The three phones in this article:
- XCover (GT-S5690). Smallest but thickest. Can be used under water, even. Gingerbread 2.3.3, upgradable to 2.3.6.
- S II (GT-I9100) A tiny bit bigger but half the depth. Gingerbread, upgradeable to Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0.2.
- Note II (GT-N7105 aka t0lte/t0ltexx). Massive. Jelly Bean 4.1.2, upgradeable to 4.3 at some time in the future. Perhaps even Android 5, they say.
GT-S5690 XCoverThis is the XCover 1 and not 2. I have used this phone for 2 years or so, and yes, this phone is solid as a rock. I haven't been able to even scratch it, and it's still good as new.
The XCover is a so called 'rough', or 'active' phone, seriously modified but crippled to work in most environments. Mine has updated from 2.3.3 to 2.3.6 and has a total of 316MB RAM available, but the system takes some of that. A single-core 1.2 Ghz undeclocked to 800 MHz processor and a low density screen. It has a system storage area of 165 MB, which is what you get to play with.
It's not a bad phone, but the slowness and memory shortage becomes obvious after a few months use. Well, actually it *is* a bad phone, because sometimes it can take 5-30 seconds for it to actually pull up the dialler and make the actual call. Someone needs to make the dialler a prioritized app in case of emergency. Seriously, on a bad day I can spend 30 seconds getting an outgoing call. It's a good entry level phone, and was my first Android.
The 'rough' aspect was what sold me, as I was initially opposed to miniature-sized and crippled computers that broke their screens if you lost them, and also caused you acute permanent squinting eyes-syndrome after staring at those small displays that the first smoarthphones came with.
Coming from a Samsung Solid Extreme B2100 (an ancient feature-phone), this was what I would start with.
Much has changed. Samsung has, at the time of writing, just been ranked the most profitable business in the world, completely obliterating Microsoft and Apple projects. And their phones are solid, Gorilla-Glassed multi-core SoCs that just reeks of high-tech. And most importantly, Samsung devices are open in nature and as such, has the hearts and minds of the geek hordes out there, inevitably making Android rise faster than you can throw a chair out the window.
This phone is easily rooted but has no active development on any custom ROM's. Someone did actually make a custom kernel to unlock 1.2 GHz on the GT-S5690M variant. This phone is obsolete now and replaced with the XCover 2, which will not sell more than the XCover 1, because they improved nothing, except adding a second core. The problem with this phone is the _memory_, Samsung! I have read that when you root it, you can set up a symlink so you can move apps off the main memory to the SD card as well. (In addition to the already moveable apps).
After I got the 7105, I wiped & factory restored it, rooted it and now it\s a backup phone in my always-on backpack. This phone will perhaps be used for a wifi security cam, or integrated with my Arduino boards in some way. It does contain 3G networking and an AM/FM radio, something that 4G devices don't.
Facts: (more over at gsmarena)
- Gingerbread 2.3.3, TouchWiz UI
- Dimensions: 4.80 x 2.60 x 0.47 inches (122 x 66 x 12 mm), 136 grams. Corning Gorilla Glass.
- 3.65 inch TN LCD, 320x480, 160dpi display. VGA video recording.
- 3.5 mm stereo jack, USB 2.0 micro-USB connector, both covered up.
- GPS, Flashlight, loudspeaker, FM radio (RDS), with headset as antenna
- 316 MB RAM, 158 MB usable. Supports microSD, microSDHC up to 32 GB. Uses mini-SIM.
- Marvell MG2 CPU @ 800Mhz, GC800 GPU,, PXA968 chipset.
- 3.15 MP single camera. 2048×1536 pixels. Video: 640x480 (VGA) (30 fps)
- Bluetooth, A2DP, EDR, WiFi (802.11 b/g/n), Wi-Fi hotspot
- Networks: 2G + 3G: GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 and HSDPA 900 / 2100
- GPRS, Class 12 (4+1/3+2/2+3/1+4 slots), 32 - 48 kbps, EDGE
- Accelerometer, proximity, compass, magnetic sensor
- IP67 rated, Water (Water), Dust, Shock proof
- Battery: 500 mAh Li-ion
- Wall charger. (Not USB-adapter)
- microUSB cable
- 2 GB microSD card with SD adapter
- I have used this phone in -35 C winter, +45 C summer, in rain and wind.
