Bright Super AMOLED display; Impressive camera performance; Slim design; Very fast LTE data speeds
Lower screen resolution than other LTE phones; Design might be too large for some;
The AT&T Galaxy S II Skyrocket features everything we like about Samsung's flagship Android phone, and adds blazing LTE speeds.
When Samsung introduced its trio of Galaxy S II phones this fall, its initial offering for AT&T was a little weak. It "only" had a 4.3-inch screen, while its Sprint and T-Mobile siblings had a 4.5-inch display. Enter the $149 Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket, which not only has a larger 4.5-inch display, but also runs on AT&T's fast 4G LTE network. But how does it compare to the other 4.5-inch LTE phones on AT&T? Read on to find out.
DesignT-Mobile Galaxy S II, and just 0.2 ounces heavier than the LG Nitro HD. The Skyrocket is almost 2 ounces lighter than the 6.2-ounce HTC Vivid, which has the same size screen. While our review unit was black, the Skyrocket is also available in white.
Make no mistake, though. This is a big phone. In our small hands, the phone was manageable when thumbing out text messages, but unwieldy when we tried taking a picture one-handed.
The top edge of the Skyrocket houses the 3.5mm headphone jack, while a microUSB port and microphone sit at the bottom edge. On the left side is a volume rocker with chrome dots indicating up and down, and on the right near the top is the power button.
Display & Audio
Listening to "Afternoon Delight" by the Starland Vocal Band on the Skyrocket sounded decent, but not remarkably better (or worse) than on other smartphones, However, it did distort slightly at the highest volume setting. The volume actually sounded fuller with the speaker face-down on our desk; placing the speaker face-up produced a tinnier sound. No matter which way the speaker was placed, we could clearly hear the song's high-pitched chirping birds and the low-end rumble of the whooshing skyrockets in flight.
The Skyrocket includes three virtual keyboards: the Android 2.3.5 keyboard, Samsung's blocky keyboard, and Swype. We preferred using the Android keyboard due to its predictive suggestions. We also really liked how its suggestion row turned to punctuation marks after each space. It was faster to choose from those suggestions than using a long press on the "." key to access them. Swype worked well, but gave our thumb a vigorous stretching workout when we traced letters across the expanse of the Skyrocket's screen.
Software & Interface
TouchWiz 4.0 doesn't add too much clutter to the stock interface. You get a few resizable live widgets that continuously update, including AccuWeather and AP mobile. Samsung also offers a tilt-to-zoom feature. When enabled, placing two fingers on the screen and tilting the device forward or back will make the screen zoom in or out. On the home screen, for example, you're able to view all of your screens at once. It's a little gimmicky, but still a cool feature. Lastly, simultaneously pressing the home button and power button will take a screenshot, making it easy for Android enthusiasts to share what their home screens look like.
The Skyrocket also comes with a collection of AT&T-branded apps, including a QR code scanner; a navigation app powered by TeleNav; AT&T FamilyMap, which keeps tabs on your family members' GPS locations; Ready2Go, which helps you wirelessly set up your phone from your browser; and Featured Apps, which has a list of apps curated by AT&T. The carrier also includes MOG for streaming music. The majority of these apps are actually links to download the app itself from the Android Market.
The Skyrocket features a 1.5-GHz dual-core Qualcomm APQ8060 processor, which is different than the 1.2-GHz Samsung Exynos C210 CPU found on the HSPA+ version of this phone from AT&T. With that chip, this handset scored 3,035 on the Benchmark CPU test, below the AT&T Galaxy S II (3,340), but well above the HTC Vivid's score of 2,129 and the LG Nitro HD's score of 1,107.
On the graphics benchmark An3DBench, the Skyrocket scored a strong 7,428, just above the Nitro's score of 7,353 and well above the Vivid's score of 6,001. However, it was almost 300 points below its Exynos-powered sibling on AT&T (7,754).
In practice, the Skyrocket was fast and responsive. We quickly zoomed in and out of locations in satellite view on Google Maps, and switching between apps was quick and painless. Playing the included demo version of Need For Speed Shift, we could see detailed trees as our BMW M3 whizzed by on the track.
Web Browsing & 4G LTE
When we tested in New York using the Speedtest.net app, the Skyrocket averaged a download speed of 28 Mbps down and 9.5 Mbps up. That's pretty fantastic.
In Chicago, where AT&T's LTE network is available, but not as swift as other cities offering AT&T's LTE service, the Skyrocket averaged a download speed of 5.2 Mbps on Speedtest.net. The upload average on the same test was 1.8 Mbps. By comparison, the HTC Vivid averaged 5 Mbps down and 1.3 Mbps up in the same location.
Web-browsing on the Skyrocket was quick. The phone loaded the mobile version of The New York Times in 3.9 seconds, ESPN's mobile page in 5.8 seconds, CNN mobile in 4.5 seconds, and the full version of Laptopmag.com in 13 seconds.
This handset's front-facing 2-MP camera produced better-than-expected images. A Google Talk video chat looked smooth with very little pixelation.
The Skyrocket is also capable of 1080p video, which looked crisp and clear. Though the handset held focus while moving the phone around, it was unable to autofocus on a car coming toward us.
Call Quality and Battery Life
Calls on the Skyrocket were clear on our end, and our caller said he could hear us clearly, too. The speakerphone was reasonably loud.
The Skyrocket is rated for 7 hours of use and 10.4 days of standby. Over 4G LTE on the LAPTOP Battery Test, the Skyrocket lasted 5 hours and 43 minutes, 5 minutes less than the AT&T Galaxy S II, but almost 2 hours less than the T-Mobile Galaxy S II. Still, the Skyrocket easily outlasted AT&T's other LTE phones; the Nitro HD's time of 3:53 and the HTC Vivid's time of 4:21 were well behind.
While using the Skyrocket for a few days to make a few phone calls, check our email, surf the web, take a few pictures, and watch YouTube videos, we didn't start worrying about finding a charger until late in the day.
As with the Nitro and Vivid, AT&T offers three data plans for the Skyrocket: DataPlus 200MB ($15 per month, $15 for each additional 200MB), DataPro 2GB ($25/month, $10 for each additional 1GB), and DataPro 4GB ($45/month, $10 for each additional 1GB). Only the 4GB plan includes tethering.
VerdictNitro HD, but we prefer the Skyrocket for its longer endurance and less clunky design. Of the first three LTE phones on AT&T's network, the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket has launched itself ahead of the pack.
|Form Factor||Candybar Touchscreen|
|Operating System||Android 2.3.5|
|Networks||GSM/GPRS/EDGE850/900/1800/1900 MHz 3G - UMTS/HSPA+850/1900/2100 MHz|
|CPU||1.5 GHz Qualcomm APQ8060 dual-core|
|Memory Expansion Type||microSD Card|
|Display (main)||4.5-inches (480 x 800 pixels)|
|Bluetooth Type||Bluetooth 3.0|
|Front Camera Resolution||2MP|
|Camera Resolution||8 MP|
|Audio formats supported||AAC|
|Audio formats supported||WMA|
|Audio formats supported||WAV|
|Audio formats supported||MP3|
|Audio formats supported||MIDI|
|Audio formats supported||AMR|
|Talk / Standby Time||7 hours/ 10.4 days|
|Size||5.1 x 2.7 x 0.4 inches|
|SAR Rating (Head)|
|SAR Rating (Body)|