Samsung Omnia 7 I8700 Review

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Samsung Omnia 7 I8700 Review

Postby Tappy » 01 Nov 2010, 15:06

Predictably, I’ve shown up with a Windows Phone 7 Handset Review:

Samsung Omnia 7

Samsung Omnia 7 Specifications
Size: 122.4 x 64.2 x 10.99mm
Weight: 138g
Processor: 1GHz Qualcomm QSD 8250 ‘Snapdragon’
Battery: 1500mAh
Memory: 8GB
Screen: 4in 480 x 800 SAMOLED multi-touch
Camera: 5 megapixel camera with LED flash, HD video recording
Connectivity: Quad band GSM, Dual band WCDMA Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
Sensors: G-Sensor, Proximity Sensor, Ambient light Sensor, Digital Compass
Other features: A-GPS, micro-USB charger, 3.5mm stereo headphone socket

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Introduction
Less than a year ago I bought what is (probably) the best WM6.5 phone that will be made, the HTC HD2. On this phone I had a custom ROM which: made it very reliable; did what I wanted it to; and, if I so desired, I could boot into Android at a touch of a button. Now I’ve ditched that in favour of a phone whose hardware is almost identical but running a different operating system, Windows Phone 7. So, was it worth it?

Styling
I’ve never really paid much attention to Samsung phones, so can’t say how it compares to others such as the Galaxy S, but this handset has gone for a minimalist design and looks great for it. Similar to many touchscreen phones, such as the HTC Desire, on the front it features an almost frameless 4 inch screen which flows into the three mandated buttons required on all WP7 handsets (back, Windows and search). The Windows button is slightly bowl shaped, like the button on an iPhone, which is a bit embarrassing to be honest, but it does sit well on this handset.

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The rear keeps to the simple design with just the manufacturer and OS logos, the battery cover and release clip, and two circles that feature the camera and flash which sit flush with the case - something of a relief after living with the protruding camera of the HD2 for so long. The case is made from a smooth plastic, which has a slightly cool metallic feel to it. This does make the handset very light but also quite elusive in the hands and easy lose grasp of, something I am on the border of doing every time I hold it. Having never owned a Samsung, I had reservations over what the quality of the Omnia 7 would be like, but that feeling is quickly quashed, it’s all very solid and put together well, although I can’t help but be reminded of a Hyundai’s interior. Since Microsoft have insisted on certain quality requirements and test every phone before allowing their operating system on it, hopefully all WP7 handsets should be of decent build quality.

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Around the edges of the Omnia 7 there are the up/down, power and camera buttons, and on the top sit a 3.5mm jack and a micro usb port (with an odd slidey cover). The buttons, resolution, minimum screen size and minimum internal specs are defined by Microsoft, so many handsets are going to have similarities. It’s still not fully confirmed, but indications point toward this being a ‘Chassis 1’ Windows Phone 7 device which features a 480x800 screen, and manufacturers have the option of adding a slide out keyboard. There are rumours of ‘Chassis 2’ handsets, none of which have been released yet, but expect to feature a 480x320 screen with a Blackberry style keyboard below it.

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Hardware
This is the slightly disappointing bit. This phone is no more advanced than a HD2. In fact it’s a little less advanced because it only has 8GB of memory, which is difficult (or in the came of the Omnia 7, impossible) to upgrade. It seems all the manufacturers have opted to place the minimum spec requirements in these handsets, with an occasional feature which is above the base. For instance, Microsoft say a minimum of 8GB storage, almost all of the handsets have only 8GB storage. This includes the processor which is the 1GHz snapdragon (and not the latest one), the camera which is 5MP, the screen size at 3.5” and the screen type at LED capacitive. There are some exceptions: Samsung have opted for Super AMOLED screens on both of their devices; the HTC Mozart has an 8MP camera; the HTC HD7 and the Dell Lightning has more storage; LG also have 16GB of storage and the newer ‘snapdragon’ (8650) in their Optimus 7; and screen sizes across the range do vary up to 4.3”. But no manufacturer has coupled all these above average features together in some class leading device as of yet. This all being said, this Samsung is still a very decent spec for a handset, on par with the high-end Androids, and with the added bonus of a large 4” SAMOLED screen, I can’t grumble too much.

