I'm utterly impressed by the camera quality. I knew it would be good, but it's so much better than my old Carl Zeiss lens from Nokia. I'm gonna have a lot of fun with this. And the best, viewing the picture now is the easiest in the world and really quick. I love this smartphone, truly do.

Smartphone, Android, Touchscreen, Internet - for someone who has never owned any of these on a phone, this is a quite scary and exciting adventure.

First I had to get internet, I can't use my old simcard with it. Then I charged the phone. When I bought the small package, elegant black box with silver sweeping letters, I was surprised and amazed. It's so small for such a huge device - huge as in lots of features.

I was even more surprised when I opened it. The phone was almost as big as the box but it was so thin and light. First I was afraid to hold it. Even though I had seen it in the shop, owning it is a different experience.
The clear charging light battery already amazed me, it was so bright. When it was finally full (barely took a few hours, wow) and I had my new Internet Sim-card from Vodafone, I opened the back. Quite easy and against other comments the back is very robust. Putting in the Sim-card was easy, too, didn't even have to take out the battery. Closing worked great. The hooks clicked with a nice firm grip and in the end the back is very smooth.

Now turning it on. OMG. Nice first opening screen, wonderful graphics. Then there is my screen. It looks so awesome. I had seen HTCs and Iphones but this was just amazing. And such a big screen. I did the jeans pocket test and works perfectly.

Then I tried to make a call. Working with the keys needs some work, yes, but it was better and easier than I thought. (better than on my Ipod touch). But then I pressed the wrong button and the call menu was gone.

But I was still on the line of the service center. I freaked a bit, tried to get back to where I can end the call. I usually consider myself a computer, technology etc geek, a small one, but the smartphone first impression literally took my breath away. I finally realized how to get back to the call menu by swiping down the top where there was a red phone sign.

This really is a device for the future. I'm looking forward to exploring it in detail.

In my last post I compared prices online. There are two online shops that offer the Galaxy SII for 399€; Amazon and a few others are 20 € more expensive but don't have shipping costs.

Amazon is the only online retailer that I really trust. Only once did I buy a laptop with T-online. Buying my flatscreen with Amazon was a huge decision but when prices are hundreds of Euro cheaper, you just have to give in. Usually I prefer to go to shops and wait for offers. A huge problem for me is that I'm only in Berlin for a short time, so I can't wait too long for shipping.

When looking back on Amazon, the price is at 465€ and only other partner firms sell it for 419€ there. This rules out Amazon for me - and due to lack of trust online retailers in general.

My subjective and biased view on shops: I can pick up the product right away, no waiting. I get service when buying but most importantly when something is wrong - bringing the device back and receiving a new one takes only minutes. In case there is a hardware problem later in my 2-year warrenty time, they take care of all the hassle with sending, repairing etc.

For me this is worth paying a few Euro more, however, not extensively more. When being so close to the buying experience. I really need to be careful not to rush into the shop and just buy anything only to own it.

Luckily, I found the cheapest offer today at my Media Markt in Berlin. 399€! I really didn't expect that. Cheaper than online retailers! Perfect. So I stood there in the market, thought about it, well, and after this whole process, I'm sure, I want it, I got it. I own a Samsung Galaxy SII now. Amazing.

The service was great, they offered me some insurance which I declined and they already had all my details saved because I shopped there before. The seller was friendly and I enjoyed having a quick chat while getting the phone. And the best: In the shop I was also able to buy some extras. A silicon case for example. I think I will also look into screen covers online.

Today is full of suprises: The box in which the Galaxy S2 came was tiny. My old phones always had boxes about three times the size. Anyway, it's all too exciting. I will unpack it now and see what it's like.

All of my phones so far I have bought in conjunction with a contract. As my phones tend to be top-range and quite new, I often have to pay 100-200 € on top of that. Way back this was the way to go. Now times have changed. My own contract is too cheap and you don't get nice deals when you just renew it.

I would have considered getting a new contract but unfortunately I'm travelling in different countries too much, a few months in England, a few months in Germany. Very inconvenient.

I still went to Vodafone (in Germany that's the best connection and I like their service after 10 years of experience in my family). My Dad has a contract without a phone and pays 80 € per month. He said he is fine to renew his contract but Vodafone says they won't give him the Samsung Galaxy SII I chose, because he doesn't want an internet flat. He wouldn't use it and for me it would be worthless. That's really frustrating.
Then I tried with my mothers contract but it's the same deal. We played through all the possibilities but it's no good.

I even started looking at new contracts for many networks. Vodafone has nice student offers but either I have to pay about 250-300€ extra still or my contract will be about 30€ a month. I know I can get cheaper contracts without a phone, with internet and texts for only 10 € or tops 15€, so as a student who isn't even in the country most times anything more is unmanagable.

Christmas offers from T-Mobile and Vodafone offer the phone much cheaper now, for 65 € for example, but only with their overpriced tariffs. 3 years ago I could call Vodafone and landline for free for only 20€. Now, 30€ for a contract is probably reasonable including internet if it would include the phone completely. Groupon.de has such an offer for the SII. Only 19.95€ for the phone. But that is only Telecom and I really don't want to switch. Also I have to pay at least another 10 pounds in England for the network services that I will want to have there too.

