The Samsung Galaxy S II launched overseas in April to pretty much universal acclaim. (Engadget gave the phone a 9/10 rating and opined, “It's the best Android smartphone yet, but more importantly, it might well be the best smartphone, period.”) It’s been slow making its way stateside, but at a media event in Manhattan on Tuesday, Samsung finally announced a U.S. launch date: September 16.
Well, sort of. See, Sprint gets it on that date; its version of the handset will be branded as the Epic 4G Touch. The phone will be on AT&T and T-Mobile later this year, too, though the dates haven’t been announced yet. And according some reports, it might not show up on Verizon at all.
First, here’s a little more about what we know for sure: the Galaxy S II is among the most high-end Android smart phones. Sprint’s version, the Epic 4G Touch, sports a giant 4.5-inch Super AMOLED screen, along with an 8-megapixel camera and 1.2GHz processor, running on Android 2.3 “Gingerbread” (the latest Android phone flavor, at least until the fall). T-Mobile’s version will have identical specs, but in a different form factor, and AT&T’s version will be the same under the hood but will shrink the screen slightly, to 4.3 inches.
So why no love from Verizon? Well, nothing’s official yet – Big Red’s absence from today’s event doesn't necessarily indicate conspiracy. After all, its lineup does include several of the original Galaxy S phones. But rumor site Boy Genius Report, which has a pretty good track record in this area, thinks Verizon is passing altogether on the Galaxy S II in favor of exclusively releasing a new Samsung phone, which they’re calling the Droid Prime, “sometime in October.” Boy Genius Report adds that the Droid Prime will be the first smart phone to launch with Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich,” which has already been announced for the fall.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that the Galaxy S II, in its various carrier-specific flavors, will be coming out right around the time Apple is expected to release the next iteration of the iPhone. The Samsung handset certainly has a hardware edge against the iPhone 4, but as we’ve noted before, there are lots of predictions to suggest that the next iPhone will have a bigger screen and more power. As usual, the true indication of a phone’s cultural cachet -- consumer response -- will take a little while longer to determine.
What do you think? Ready to pull the trigger on a Galaxy S II, or are you holding out to see what Apple unveils? Sound off in the comments.