HD7 Handset Summary
The battery life is nothing special. Well, it’s better than my HD2, which would probably only last a working day if not charged, I can go over a day with the Omnia 7! This is probably due to the SAMOLED screen, which is supposed to use less power, and perhaps the OS using less data connectivity when it isn’t needed. With usb ports everywhere now, for me, the need for a never ending battery has lessened. The 5MP camera takes great photographs, in fact I’ve started using it for work instead of my 7MP Canon because the results are so much better – only to be hampered in trying to get the photographs off my phone. The black SAMOLED screen is really black, it merges with the case really well and the colours are so very vibrant, I can really notice the difference compared to the LCD of the HTC. And the expected, and required, bits of technology are there such as WiFi, GPS, level sensor and Bluetooth. Although on the Bluetooth front, it’s mostly useless since you can’t send files or contacts through it anymore. In fact I have no idea what I can use the Bluetooth for, there’s not even a funky blue light to warrant leaving it switched on.

The WP7 OS
I don’t want to go into crazy detail on the OS since there are loads of reviews and demos out there to let you truly judge for yourself. But since the hardware is designed for the software, it can’t be ignored, so I’ll go through some of the key features for me.

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First up has to be the Live Tiles, the dynamic squares on the main screen, this is what the phone is based on. It wants to deliver information quickly, at a glance, but you decide what that information is: I can have a friend as a Tile and I can see his facebook posts; I can stick a stock tile on there if I want to monitor those shares I dream I could afford; I can see what the weather is like at home; or I can have my various email accounts. What I like about this is that I can download an app and if it has a live tile that will give me information, I can pin that to my homepage. I love this concept, and can’t wait to find new apps to give me information faster. My only disappointment is that Twitter isn’t integrated the way Facebook is, since the people I follow on Twitter are a lot more interesting than the drivel of status changes on the ‘book.

The search feature and Bing integration is flawless, a push of that search button and a query in there and you’re sorted. It just seems to work better than it ever did on Windows Mobile. Even on a slow connection, I have results for my query up in seconds, all categorized by local or web results. Depending where you press the search button results in what you search. So if I want to check whether my friend did say in an email a few weeks back that he loved Kylie, I can.

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This phone is smooth, and fast. Coming from Windows Mobile, it was always going to be an improvement, but iOS users comment on its speed. You can flick, scroll, spin and it just does it with ease. If you recall in my HD2 review, I was disappointed that my tens of thousands of text messages just bogged down the system. The texts are filling up on this phone and I can scroll back through them at turbo speed. What is disappointing with the performance is when it comes to launching some apps, it can take a long time. Particularly slow are large games. I can forgive this though, since once loaded they are fine and, I guess, if I’m launching one of these big games, in all likelihood I’m going to spend a while playing them. A bit of an issue, mostly linked to this handset, are the touch sensitive buttons, which I sometimes accidently press whilst gong for some crazy combo in bejewelled, just to have to go through the loading process for the game again.

I always wanted a Zune player, but the lack of UK support meant it would have been a futile task. Now Zune is well and truly here and WP7 supports it seamlessly. It’s much like any media service, you can buy music and videos, stream things. It’s all very good. And if I actually subscribed, I think you can get a load of stuff free. It’s just nice to have something like this on my phone at last. Ironically Spotify released a Windows Mobile client a few weeks ago. If only they were a little sooner, I might have paid for their service. Zune also acts as the new Activesync to transfer items to and from your computer – which as simple as it is to transfer media, it is also a bit of a pain since not every computer I use has it on, and there’s no Outlook integration, so I can’t easily get my contacts and appointments transferred across.

And finally, I'll mention X-Box Live. I’m a PlayStation boy. My phone is an Xbox boy. This is somewhat annoying. Of course the games and integration to Xbox Live is brilliant, it just means to get the most out of it I need to jump ship, buy an XBox and pay for a Gold subscription. I don’t want to! I can hope that Sony will release some PSN integration in the future onto a number of mobile OS’s, but, especially with leaks of their PSP phone running Android, they seem to be going the Google route. Can’t we all just get along?!