A friend told me nowawdays you just go to Amazon or MediaMarkt to buy the phone seperately. So I guess I will have to do that now and get a cheap contract. I calculated it all together and buying the SII for about 400 is still cheaper with a 10€ contract than paying 30€ for 24 months (which I can't even use completely yet).

Endline: a smartphone makes you very mobile but the network industry doesn't provide good international, flexible offers yet.

Next week is Christmas and I want to give myself a treat. Christmas wouldn't be as exciting without knowing you get something as awesome as a smartphone. I'm not even sure that I can wait that long. I'm very impatient now that I know I want the Samsung Galaxy SII.

First thing I always do: check amazon!

It's 414 Euro for Germany and £389.00 in Britain as I'm staying in England right now. Why not compare across borders if possible.

Luckily it's cheaper in Germany. Why lucky?
I feel much safer buying something in Germany due to the fact that we have a minimum of 2 years warrenty on everything by law. In England it's often only 1 year - not good. I know Samsung and other large brands offer a 2-year service themselves but I would hate to go through the hassle.

Another reason to not buy it in England: last year, I purchased an Iphone for a friend at the Apple shop in town. It was much cheaper - for some reason intial prices are much lower in England, so looking is worth it. But in the end my friend only kept it for a few months as he wasn't able to run updates or use the IOS with vodafone. You don't have these problems with Android - I would hope. Still, it's a lesson I've learned.

Also, if I would have to get it repaired and I'm not in England at the moment, what do I do then? There are just too many open questions. However, if it had been majorly cheaper, I would have considered buying it abroad.

(translation: choose the S2 if it needs be inexpensive, the sensation for design and the nexus if you like tech stuff)

People seem very happy with the Sense of the HTCs - I played with it from friends and was very impressed, too. Reviews also seemed to prefer this skin above all others. On the other hand, I don't know HTC that well whereas I had good experiences with Samsung phones.

I know they improved the battery for the XE but I heard many complaints about the predecessor concerning this. Three of my friends who have an HTC are content but they are all women and don't know much about the other choices. Not trying to make this a sexuality-based decision but the design of the HTC seems to be very female oriented. The Galaxys just seem a bit more in my direction.

From a conversation on facebook, I realised and was confirmed by Twitter entries that the Nexus is similar to the Iphone 4S full of glitches that are sure to be resolved fairly quickly. I also feel more comfortable with a sophisticated, proven version. Then the 4.65 screen of the Nexus - I think even that's too big for me; I do work my phones with one hand quite often. Everything feels a bit safer with SII - the physical button for example as I've never had a touch screen phone before. It's hard to trust in that right away.

The worst of the Nexus is still the camera. My cousin has the SII and was stunned by its performance camera-wise. It intrigued me. He also said the overal performance compared to earlier smartphones he's had is purely amazing. The Nexus is leading on tables now but I haven't heard similar statements about it from reviewers. The SII is simply outstanding which is maybe not the best way to go for a smartphone; however, it has ALL the features I want, so it seems like a perfect choice for me.


Samsung Galaxy SII is the cheapest one and as a student I have to look at that too. The HTC Sensation XE is available for 475 Euro and the Samsung Galaxy Nexus for about 529 Euro. The SII I can get for 399 Euro and maybe even cheaper when looking more into it.
A huge thing for me as well: you can get the SII in white and as most people will either already have the black SII or buy the Nexus for Christmas, I might have the advantage of standing out a bit with that one. Decision made, I think. And it feels good. Now I'm excited and want to buy it.

This is all great, good promotion from Samsung.

So there are three phones left in my bowl.

1. Samsung Galaxy SII
2. Samsung Galaxy Nexus
3. HTC Sensation XE

I undertook some closer research, read articles on Chip.de, Cnet, and connect Magazine/Website and followed some general discussions with videos, articles and Twitter.

  • The Galaxy SII is already half a year old but it was leading the phone tables for a very long time. This must speak for its quality
  • The Nexus really scores with its features, the biggest screen of those three and the cool curved style. 
  • The XE is actually the most attractive because of its Beats Audio sound profile as music capabilities was one of my top priorities.
I also wanted a good camera, both SII and XE have the 8MP and have done well in tests. The Nexus only has 5MP, I really wish that was better. Next: Battery life is increased for the XE (heard bad things about the predecessor.) SII was leading in this but Nexus seems to do well in this too.

