Samsung GT-I8700 Omnia 7 review

Product Name: Samsung i8700 Omnia 7
Specifications: Windows Phone 7, Qualcomm 8250 SnapDragon 1Ghz chipset, 4-inch 800×480 Super AMOLED touch screen display, 5 megapixel camera, LED Flash, 8GB memory, HSDPA, HSUPA, AGPS, WIFI, Bluetooth, microUSB

Samsung’s Windows Phone 7 offering arrives with one of the largest screens the company has produced in a handset, along with one of the best visual screen qualities too. Are both of those factors enough to secure domination in the WP7 market? Read on to find out what One Mobile Ring thought, as we review our first Windows Phone 7 handset.

Samsung has already made a good start in establishing a firm grip on the Windows Phone 7 buying market, by not exclusively selling the Omnia 7 on a specific network. HTC is only retailing their 4.3-inch, 16GB flagship HD7 Windows Phone 7 mobile with O2, where Vodafone is solely carrying the LG Optimus 7 and HTC Trophy.

The Samsung Omnia 7 is the only Windows Phone 7 handset to be carried by more than one mobile network – as the device actually appears on three carriers. Orange, T-Mobile and Three are all selling the Samsung Omnia 7, on various tariffs starting from £35 a month and escalating in cost with a higher amount of accompanying minutes and a greater text message allowance.

The Omnia 7 arrives in a very sleek looking chassis, with black borders around the glass display and with a dark brown rear to the case with curved, smooth edges that enable the phone to fit comfortably in the hand.

The screen size and quality of the Samsung i8700 is of a very high calibre, with a 4-inch AMOLED capacitive touch screen that’s both very responsive to use in addition to vividly displaying colours and the quality of an image. Samsung also used an AMOLED screen in their flagship Android Samsung Galaxy S handset, which was well received by the public and critics alike.

Samsung has used metal materials in the design of the Omnia 7’s casing, which aids in creating much more of a professional business look and feel to the phone – which is a far cry from the plastic Samsung Android Galaxy S.

There have been some odd choices in the placement of buttons and ports around the phone, some of which caused issues over prolonged use of the handset.

The power-on button is located on the right side of the phone, at the top most part of the handset. This is usually placed on the very top of the phone, where Samsung has decided to include the power button in the same location where the Galaxy S has theirs. We found this was a problem with both of the mobile phones, as when the handsets are gripped with the right hand – the phones become locked, as the power-on button is nearly always accidentally pressed. Where the power button would normally reside is where the microUSB charging port is located, on the top of the phone and off to the right.

On the left side of the Omnia 7, towards the top, is the volume button. This was also accidentally pressed countless times, by the side of the left hand’s middle finger – when gripping the Omnia 7 to write in landscape mode. This isn’t as bothersome as the location of the power button, as the volume drop down menu disappears after a few seconds, but it still isn’t the most ideal location for that button.

The shipping storage of the handset is of a good size, for the average mobile phone. Built in to the Omnia 7 is 8GB, which is a decent capacity and the minimum specification of Windows Phone 7 – where the top storage award goes to the HTC HD7, with its 16GB.

The battery life of the Samsung Omnia 7 was fairly decent in our testing of the handset, with an acceptable set of results obtained for a smartphone with a touch screen of that nature.

The Samsung handset was setup with email access, an Xbox live profile and Facebook access with the default updating frequency. The Omnia 7 managed to last for 5 hours and 40 minutes worth of making calls, whilst frequently gathering emails and social networking updates.  This is an acceptable battery life we believe at One Mobile Ring and a phone we firmly believe will convincingly last a standard day of regular use.

There were some foibles to the charging of the Samsung Omnia 7, which we discovered whilst in use. The phone could not be charged whilst powered off, as the i8700 kept powering back on again, which in turn dramatically increased the charge time to almost two hours and thirty minutes. The last mobile we encountered which had this fault was the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10. This handset could also only be recharged in the same way, although this phone is Android based and not Windows Phone 7 driven.

One Mobile Ring will go into Windows Phone 7 in more detail in a later feature , but we’ll briefly touch on the version deployed on the Samsung Omnia 7 where we’ve concentrated more on the hardware.

The Windows Phone 7 layout has been put together in a way that the most commonly accessed screens are never a few clicks away, no matter where you are on the handset. There are 6 main screens, or as Microsoft calls them, ‘hubs’. These are all in categories such as Office, Games, Photos, Music and Video, along with People.

The People Hub pulls in content such as Facebook status updates, as well as the usually found information of phone numbers and email addresses. WP7 phone users can respond to Facebook updates, or send a text message straight from a person’s contact page in the address book without needing to launch another application.

MS has also made information easier to find on Windows Phone 7, with access to Bing functionality in the form of a dedicated search button. This is all in addition to bringing in Xbox live, Microsoft Office Mobile, Windows Live and Zune abilities – with the latter being able to sync music collections wirelessly, from the PC to the mobile phone.

The main home screen can be fully customisable with content, in what the Redmond outfit are calling ‘Live Titles’ – that all have real-time updates from the Internet, such as social networking updates, calendar info and news.

The array of photo options on the Omnia 7 is very vast, where it does take a good picture with its 5 megapixel camera and the 720p video capture is decent too – it’s here where Samsung will be standing out over the other Windows Phone 7 handsets on offer.

Bottom Line

The Samsung i8700 Omnia 7 handset is a good mobile phone, with a fast processor, a decent camera and a great AMOLED screen. What’s holding it back is the operating system behind it, as Windows Phone 7 is very basic and locked down to default Microsoft only options.

One Mobile Ring believes this is intentional and deliberate, giving consumers a powerful phone, with a decent interface and set of features where there aren’t too many options to fiddle with or corrupt.

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