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WP7 OS Summary
As much as I was happy with the HD2, and even though I vowed never to leave it, the news around WP7 was getting more and more absorbing. I must be getting old, because I just wanted an app store where every program was guaranteed to work on my handset, with my installed version of the OS. I wanted the social media integration and the Zune services. I also wanted that stability that MS had promised. I no longer wanted to have to find the correct ROM (and therefore invalidate my warranty) that would stop the freezes, the slow downs, the inability to answer my phone because it just wasn’t ready for me yet. With WP7 I have that. What I have lost is the freedom, the ability to change the interface, the ability to put a whole new ROM on and play with registry values, in other words, ‘the do anything the handset was capable of’ ability. But so far, the OS is so good, so intuitive, I haven't really missed this, I was more absorbed by the thought that I could do anything with WM6 than actually doing anything extraordinary with it. Of course, as I’ve mentioned, there are some letdowns with the OS, it has developed iPhoneitus. There’s no copy and paste, no tethering, no USB mass storage, no flash support in the browser, no sending files via Bluetooth etc. But releasing many of these features later is what seems to make a phone successful these days, and if Microsoft keeps to their plan, that is what will happen, new updates will come often, with copy and paste already scheduled for early next year. And, apparently, I shouldn’t have to suffer the age old problem of update deployment being down to the carrier or handset OEM. I also have hope that Silverlight and XNA programming, along with a much improved marketplace experience, will encourage developers to make apps and make the OS popular, similar to what happened with the iPhone.

Something I have to mention that isn’t really a WP7 issue, but relates to Zune and XBox is what became quite a bugbear for me. Years ago I linked my Live ID to a Zune account, Zune only existed in the US at the time, so this meant my Live ID became linked to the US. It seems you can’t change regions. What is more problematic is that if you linked your Gamertag to this, you can end up having a host of achievements and the like, which want to stay in the land of the free! You can migrate your Gamertag to a new Live ID (for free once every 30 days – but only through the dashboard on a Xbox 360) but that Zune account isn’t going anywhere. So in the end, instead of facing the US Marketplace every time I wanted to download something, I started using my @live.co.uk ID and just opted to make a new Gamertag and leave my gamerpoints from Dawn of War II behind. Took me a while to think of a new name for my Player742564236721821884657236721 though.

Conclusion
Overall I am delighted with the Omnia 7. To be honest I’m more pleased with the upgrade in the OS than the (upgrade in the) handset whose only real difference from the HD2 was a better screen and a different shell. I was originally looking for a HTC HD7 which was just a rebadged HD2, but lacklustre reviews put me off. Also the current contracts on O2, which the HD7 is exclusive to, are so poor compared to any other operator, or even compared to their own Simplicity 15 which I had been on for years, that I couldn’t justify the costs, so I moved to Orange. The 8GB storage isn’t really an issue for me, I only used 4GB of space on my old phone and that was a mess of files that needed deleting. Despite the minor hardware difference from my previous phone, WP7 does make the handset shine more brightly than WM6 could ever do. It just feels like a more complete package now. Even if WP7 doesn’t achieve the greatness that iOS or Android has, this phone suits me rather well.

Pros

+ Good hardware
+ Good looks
+ WP7 is leaps and bounds better than WM6
+ Great screen

Cons

- My previous phone had the same internal specs
- Low internal storage
- It’s early days for the OS


Disclaimer
Since I kept my OS talk down, if you do have any questions about it then feel free to ask.

I should also apologise, that I’ve been using Windows Mobile products for a long time and I have never owned an iPhone or an Android device (unless you count the HD2 dual booting), so I have no doubt that I am somewhat biased in my views.

And as always, I'm no photographer - I just took some pics for the Techpond love!
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Re: Samsung Omnia 7 I8700 Review

Postby Advocate » 01 Nov 2010, 15:24

nice review. was wondering how long it would be before someone on the pond got their mitts on a winpho 7.

looks a lot like my galaxy s, although probably lessplasticy. I hope for your sake the Samsungness of it isn't going to cause you problems like it has with everything Samsung I have owned!
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Re: Samsung Omnia 7 I8700 Review

Postby robbo » 02 Nov 2010, 02:53

Liking the review! I quite like the look of winpho 7 and would like to try it (I've got a Zune player and like that too) but as I've only fairly recently got a new android phone I'm not in the market for a new phone.