Closer look at the Sensation XE: The resolution is slightly better than the SII but not as good as the Nexus (Amoled wins in any case, though). Other downsides here: it's memory is only 4 GB big and despite the 16GB SD-Card that comes with it, I prefer the included 16 GB in case I need to top up later. Quite likely with those awesome cameras. (http://reviews.cnet.co.uk/mobile-phones/htc-sensation-xe-with-beats-audio-review-50005202/)
Everyone thinks the Nexus is a good deal. Best resolution of them all, the notification LED is nice. Slight problem for me is that they marked down the quality of the appearance. The Galaxy SII did a much better job there and it's also lighter than the new one. Surprisingly the Amoled technology is not "as" good as the SII's - either you get clear Amoled or dotted HD - strange. Also, the SII's CPU is the same; I would have expected more here. More tiny downsides: no USB function, no SD-slot. (http://www.connect.de/ratgeber/kampf-um-die-smartphone-krone-1218095,287.html)

It's a shame the Nexus doesn't completely convince me. The XE seems like a really good deal but the Galaxy SII so far is exactly in the middle of both phones. Tests in Connect show top web capabilities, memory is huge, sound is amazing and battery life top range. The only downside: it's older, CPU not as strong as the XE's and it doesn't have an HD screen.
I need to think about this some more, also drawing on other people's comments.

Look what I found:

To decide which 3 phones I wan't to have a closer look at, I compared the specifics of all phones, read some overal reviews on Connect.de and Chip.de and also ruled out what works least for me due to a variety of reasons.

1. that has to go: Nokia Lumia 800
- I'm not so convinced by the design. It looks like a lot of surface doesn't belong to the screen and despite the round edges I get the feeling that it is squared and too accurate. But that's a completely personal view. Then it only has a single core, even though tests say it's sufficient. No card slot is another minus. Missing front camera, although I quite fancy the Carl Zeiss in the back which I liked in my Nokia N96. However, my experiences with Nokia cameras are that their quality gets worse over the years and eventually stops working altogether. Lastly, the app numbers are not convincing yet and Connect say the music is bound to the use of a software. Too much that doesn't go along my consideration specifics.

2.  one that's out - HTC Evo 3D
- the Connect Magazine tested it and even though it seems like a good deal, the ranking shows that it's only second best. The 3D features are too new for my liking and the tests have shown that it's still in its baby shoes. The Evo is better than the old Sensation in some features, but I think I can get a better deal with models that get top rated.

3. now it gets more difficult: Samsung Galaxy Note
- as appealing as this huge screen is, I'm not looking for an Ipad. Otherwise this would have been my number one because it has everything I want, from design to uniqueness and full technological features. Following Samsung's world tour with the Note was also exciting and I really wish the screen wasn't so big. I already struggle with the decisions in 4.3-4.65 screen area when I think about going out or trying to use it in lectures unnoticed.

4. the last one might come as a surprise: Iphone 4S
- the news are full with complaints about system errors. It seems that they rushed the new IOS a bit too much and use this now as a testdrive until they release the Iphone 5 next year. The manufacturing seems to be top, but for me the smaller screen is a big issue. It looks tiny when you played with an HTC before. Buying an apple product also means committing to apple on a broader range. I thought about doing this because the idea in general appeals to me, however, it is a long-term investment that I cannot afford at the moment. It's a shame because Apple in general brings out top, high-tech and innvoative products. Everyone seems to love the metal and glas frame of the iphone. Honestly, I prefer lighter and scratch-free plastic if it doesn't look cheap.
Other downsides: no exchangeable battery, not much new that appeals to me in the new 4S, I'm not a fan of itunes, it works if I need to use it but I prefer simple drag & drop features.
OS5 really seems to be a hit when it's working. I still feel a bit restricted with apple software, but then I have only tried for a short time with friend's phones. All in all, the price and all these things make me say no to Apple - at least for now.

This leaves me with my three top choices: Samsung Galaxy S2, Samsung Galaxy Nexus, and HTC Sensation XE . I will explain next time why they specifically appeal to me.

This is a list of phones that I kept a close eye on. Next time I will rule out most of them unfortunately but that doesn't mean they are not great phones that I would like to have - maybe one each day would be nice. No, I don't consider buying them for mostly personal preference reasons. I still want to grant them the presence they deserve - because they all got me excited at some point.

Samsung Galaxy SII - Android 2.3 -  4.3 Amoled display - 480x800 normal resolution - 1.2 Gh dualcore - long lasting leader in tests - white version available - 415 Euro

Samsung Nexus - Android 4.0 - 4.65 Amoled display - 1280 x 720 highest resolution - 1.2 dualcore processor 529 Euro

IPhone 4S - IOS 5 - 3.5 TFT display - great resolution - secret dual core - 629 Euro

Samsung Galaxy Note - Android 2.3 - 5.3 display 1.280 x 800 great resolution - 508 Euro

HTC EVO 3D - Android 2.3 - 4.3 display - 3D qualities - 419 Euro

HTC Sensation XE - Android 2.3 - 4.3 display - 1.5 Gh dualcore 475 Euro

Nokia Lumia 800 - Windows Phone 7.5 Mango - 3.7 display - normal resolution - 1.4 single-core OLED Clear Black technology - 499 Euro

Blackberry: I won't even include this in my list because the overal design with the non-touch keyboard is not suitable for my bigger hands. Also, the display sizes are too small for my video, camera and e-reader usages.

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