It seems like the rumor mill has been in top gear lately with all the stories regarding the anticipated release of the Samsung Galaxy S II. The device has been a hit overseas, notching more than 5 million sales in just 85 days on the market. It’s doing especially well in European countries and on the Korean market. For comparison, the original Galaxy S took 125 days to reach this same number. All this success overseas builds up suspense for a United States release. Rumors are flying about which carrier might pick up their own version first, and whether or not carrier-specific hardware/software customizations will be made. To be frank, this device has the potential to completely rock the world of Android in the United States, or turn up D.O.A. Let’s take a look at 5 ways Big Red could [but hopefully won’t] ruin the Galaxy S II U.S. release.
Despite the lack of 4G LTE devices or coverage areas in the United States, it’d hard to deny that 4G wireless connectivity is the way of the future. There are a lot of you who would pass on a 3G Galaxy S II in favor of the legendary Bionic 4G. I’m definitely in the same boat. The rumors of a non-LTE launch stem from a few things: The GSII’s ridiculously thin form factor and the most recent Verizon releases.
It’s unconfirmed, but it’s believed that the current GSII’s frame is actually too thin for the larger radios required to fit into thicker 4G devices. The most recent Verizon 4G LTE phones have been pretty beefy – HTC Thunderbolt, Samsung Droid Charge, etc. See the pattern? Also, the most recent VZW devices, like the Droid X2, Droid 3 and others have foregone LTE connectivity entirely. Even the Droid Bionic is rumored to be delayed because of LTE vs battery related issues.
Verizon is not everyone’s favorite carrier when it comes to treatment of Vanilla Android devices. Most of us power users appreciated a slick, clean version of Android out of the box with no carrier-installed crappy software. Touchwiz itself has come a long way with version 4.0, so that’s not a huge issue – it’s the VCast apps and preinstalled crap that could get in the way. It may not necessarily ruin the launch of the Galaxy S II, but it would certainly hinder the experience.
Samsung’s preinstalled applications aren’t as bad as they may seem. Although the hubs cannot be installed, they’re pretty lightweight and don’t force themselves to run in the background [like CityID has been known to]. TouchWiz is among the lightest of the custom skins form all the major hardware manufacturers, and the GSII’s impressive specs should keep these issues to a minimum. If worst comes to worst, let’s hope we can root, flash a ROM and design the software experience ourselves.
This possibility could have been placed under the bloatware section, but it deserves a whole crappy category of its own. The buzz that has surrounded the Galaxy S II recently has included some speculation on the naming; one of the possible names is the ‘Fascinate II.’ Verizon’s original Samsung Fascinate was a damn good phone, but was damned from the start with an uncharacteristic removal of Google stock apps and the addition of Bing search, maps, and other applications. People buy Google phones for the Google experience! If there’s anything I absolutely cannot have when I considering a purchase of a GSII, it’s Bing. Don’t get me wrong: I loved my Fascinate and just about everything about it. I removed as much of the bloatware as I could, installed all of the Google apps from the market and threw LauncherPro Plus over TouchWiz and I was happy! I just don’t want to see the GSII sales go down the drain because of a bad carrier decision that hampered a previous generation device with huge potential.
The Samsung Galaxy S II hardware is makes it one of the best Android phones of all time. Plain and simple. This shows even more with incredible sales and great reception overseas. Like the previous Galaxy S, however, this phone has the possibility of being rebranded and renamed for each individual carrier. Remember the Fascinate, Captivate and Vibrant? All phones had slightly different hardware and slightly different feature sets. This isn’t major, but it crowds the market and can even confuse potential buyers. This one isn’t completely Verizon’s fault, but hopefully Samsung can work with U.S. carriers to avoid this potential disarray.
There have also been some pictures flying around of a Galaxy S II looking device toting a keyboard. To be honest, this would be an extreme case of carrier tinkering, but it’s always possible that a new device version could be introduced. That being said, it’s hard to argue with the numbers: The Galaxy S II in its purest form is selling too well to ignore!
There’s something else floating out there that we unfortunately can’t ignore: The Samsung Galaxy S 3. Yep – As much as we’d like to think we’re getting the most future-proof possible device every time, it’s hard to guarantee. If Verizon [or all of the U.S. carriers] take too long into the product cycle to make it available, the GSII becomes an old phones. Advancements in mobile technology are incredibly time sensitive, and the GSIII release mere months after your purchase isn’t completely out of the question.
The iPhone 5 is also rumored to be released later this year. If Samsung and Verizon want to coordinate a GSII release date strategically around the potential announcement, it needs to be done with extreme thoughtfulness and intelligence. Otherwise, the sooner the better. Hurry up, Verizon!
[UPDATE]: Galaxy S II US Sign-up Page is now live!
Conclusion: The Galaxy S II is a highly anticipated device in the states, no doubt. But it’s not the only one. Would any of thes points affect your decision to purchase the GSII? I know for a fact that the lack of 4G would make me think twice. Let us know in the comments!