enhanced UI, closer to that of the S III, and an easier-to-use notification panel.

New technologies introduced with the S III have been added, like Direct Call, which enables a user to dial a contact on screen simply by bringing the phone to his or her ear, Smart Stay that keeps the display active as long as the user is looking at the screen, and Smart Alert that displays notifications just by picking up the phone.

Pop-up Video, which allows users to play video in a resizable pop-up window anywhere on the screen while simultaneously running other apps, has also been added, and S Voice with Voice Unlock.

It’s still got 1GB RAM, though its internal memory has dropped from 16GB to 8GB.

Samsung claims the rear camera now has zero-lag shutter speed, and has added functions like Group Facetag, Face Zoom, and Buddy Photo Share, which quickly shares images with those pictures.

So, basically, Galaxy S II Plus owners will have the S II, but with a much better operating system and some of Samsung’s new technology treats added to the mix. Some will question the point of stuffing new technologies into an old handset, but the S II continues to be a popular handset, now moving into the mid-range as fancy new units are launched, and Samsung deserves some credit for still believing in its previous models in what has become a throwaway culture.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.