Samsung Omnia 7 - Windows Phone 7 Review
I've had my Samsung Omnia 7 WP7 mobile phone now for some days and here's what I think of it. I will compare it to two other smart phones that I've been in contact with, my previous iPhone 3G and my wife's HTC Desire HD.
I was choosing between the Samsung Omnia 7 and HTC 7 Mozart, and took the former because of the display and powerful 1500mA battery. The first thing you'll notice is that the screen is as good as the reviews says. Very strong colors and sharpness. The 1 Ghz Snapdragon CPU makes this phone a dream compared to my previous iPhone. Everything runs smoothly and I've not yet to experience any lag or long waits1.
The phone weights 138g (incl. battery) and has enough size to not fit your pocket. It is damn right ugly and uncomfortable to hold in one hand for long. The ugliness comes mostly from the choice of putting the Samsung logo and Windows logo on the front. I have no love for these trademarks and would prefer the Apple way - let the design speak for itself and put the logos where they're least obtrusive. The back button and search button in the picture are very sensitive touch buttons that are easy to accidently push when you least want to. Other buttons around the phone, camera, on/off and volume feel very cheap and plastic. That is the only thing however about this phone that feels cheap. Everything is glossy and shiny, Metallic edges and a plastic with the feel of aluminium on the back. + Screen is great + Battery life is acceptable - Ugly with all the logotypes - Uncomfortable to hold in one hand - Easy to accidentially push front buttons - Gets warm after some use.
Compared to iPhone
Apple put a lot of effort into the feel of holding their devices. It is quite noticable when you get hold of something that is not just that well designed. I like that Apple does not use logotype's on the front of the phone, but they have managed to create a visual design that speaks for itself. You don't have to see the logotype to distinguish an iPhone from another smart phone. With WP7 I love the diversity in hardware. I can select the manufacturer the way I want and does not have to stand for what Apple gives me.
Compared to HTC Desire HD
I like the HTC design. They make nice phones, that sometimes feels a bit plastic, but always are well designed. They put their logotype up front but it is very unobtrusive and not at all like SAMSUNG. I don't like that they put too weak batteries into their phones for that much screen. The HTC Desire HD screen is 4.3" (0.3" more than Samsung) and it sucks juice like a new born baby. I did not perceive HTC 7 Mozart as much more than a standard phone, and I wanted a bit more. The HTC HD7 phone seemed to have the same battery life problems as HTC Desire HD and I want to use my phone for the whole day without recharging, thank you!
I really like the WP7 operating system. It is clean and minimalistic. It runs smooth on the hardware and yet it has details that are candy for the eye. Overall I really like the WP7. The setup experience on the phone was done in a blast. I configured my Windows Live, Facebook and WiFi. Upgrading to latest version of the OS was not harder than connecting the phone to my computer and installing Zune. After that I was good to go. The phone had imported all my contacts and it took me no more than a few minutes to move missing contact details from my old iPhone to my new WP7. I think that running Silverlight as development platform for the phone is genius. It really enables us developers to create nice looking applications very fast, and that was why I bought this phone. It is a developer friendly phone - quite the opposite to iPhone.
The Windows MarketPlace contained a lot more applications that I expected and I like the search and rate function. It was trivial to find applications like Twitter, Facebook, Adobe Reader and add them to the phone. Thank you Samsung for not installing a lot of self developed crap applications that most manufacturers do to the phone. I really appreciate that. + Minimalistic design + Great virtual keyboard - Sometimes buttons are too small
Compared to iOS
The end user iOS experience is a nice one, and what I really like about iOS is that I never have to read a manual to find out how to do stuff. Icons and design makes it all so obvious. On the other hand, iOS is crap for developers. You will not only need to learn xcode and objective-c, but also have the latest and greatest of the MacOSX to use the development tools. Then, there is this developers fee for submitting applications to the AppStore where it will take months getting through the review process. Did I mention that Apple does not care about developers? If you do something they don't like, they will fight you. Overall they are a closed down company that will take a fee of 30% for selling your apps on their AppStore. WP7 is not an iOS copy, and I really like that. They have tried to find their own design and go for it. There are some ideas in there that I like much more than iOS, that it becomes natural to span an application across several pages/swipes. The demands of the user base will always give AppStore a lead on Windows Marketplace, but that doesn't concern me. The quality of the service provided for developers on WP7 will encourage quality on apps in WP7 and draw attention of the likes like me.
Compared to Android
I find the Android operating system dull. It is exactly what you would expect from a phone operating system and nothing more. There are no innovative ideas and nothing that triggers the wow-factor. With that said, I think that Android is a very stable platform and well thought through. The massive setup experience of the Android phone left it a complete and impressive machine after installation. There's are a lot of good apps for Android and the system is open. The integration with google products are great and the diversity in hardware choices are fantastic. The WP7 is much more interesting than Android, but Android is both a more open OS and more mature. I would recommend Android phones to my friends any day.
iTunes vs. Zune smackdown
I hate iTunes, I really do. It may be the worst wide spread application ever created for Windows. It really hates the user and does everything it can to annoy you. I know of people that wants to buy an iPhone but can't, because they refuse to install that iTunes crap on their machine. That is why I was initially sceptical to Zune. Same shit, different name. I might however been a tad too fast in my judgement. Zune is the same thing, a hub for your phone where you can sync data from your desktop computer. There are some subtle differences.
- Zune is beautiful and follows the Windows 7 Aero graphical profile
- When Zune wants to update itself, or download new content - it does not make the rest of your computer unusable
- Adding stuff to your phone is much intuitive than iTunes
- You can sync over wifi - no need to plug your phone in
Hold on!? Why do we need this sync crap anyway? The ideal experience would be if my phone could access all media from my media server and I could mark stuff for offline use directly on the phone. I should be able to subscribe to podcasts directly on the phone, and the phone would download new episodes when on Wifi. Maybe we'll see more of that in the future.
Windows Phone 7 in Sweden
Would I recommend this phone to someone that lives in Sweden? - No. Services like GPS, MarketPlace, XBOX Live are not fully released in Sweden so you have to run on UK account. That's crap, but the Android had similiar problems and it took them years to get it all ready. I just hope that Nokia will speed up the process as they start putting demands on Microsoft. Would I recommend this phone to somewhere in US or UK? - Yes! This is a delightful piece of machinery and I think you will enjoy it very much. If you're a developer - even more so. Most of all, I would recommend it to companies that have need for self developed mobile applications for their employees. These companies would save lots of money in development and maintenance costs just by choosing this platform.
Due to Apples operating system upgrades my old iPhone eventually got so slow, that any task took longer than the screensaver timeout ↩