The Samsung Omnia W is a mid-range Windows Phone handset, and as such, it offers some decent hardware, namely a 1.4GHz single-core processor, 3.7-inch Super AMOLED display, 14.4Mbps HSPA connectivity and 8 gigabytes of storage.
And if the little fella seems familiar to the folks in U.S, that is because it is pretty much identical to the Samsung Focus Flash, which recently joined AT&T’s lineup. But will it leave us with an impression as good as its U.S. counterpart did once we were done playing with it? Let’s take it for a spin and find out.
The package contains:
•Quick Reference Guide
The Samsung Omnia W is a compact little handset save for the 10.9-millimeter (0.43-inch) profile, which is still decent. It is also very light at 115 grams (4.07 ounces), despite the metal element on the back cover, and pretty comfortable to hold and operate with one hand thanks to the tapered edges and the reasonably-sized screen.
The 3.7-inch Super AMOLED (not Plus) display is a good differentiator among the other new Windows Phone handsets that are already on the market. Its nice, saturated colors are quite appealing and its outdoor visibility is more than satisfactory. The 480×800 pixels of resolution should result in 252ppi pixel density, which is quite good, but the PenTile matrix takes a slight toll on the display’s sharpness. Nevertheless, images look sharp enough and fine text is fairly legible.
The display sports the usual for AMOLEDs pitch blacks, high contrast and very good viewing angles, but the colors displayed are on the colder side, again something that seems inherent to Super AMOLEDs, making white appear blueish.
Overall the design of the Samsung Omnia W doesn’t stray away from the Windows Phone guidelines, offering the obligatory three navigational keys below the screen, with a physical Home button, and a dedicated camera key plus LED flash to accompany the 5MP shooter on the back. The chassis is a tad bland but pleasant to hold and look at, and if the phone was offered in other colors than black it would even be a looker.
Interface and Functionality:
As the case is with all Windows Phone devices, navigation on the Samsung Omnia W is nothing short of flawless. Zipping back and forth through the menus puts no strain whatsoever on the 1.4GHz single-core processor that powers the smartphone. Furthermore, every button and every tile that you touch responds instantly.
The smartphone comes with Windows Phone Mango out of the box, which means that you get multitasking, Internet Explorer 9, deeper than before social network integration, and a whole bunch of other tricks and features. You can swiftly switch between opened applications by holding down the Back button, which brings forth a side-by-side view of all running tasks where each one of them has its own snapshot. Unfortunately, while native apps resume instantly, third-party software lags a bit when being switched to, which is a flaw common for Mango handsets?
The Calendar app also unifies your accounts in sub-calendars, which you can paint in different colors to tell them apart easily. And one of the greatest updates with Mango is better work with SkyDrive, the 25GB free cloud service by Microsoft – documents, photos and other media now sync seamlessly with SkyDrive. Speaking of documents, there are numerous improvements to Microsoft’s Office Mobile on the phone. For example, you can now mark several cells in Excel by dragging your finger down, plus you can now use the famed Autosum function afterward.
Besides all recent Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn updates from a specific contact with the respective photos, in the People hub you now have the History tab. It puts together all your communication venues with a contact – calls, text conversations, emails, and so on. The Me hub, on the other hand, is where you can post messages on social networks, update your status, and check in at your location.
The search button calls up Bing, but there you also have two new modes – a song recognition button, and QR code scanner, which also serves as OCR software to scan a page, and then translate it in different languages. The OCR is hit-or-miss, but they all are on mobile phones, you need a really good source of light and contrast on the page to recognize the text correctly.
The point is that all these little helpers are native for Windows Phone 7.5 Mango, and you don’t have to hit the app markets right away to pimp up your WP phone. This, along with the social networking integration are very good differentiators for a mobile OS that aims to become the third player in the Android-iOS race, since it can’t fight with the number of apps available, just with their native integration.
The simple-looking, but effective virtual keyboard on the 3.7-inch display is easy to use both in portrait and in landscape modes, making messaging a piece of cake. There is built-in spell checker, and nice little perks like a cursor popping up above the text box so you can easily drag it to where you want to make a correction. The minimalistic fashion of moving the cursor, marking and copying text make Android Gingerbread look downright crude in that respect.
