Samsung Omnia 7 in-depth review -

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Look and feel

Neat and snazzy styling and a metal back make this a highly attractive handset, and that screen is remarkable.

Ease of use

Apart from a weirdly placed power button, most elements of the Omnia 7 are impressive and work well.

Features

Most of the features are standard on Windows Phone 7. Samsung has included a competent camera and one or two special apps.

Performance

The 1GHz processor common to all WP7 handsets makes sure it's speedy and responsive.

Battery life

Good life, despite that super-vivid display, will last you into a second day's usage.

 Samsung Omnia 7 Review -
4

Review by Sunetra Chakravati,6/7/2010 6:48:10 PM

8

out of 10

Performance

10

out of 5

Look and feel

8

out of 5

Ease of use

8

out of 5

Features

8

out of 5

Battery life

Pros:

Amazing screen, solid and stylish design.

Cons:

Few special apps.

So you think you might like this new Windows Phone 7 operating system, but you don't know which phone to pick? Well, the good news is that Microsoft has set such a rigorous set of conditions every handset must meet that there's no bad WP7 phone. It's win-win.

Design

If you want the highest resolution camera then the HTC Mozart stands out. If you want a massive screen, try the HD7. But for sheer stylishness, it's hard to beat Samsung's Omnia 7. It feels reassuringly solid with its solid metal back that is pleasant to the touch. The Back and Search icons at the base of the screen are touch-sensitive areas, but the Windows Start button is a pressable circle - in the same place and shape as the home button on the iPhone. And because it's flush it's hard for it to be pressed accidentally. The result of this is that - unique among the current WP7 handsets - you can wake the screen from standby with the Start button. On the other phones you have to reach to the top edge to press the power buttons. This is a small detail but if you're moving to Windows from an iPhone, you'll be used to pressing the home button to get things going.

That power button, by the way, isn't on the top edge - you'll find the micro USB connector there, hidden under a sliding door - but three quarters of the way up the right side. This is a favourite place for Samsung power buttons, though personally it never makes sense to me.

Super AMOLED screen

The screen is big (four-inches) and is one of the real stand-out elements of the phone. Samsung has a real gift with AMOLED screens and when you add the natural vividness of Windows Phone 7 and - in the case of the review handset - the super bright Orange network colouring, the overall effect is eye-popping. Since the look and styling of Windows Phone 7 is a big part of its appeal, and a major contrast with earlier versions of the user interface, a bright screen like this really shows it all off well - arguably this phone makes the system look better than any other handset.

Incidentally, it's worth noting that Microsoft's conditions are not minimum specifications - manufacturers are not allowed to exceed many specs, either, so there's the exact same number of pixels on this 3.8-inch screen as on the larger HTC HD7.


Windows Phone 7 had two theme settings, light and dark. Dark is the more dramatic, especially on AMOLED screens that manage deeper blacks and contrasts than regular LCD. Also, AMOLED uses less energy on black screens. Which brings us to battery life. Big screens can deplete a battery fast, but the Omnia 7 will happily take you into a second day's use, which is nice.

Camera and more

The camera specification is more variable, and while the Omnia lacks the HTC Mozart's eight-megapixel sensor, the five megapixels in use here are perfectly acceptable and deliver strong results, as does the HD video recording.


Samsung hasn't stamped its identity hard on the phone in the way HTC has with its two-tile hub on the home screen. There are some Samsung special apps but only a couple and neither is outstanding (Photo Sharing and Now, a weather and news app). Still, with the Windows Marketplace growing daily, this may not matter much.

The verdict

Build quality and amazing display are the real stand-out features on this phone. Since Windows Phone 7 is a remarkable and largely very successful platform, Samsung has married its excellent hardware with great software to deliver an attractive and powerful user experience from a handsome metal shell.

David Phelan