Product: Samsung Omnia II GT-I8000
System Specifications: 3.7-inch AMOLED touch screen, Windows 6.5, 5 megapixel camera, 3.5mm audio jack, microSD, Bluetooth, WIFI, A-GPS
Price: £340 SIM Free
THE SAMSUNG OMNIA II GT-I800 is the firm's sequel to the original touchscreen Omnia from 2008, and the South Korean electronics giant has updated the phone's operating system, screen size and quality among other features.
The Omnia II is slightly larger than the first Omnia phone and very close to the actual size of an Iphone. It measures 118mm x 60mm x 11.9mm. The only noticeable difference between the Omnia II and the Iphone is in the screen size and quality.
The Omnia II screen is a larger version than its predecessor had, which was only 3.2 inches whereas this updated model has a 3.7-inch resistive touch screen. Samsung has opted for an AMOLED 480x800 screen instead of the previous TFT 240x400 display. Colours and images are much sharper and far more vibrant as a result. It's nearly the same difference as viewing a DVD on an old CRT TV compared to a Bluray 1080p film on a high quality HDTV screen. The image is very good, and this is especially seen in the way the handset handles video playback from one of the comprehensive list of supported codecs, including XViD and WMV. Thanks to the neon-esque colours used as the primary theme on the Omnia II everything seems so much brighter and more distinct.
Although the screen is large and bright, it was quite unresponsive to use or, more appropriately, the onscreen keyboard was. It was one of the most frustrating devices we have ever encountered and was gravely disappointing to use. Every tap of the keyboard, either in portrait or landscape mode, missed its mark by a couple of letters in the most annoying travesty of a touchscreen that we have ever seen. Even evoking the Omnia II calibration program for the touchscreen proved fruitless.
A single text message took around five minutes to type, with just a line or two of text, and dire frustration was felt with every missed key-stroke. The best way we discovered to send someone a missive was to write it down on a piece of paper, capture the note with the 5 megapixel camera, then send it on via MMS, which took around 15 seconds compared to the five minutes it took to key it in. We cannot stress enough how truly appalling typing on the Omnia II really was. As our first experience of a Windows 6.5 mobile this does not leave a great first impression for either Microsoft or Samsung.
The phone uses the Samsung ARM1176 S3C6410 800Mhz mobile processor, which isn't as fast as the Qualcomm 1Ghz Snapdragon chipset but it does seem a good fit and we saw little lag. Occasionally, in moving between screens or launching applications we saw some delay, but this could be down to a few applications all running at once under the OS. The phone does seem to be faster in regular operations than the first mobile in the series. However, this is only on launching applications and on various miscellaneous functions, as anything regarding text entry just halted the whole process and we really couldn't fairly gauge anything in that realm in our testing.
The Omina phones run the Microsoft Windows Mobile OS, and Samsung has gone with version 6.5 or what's now known as just Windows Phone. It also went with an overlay to Windows Phone, which is called TouchWiz. This is the same name as Samsung's GUI for the Symbian mobile OS running on its Jet handset, which operates in much the same way. The second generation of TouchWiz is used on the Omnia II, and there are three home screens, which must be a nod to Android since they can also house widgets. There's a slight letdown with these widgets, as although some of them appear to be fully functioning applications in themselves, they are in actual fact just short cuts to their main websites when run.
There are some aspects to the OS on the phone that do have some merit, from the security measures to the choice of web browser. Included on the Omnia II is the Microsoft My Phone application, for backing up all the mobiles' contents into the cloud. Some aspects of the Microsoft implementation have a cost attached, such as remotely erasing a lost phone. Showing a lack of faith that Samsung has in Microsoft Internet Explorer for the mobile phone, it has opted for Opera mobile as the default web browser. This works well on most occasions, but the fairly unresponsive screen holds it back along with the lack of multi-touch on the display.
Samsung's Omnia II has some traits we haven't seen before in a mobile, some good and some bad. When the phone rings, placing it face down on a flat surface, or just flipping it over if already on a flat surface, mutes the ring tone. It's a good feature and one that works well, it's especially useful in meetings although it doesn't work on message arrival notifications or the phone's alarm. On the latter it could be very useful as a snooze function or just as a simple way to cancel an alarm, since many people also use their mobile as an alarm clock.
The other foible we discovered that irked us, other than trying to access small icons on the screen, was the mobile's screen lock. The handset automatically enters standby quite fast when not in use, while recovering from that mode isn't simply performed by pressing the power or end call button, it's more complex than that.
There's a button located on the right-hand side of the handset solely for recovering from standby, and there's also an icon on the screen that needs to be slid across the display for the mobile to be fully brought back in to life. This standby button is frequently unresponsive, where upon being pressed again throws the phone quickly from being awake into standby once again. A period of time has to pass before an attempt can be tried once more, and the icon on the screen is small and as a result unresponsive. This all just adds to the whole frustration felt in using the mobile.
Samsung has raised the battery power from the original Omnia to the Omnia II, and has implemented a 1500mAh battery and dropped the 1400mAh version. We didn't benchmark the original phone, but the website says that the phone can last around 6 hours and 30 minutes on calls. In our tests the Omnia II GT-i800 lasted for an amazing 10 hours and 53 minutes while making calls before the battery ran out - which is the longest time we've ever seen on any mobile phone.
On paper the Omnia II appears to be a good successor to the original Omnia, but in the cold light of day the reality is somewhat different. This was a truly disappointing mobile to use, since the touchscreen was so inaccurate in interpreting requests that the only way to accurately send a text message was to write it down on paper, take a photo of that and then send it as an image. The only positive aspects to take away were the AMOLED display's image quality, which was so amazingly sharp with vivid colours that it was close to watching an HDTV screen. Also the battery lasted the longest we have ever seen for making calls, which was well over an average day and close to 11 hours. µ
Sharp and vivid AMOLD screen, aspects of Windows Mobile, very long battery life.
Widgets not very good, frustrating screen lock.
Completely inaccurate onscreen keyboard which was very frustrating to use.
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