First look at AT&T’s Samsung Galaxy S II

AT&T(s t) is launching the Samsung Galaxy S II on Oct. 2 for $199 with contract, but a review unit showed up on my doorstep earlier today. I’ve just unboxed the device, which came with an optional USB to HDMI adapter, and have some first impressions as well as photos to share. If not for the back cover logo of Galaxy S II, the phone appears very much like the Samsung Infuse 4G I reviewed back in May. The dual-core processor, however, shows the difference once you power-on Samsung’s latest smartphone.

Some quick thoughts, in no particular order:

  • Yes, the 4.3-inch display makes for a large phone, but the device is offset by a light weight and thin profile. It’s not quite as thin as my fourth-generation iPod touch (s aapl), but pretty close as shown in the image gallery.
  • I like the power button on the right side of the GS2 as opposed to a power button on the top.
  • The phone is a speed demon; I haven’t yet used an Android (s goog) phone this fast. You tap the screen, and the phone reacts.
  • The Super AMOLED Plus display is brilliant and vivid. It doesn’t feel like this phone has an 800×480 display; it appears like a higher-resolution screen.
  • NFC, or near field communications, is supported, although there is no application I can find to use this short-range wireless technology. The battery has “near field communication” on the front and back, so I’m assuming the NFC component is integrated into the battery.
  • I have decent AT&T coverage in my area (four out of five bars) and a quick speed test yields reasonable results: 81 millisecond ping time, upload of 1.62 Mbps and download speeds of 4.83 Mbps.
  • A few low-light camera shots came out quite nice, and zooming in shows nice detail.
  • I don’t like the microSD card slot placement; you’ll have to remove the phone battery to insert or remove a memory card.

My gut reaction: I can see many people happy with this phone on AT&T’s network, but I’ll use it for a few days to see if there are any quirks or gotchas to look out for. I also have no idea how long the battery will last on a charge. Of course, the elephant in the room for this phone is the upcoming new iPhone from Apple; (s aapl) next month could prove a superb smartphone showdown between the Galaxy S II and the next iPhone.