Android Phones: Samsung S II Skyrocket Smartphone for AT&T

PHOTO: Samsung S II Skyrocket for AT&T.PlaySamsung
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Samsung's Galaxy S II Skyrocket smartphone -- just released in white -- wants to be big and small at the same time, and somehow manages it.

Like many of the newest Android phones (take a look at the Motorola Droid Razr for comparison), it is very sleek and very flat. The Skyrocket's case is only a third of an inch deep. But it has a large, bright Super AMOLED Plus screen, 4.5 inches across diagonally. With a screen that big, its shape reminds one of an old-fashioned pocket calendar book -- which it renders obsolete, of course, along with your web browser, calendar, camera, game console and, in some cases, your television.

It's notable that in a year dominated by news about Apple -- the death of Steve Jobs and the announcement, just the day before, of the iPhone 4S -- Samsung is the one other brand that appears to be doing well in the smartphone wars. Its phones are sleek and bright, and have managed to take on some of the aura of coolness that some market analysts said was Apple's alone.

The Skyrocket is so sleek, to be honest, that one worries about dropping it, more so than with some other phones. The corners and back are sensuously rounded, which make it gorgeous but a little hard to hold. It's tougher than it looks, but a skin or case may make you feel better.

It happens to be packed. If you're in one of the (relatively few) cities where AT&T offers 4G LTE service, you'll notice how fast the phone is. It has a 1.5 GHz dual core processor, 1GB of RAM, an eight-megapixel camera with an LED flash and 1080p high-definition video, a two megapixel front-facing camera, built-in speakers and more. It weights 4.66 oz. Depending on where you are and what deals AT&T is offering, you may be able to get it for $150 with a contract.

Camera makers, watch out: It does take decent pictures, even in low light, and uploads them to Facebook or other sites with impressive speed.

It does have its shortcomings. Many users on chat boards agreed that battery life was unimpressive; the phone will spend a lot of time plugged into the wall. It plays YouTube videos decently, though we thought they looked crisper on some competitors, such as the iPhone and the Droid Razr.

And the touch screen is, well, a bit touchy. More so than on other phones, there were times we thought we were swiping from one screen view to the next -- and found ourselves accidentally opening an app instead.

That said, it is a sleek, versatile handheld, especially if you want a big, bright screen. And -- oh, by the way -- it's pretty good at making phone calls too.

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