Having a look at the (woeful) Samsung Omnia

Our resident new student, Dan Pullen, has been having a look at the Samsung Omnia. Having obtained one, what does he reckon? Let’s find out.

Caution, though: The Omnia is Windows Mobile… which as we all know is a rather challenging OS for anyone other than the most patient…

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Recently Samsung released the iPhone-rivalling Omnia i900, which incorporates superior features such as, build in GPS, a 5MP camera with flash, video calling through 3G as well as automatic synchronisation with MSN live messenger and Hotmail.

I have been using the handset for about three days, and am impressed with its high-end features. The Omnia comes loaded with nearly every feature that the Apple iPhone does, but adds components such as a high resolution camera and the ability to picture and video message, which people have come to expect in a high end mobile device — and Apple has, as yet, failed to deliver.

In terms of hardware, the Omnia sports a laminated chrome and silver front with a mirrored touch screen (3.2 inches), as well as a plastic back which comes in either black or white. The handset feels solid and sits just right in the hand, however I was not impressed with the strange stylus, which hangs on the outside of the phone and resembles a mascara tube.

The user interface of the phone is the latest Windows Mobile with Samsung customizable widget home screen. After using the phone for a short amount of time I have realised how incredibly frustrating Windows Mobile can be, with tiny icons forcing you to use the stylus, confusing sub menus, and general incompatibility with Apple.

One of the only positives for the UI was the Haptic feedback from the touch screen as well as the touch sensitive mouse pad, which helps you be precise in your choice of tiny Windows icon.

In terms of multimedia, the phone has been somewhat of a disappointment, with over half of my MP3 files being labelled as corrupt data, despite being able to be played on my old phone and iPod. Also despite the handset supporting Youtube videos; it appears that you are not able to view them via WiFi as I expected, but must use
the mobile network instead which, of course, is not free — and requires an unlimited data package.

PDA features such as the personal organiser, handwriting recognition and the virtual appointment card all serve their purpose without much fault, which would definitely make this phone more suitable for the business user in need of a personal organiser as well as a phone. And, er, a mascara tube stylus.

I don’t recommend the Omnia for someone in search of a fun multimedia handset. iPhone it ain’t.

Other points of frustration are the relatively lo-res screen, loading large amounts of data onto the internal memory (seemed to slow the device massively), and the fact that British retailer Phones4U advertised the Samsung Phone as the 16GB version, but merely supply you with the 8GB version and give you an 8GB SD card to go with it.

Overall I would say that despite offering superior features to the iPhone, the Omnia’s painful interface prevents it from being the iPhone killer that people were hoping for.

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I don’t know about this Mascara tube stylus, Dan!

I’m pleased that it’s not just me who thinks Windows Mobile is a thoroughly annoying operating system. I’ve seen the Omnia ads on the tube in London and I haven’t been fooled for a minute. Good on paper, but in practice… no.

I wonder if Sony’s Xperia will suffer from the same malaise.

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

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