- I have dropped this phone, thrown it in the wall and there's hardly a scratch in the paint.
- Decent sounding speakers. (Doesn't crackle)
- Way too little memory
- Small screen
GT-I9100 S IIEverybody knows the S2, a lethally good phone that are only taken off the market because it's been replaced by S3 and now S4. (which are both ridiculously overpowered and completely overkill for a phone!). This is a lighter phone and is more rectangular then the S3. I have installed CyanogenMod 9 on this one, and it's just fucking awesome. As the S indicates , it's a flagship model and it's essentially Samsung's Destroyer Of iPhones and need no further introduction, but I just have to mention this phone because after I installed CM9, the battery life on this is just ridiculous. Given, I have actually manually disabled the GSM module, this is just insane. Actually, I think S II with CM9 becomes a free energy unit. It's doubleplus good! It has a dual core ARMv7 and 1GB app mem as well as 8 GB internal memory. Of all my phones, this is the one that brings up the camera the fastest.
Fun Surveillance Fact: When it comes to wether the GSM module is active when the phone is off or not, this is extremely obvious to me now: The 5690 died after a few days, and the S II was still on 97% power after it was in it's 2nd week. The proof is indeed in the pudding and so is the NSA. Myth confirmed. As you all know; when you are on your 3rd straight night and your Google Fu is strong; it is not easy to do dig those links up later, but somewhere on the web is the dialler code for disabling the GSM module. In some tyrant countries, both in the east and the west, this might be a crime, just so you might know. But then againt, there was a time after and before Snowden, Manning & Assange.
- Gingerbread 2.3.4, TouchWiz UI, Upgradable to 4.0.4 and then 4.1
- Dimensions: 66.1x8.5,116
- Screen: 4.3 inches, 480 x 800
- 3.5 mm stereo jack, USB 2.0 micro-USB connector
- 1024 MB RAM, 8 GB internal storage. Up to 32GB SDHC card.
- CPU: Exynos, dual-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A9 (Orion), Mali-400MP GPU.
- Camera: 8MP (3264x2448) and full 1080p video recording. Secondary camera @ 1.2MP.
- Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, dual-band, DLNA, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi hotspot, BT v3.0+HS, A-GPS support
- GPRS: Class 12 (4+1/3+2/2+3/1+4 slots), 32 - 48 kbps, EDGE 2.0. HSDPA, 21 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.76 Mbps
- No FM radio
- Battery: 1650 mAh Li-ion
GT-N7105 Note II
This is essentially an S III blown up to half tablet size. This is a so-called 'phablet'. And it's also the first smartphone I've had that I can type on without going insane from hitting 2-4 buttons at the same time. The screen is a fabulous 5.5 inches and it's heavy! Think of this rather as a PDA that can make phone calls, rather than a smartphone. At 1280x720 (and full 1080p over USB) this actually usable as an emergency computer when travelling or just on the toilet. From this I can pretty comfortably use a Terminal Emulator or SSH into my shells or scribble down some ideas. I've installed some compilers, but I haven't gotten to actually develop _on_ the phone yet. The 7105 plugged right into the Eclipse IDE as the 5690 and the 9100 did. I have started development on some (yet not existing!) apps and the 7105 is excellent to develop on, because it has both multi- and single window display mode!
The memory arrangement is a bit different than usual; both the internal memory and application memory are merged. And then it has only 'device storage'. This means that you cannot move apps to SD card as usual. Such it has a comfortable 8 GB app memory in addition to the 8 GB microSD card. However, I suspect this can be fixed if you root it and set up a symlink, like has been done for the S5690.
