The Omnia Pro looks chunky and dated, and though the bright AMOLED display looks great, the slider mechanism of the QWERTY keyboard feels creaky and low rent.
Samsung's TouchWiz interface is an unintuitive skin to the barely-improved Windows Mobile 6.5 OS, and the Pro's touch-screen is too slow for a pleasant navigation experience
WinMo 6.5 makes for some good business features such as easy sync to Microsoft Outlook, and its new icon-based look is an improvement. The five-megapixel camera is surprising capable as well.
The preloaded Opera Mini browser makes for a fast web experience, and though you can't get push email on webmail, you can on Microsoft Exchange accounts. However, the lag-ridden touch-screen and unintuitive user interface makes the phone no fun to use.
The Omnia Pro lasted a full day with GPS, Wi-Fi and 3G use.
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,6/7/2010 6:44:01 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Tactile keyboard, speedy web browser, decent camera particularly on a business device, ability to customise with Windows apps
Unresponsive touch-screen, no push support for webmail, clumsy Touch-Wiz interface, generally slow and glitch-ridden UI
When Samsung's original Omnia touch-phone came out in 2008, it was roundly applauded for its business features and affordability. But almost two years on, the Omnia Pro running the barely-improved Windows Mobile 6.5 system just feels dated, especially with Samsung's custom - and ancient - TouchWiz interface plonked on top.
Please don't touch
One fault with the original Omnia was its glitchy touch-screen - somewhat forgivable in '08 days before capacitive screens became the norm - and unfortunately, nothing has changed. The Pro's 3.5-inch resistive touch-screen is unresponsive and inaccurate, while even pressing the hard unlock button takes a few seconds to register. The interface comprises three homescreens customisable with widgets and shortcuts, but swiping between them often required two or three attempts, and in general, we found a lag of around a second when navigating the user interface. Though we had greater accuracy when using the bundled stylus (in this day and age?) the screen was still quite slow.
TouchWiz, Samsung's own customisable widget interface, isn't very intuitive. Adding widgets to the homescreen involves long presses and drags that feel clumsy compared to the slick UI on other smartphones. It's also possible to overlap or even completely cover widgets with each other, making the homescreen look pretty messy, and the actual widgets don't come close to the sort of diversity available elsewhere. For example, the social networking one are actually just links to websites - and this doesn't even include Facebook. Luckily, you can download the appropriate apps from Windows Marketplace, which only further highlights the superfluity of TouchWiz.
A tale of two interfaces
Without getting into geek parlance, TouchWiz is like an extra skin covering the woolly mammoth that is WinMo. And it really doesn't fit. In the top left you have the Windows Start icon, which brings up an all-programs menu. Hitting the hard 'Menu' button brings up an all-programs menu too, but in Samsung's style. Why? We don't know. But we guess it's useful that you can press the button to go back and forth between the program you last used, and the main menu. On-screen, there's also a touch-area for you to switch between open apps.
We like the new WinMo unlock screen which also displays any missed emails, texts or calls, and lets you unlock/swipe directly to them. Unfortunately, most other improvements are as cosmetic as the TouchWiz interface, and not much is made of the business features Windows supposedly excels at.
There's also a nice usability touch in the phone dialer, where a message option lets you choose to text a dialled number instead - useful when you've called someone who didn't pick up as you can easily send a message without opening up the message app.
Web, write and photograph
Since the Pro runs on a business-oriented OS, and packs a full QWERTY keyboard, you'd expect some serious email cred. Well, sort of. There's an incredibly handy 'composer' key that fires up a screen where you can choose to write a message, email, calendar appointment, note or search term, and also a dedicated call log button. But though the keyboard is tactile with smooth rubber keys, there are some silly glitches - for example, symbols are input via tapping the alt key, then a character key, but with the question mark - that oft-used symbol - you have to actually hold down the alt key. There's also no spellcheck whatsoever, and only the most rudimentary of auto-complete systems which will correct for 'I'm' but no other contraction, and doesn't even capitalize an 'I'.
The email interface itself is standard WinMo - not particularly pretty, but senders, subjects and dates are clearly presented, and the phone will automatically only download a message preview to save on those pesky data charges. But considering its positioning as a business device, it's quite shocking there's no push email feature on widely used webmail such as Gmail.
Web-wise, the Omnia Pro is preloaded with Opera Mini, probably the best mobile browser out there, and webpages load with great speed - under four seconds for mobile sites, and around ten for full-fat pages. The browser will autodirect to and auto-fit mobile pages, with a double-tap to zoom. There's also a five-megapixel camera with autofocus and flash, which is decent to supplement a business device. Pictures taken in daylight had good clarity though the lens was extra-sensitive to green - so our fluorescent-lit office for example came out looking rather seasick. Colours were truer outdoors, and we were impressed with the colours captured in lowlight mode, though these images - taken without a flash - were quite soft and grainy. Lowlight with flash tended to turn out clear pictures that were just a little overexposed. Our only issue was that the snapper button is on the keyboard part of the phone, which often slid away as we pressed it.
Samsung's TouchWiz skin does little to enhance or take advantage of WinMo's features, and the glitch-ridden touch-screen and generally unfriendly UI make this phone no fun to use. With Android taking off in a big way, BlackBerry going entry level, and both systems starting to hit the exact mid-range market Samsung's dominated for years, the Omnia Pro just can't stand up to its competition.