The Messaging Hub now puts together in a conversation thread your texts, along with Facebook and Windows Live messages with a contact. The same thread view now goes on in the Email app, which also adds a common inbox for having all your accounts at one place.
While the Omnia W does not come with a ton of software pre-loaded by the manufacturer, it does have a few apps that might come in handy. AllShare is what you would use to stream media to another device over DLNA, while Photo Studio lets you do some basic image editing. You also get an elegant RSS reader called RSS Times, and the Fun Shot application, which is used to add some funky effects to the photos that you take. The most useful app of all, however, is the Now application, which is a blend between a weather, news, and stocks app, and even has its very own live tile to beautify your home screen.
Internet and Connectivity:
The Samsung Omnia W has all connectivity options a device of its class should have – 14.4Mbps HSDPA, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, A-GPS, and FM Radio with RDS. There is no HDMI port for displaying photos and videos directly on a bigger screen, however. A big annoyance is that the phone doesn’t have mass storage mode and you have to install Zune software for communicating with the device.
The GPS software is Bing Maps, and the chip located us for a minute and a half on cold start. Bing Maps has been updated to cover much more countries with detailed maps, and we liked the way it automatically switches to satellite view when you zoom onto the streets. .
The 5MP shooter on the back of the Samsung Omnia W is accompanied by an LED flash, which also serves as a video light when taking footage. It was pretty gloomy when we took our sample shots, yet the camera managed to balance the color levels accurately. The amount of detail is quite sufficient and the digital noise is within an acceptable range. The only drawback that we notice is that moving objects appear slightly blurred, but despite that, we can say that outdoor photos look quite okay. When shooting under indoor lighting conditions, however, the camera seems to have troubles with the color balance, and the result is a predominant cold tone when the flash is off, and a yellowish hue when it is on. Details, on the other hand, are still sufficient for the photos to be usable.
The phone records 720p HD video at 30 frames per second, and has several preset scene modes and effects you can apply to both the video and the stills. As far as video quality is concerned, footage taken in broad daylight is fluid and properly exposed. The microphone did a good job at capturing our voice clearly despite the plentiful amount of street noise. However, just as the case was when taking still images, the colors in videos taken indoors lean towards the cool side. Besides, plenty of digital noise became apparent when we dimmed down the lights.
The music player is with the famed Zune interface, and the Music+Videos hub now allows you to subscribe to and download podcasts, as well as to create your own playlists. The Smart DJ song recommendation function, that was available only in the desktop Zune software or the Zune Player, can now be used directly on the phone. Sadly, the 6.67GB of user-available storage cannot be expanded, which means that you have to make a compromise over which albums from your music collection you should throw on the phone.
When we played back a 720p video sample in MPEG-4 format, we noticed that the audio was slightly lagging behind the image, which is strange considering that the phone should be able to handle 720p playback without any trouble. DivX or Xvid videos are not playable at all due to lack of codec support. Looking on the bright side, videos look great on the phone’s Super AMOLED display.
The Samsung Omnia W may not have a secondary microphone for active noise cancellation, yet its in-call audio quality is well above the average. Voices sound loud and distinct through the earpiece without being distorted even at the highest volume setting. On the other side of the line our voice was loud enough, with only a hint of digitizing.
Its 1500 mAh battery is rated for 6.5 hours of 3G talk time or 380 hours in stand-by mode, which is not anything spectacular, but pretty decent considering the battery life of an average smartphone nowadays.
After weighing in all its positives and negatives, we can say that the Samsung Omnia W is one decent all-around smartphone, especially when we take its price point into account. Sure, it may not come bragging with a dual-core processor, tons of RAM, or any bells and whistles of that kind, but its performance is nothing short of flawless despite the mid-range hardware that is listed on its specs sheet.
If you are looking for a well-balanced handset, the Samsung Omnia W should do the trick, yet here are a few alternatives that you might also want to take a look at. The HTC Radar, for example, is a similarly priced Windows Phone offering that comes with a solid unibody construction and a sharper, 3.8-inch WVGA display. Another option is to check out some Android handsets, such as the Samsung GALAXY W, which comes at a similar price and with a similar specs sheet, yet offers a lot more flexibility when it comes to customization, not to mention the broader choice of software in the Android Market. You might also like theSony Ericsson Xperia ray, which is just as compact and lightweight as the Omnia W, but has a high-res display and a slightly better camera.