It comes with stock 4.1.2, and has some nice Note-specific apps. It does of course come with a stylus pen. This will enable extra UI features, as you can use the phone from an inch's distance. The stylus has a (non-obvious) button that acts as if you actually pressed against the screen. It has a nice AMOLED display and works reasonably well outside in the sun. It has an 8 MP main camera and a 1.3 MP front side camera. Be aware that it needs a mirco-SIM card. You 'regular' SIM card will not fit.
Yeah, about the front side camera. It sees you. It stalks you. It knows. It will rotate the screen to match your face. It will adjust the intensity level of the screen depending on ambient light, if you wish. It will tell you the time if you try to reach for it. I shit you not. You can also talk to this phone, it will even start beeping if you walk away from the stylus pen. Creepy stuff. But at least I have it enclosed in a book-cover. This is the precursor to the Trapperkeeper 9000!
The 7105 has a CM for it, but it's not stable, and only provides experimental and nightly builds. At this moment, several of the last 14 builds would not boot.
Specs: (more info here)
Specs: (more info here)
- JellyBean 4.1.2. Will be upgradable to 4.3.
- Dimensions: 151.1 x 80.5 x 9.4 mm
- 720 x 1280 pixels, 5.5 inches
- 3.5 mm stereo jack, USB 2.0 micro-USB connector
- 2048 MB RAM, 8 GB internal storage. Up to 32 GB SDHC card.
- CPU: Exynos, quad-core 1.6 GHz Cortex-A9 (Orion), Mali-400MP GPU.
- Camera: 8MP (3264x2448) and full 1080p video recording. Secondary camera @ 2.0MP.
- Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, dual-band, DLNA, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi hotspot, A-GPS support and GLONASS
- BT v4.0 with A2DP, LE, EDR
- GPRS: , EDGE 2.0. HSDPA, 21 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.76 Mbps; LTE, Cat3, 50 Mbps UL, 100 Mbps DL
- No FM radio. Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer
- Battery: 1650 mAh Li-ion
Rumors has it that the S3 and the Note 2 will skip 4.2.2 and jump straight to 4.3. That is a shame, because there are several bugs in the 4.1.2 interface, most annoying is the fact that apps deleted from folders on the home screens won't always clean up the slot it had in the folder and the space remains empty and no amount of tinkering will make it right again. There are some others I've noticed too, like the background picture mysteriously disappears sometimes, only to come back after going in to the app list and back. The good news is that our devices has been chosen as the only two to actually receive 4.3. Some say even 5.0. For all your questions about rooting, and modding and the tools of the trade, refer to http://forum.xda-developers.com/ f.
A friendly warning: Do not use so-called M2 memory with Samsung phones. It's for Ericsson phones. They will die after a certain time. My wife and I got our 8 GB cards on the same day and they stopped working on the same day after a year or so! They were not rescuable. So, if you card has the letters M2 anywhere on the card itself, it is an M2 card!
Update, July 25th 18:52
Here's some more useful links that you might want to visit after reading this.
- http://uploading.com/files/8m63916d/Universal_GB_ROOT_v5_patched_for_S5690.zip/ - ZIP file to put on your mircoSD card:
- http://dfiles.eu/files/8i17empsz - Mirror
- http://forum.xda-developers.com/showpost.php?p=22479597&postcount=15 - The actual post on the XDA thread where tlc76 posts these
- Confirmed to work on my GT-S5690 from Telenor (Norway)
GT-I9100 files for changing kernel, checking FLASH, rooting and installing CM9:
- http://professorfalkenherald.blogspot.no/2012/10/rooting-and-modding-samsung-galaxy-s2.html - I wrote a blog post last year about how I rooted and installed CyanogenMod 9 on my S II.
- Confirmed to work on my GT-I9100. Upgrade to 4.02 and install Siyah kernel first, then run emmc-echecked.
- http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=2032849 - I haven\t personally rooted my 7105 yet, so no guarantees here. I might wait until 4.3, or until CyanogenMod 10.1 becomes stable for this device.
- http://autoroot.chainfire.eu/ - Chainfire AutoRoot downloads
Generally, our friendly superhero chainfire has developed root techniques for several Android models. Check this site out.