My sister on the other hand is. She'd like the HTC desire but is looking for Office support so will pass on the positive winpho 7 news!
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Re: Samsung Omnia 7 I8700 Review

Postby Tappy » 02 Nov 2010, 16:41

I'm impressed you managed to read the review - I prattled on a bit....

I hope the Samsungness will be okay. It certainly wouldn't have normally been my first choice. But, surprisingly, the Koreans seem to have come out on top with both Samsung and LG having the most applauded WP7 handsets at the moment.

The HTCs have numerous reports of performance issues such as crashes, slow memory access (due to using class 0 micro SD cards) and even their 8MP equipped handset is supposed to take poor photographs. What they do have going for them is that the HD7, 7 Mozart, 7 Trophy and (later this year) 7 Pro are all very good looking phones.

The Dell Venue Pro handset will also be one to look out for, which is a vertical slider and has some interesting specs such as 16GB storage and gorilla glass.

As far as Office support goes, I mentioned Outlook syncing was missing. Apparently if you are running Exchange, your calendar and contacts will sync via that.
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Re: Samsung Omnia 7 I8700 Review

Postby EviL Ras » 02 Nov 2010, 17:32

nive review! but i cant believe your kit is named as pokemon... ;)
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Re: Samsung Omnia 7 I8700 Review

Postby Johnmcl7 » 03 Nov 2010, 23:49

I think Samsung and WP7 are probably a good mix because MS are retaining tight control of the OS therefore Samsung can focus on producing the decent hardware without cocking up the OS part. I didn't like the sound of WP7 at all and while it's not something I'd buy myself I think they've launched well and their iOS style approach now makes sense as they can avoid the fragmentation issues Android is having while still offering more flexibility than Apple.

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Re: Samsung Omnia 7 I8700 Review

Postby matt » 04 Nov 2010, 00:33

Johnmcl7 wrote: as they can avoid the fragmentation issues Android is having while still offering more flexibility than Apple.

John


could be a big bonus, it will be interesting to see if this control makes it easier to develop for. Although at this stage the two main choices would be droid or ios for me still.

Well, pretty sure I'll go back to apple actually.
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Re: Samsung Omnia 7 I8700 Review

Postby Tappy » 04 Nov 2010, 09:52

When details were first coming out I didn't like the idea of WP7 at all. But eventually I started to see where it was coming from, like when I went to the Marketplace on WM6 and saw reviews of games which said, "doesn't work on my Touch HD - waste of money", "runs too slow on my Xperia X1", "Great game! Fanstastic!"... etc. No one could buy with confidence there. It was a mess.

But actually taking the plunge and buying a handset and liking it was mostly chance. And through reading many, many, many reviews.

Now, what has me hooked, is the whole smoothness of the OS. Just being able to jump in and out of programs and the "whoops wrong program, go back" and it handles it no problem. It doesn't keep trying to load the program just to have it pop up randomly or sit there all confused slowing down your device. It's not something I had ever really noticed so much before, but now it's gone, I don't want it back!

And Ras, incidentally I've named the handset Mewtwo :)
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Re: Samsung Omnia 7 I8700 Review

Postby EviL Ras » 04 Nov 2010, 10:44

Huzzah!
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Re: Samsung Omnia 7 I8700 Review

Postby Replicant » 13 Nov 2010, 15:05

Was playing with an HTC 7 Trophy earlier and loved the WP7 os - seemed very smooth and polished and quite frankly made my N900 look like a piece of clunky crap. I am VERY tempted to get a new WP7 phone now!!
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Re: Samsung Omnia 7 I8700 Review

Postby Tappy » 05 Apr 2011, 09:46

Finally got the NoDo update on my Omnia 7, this is the one with copy and paste. Been waiting a while, since the pre-NoDo wouldn't work no matter what I tried because of the Samsungness, but Microsoft released a tool yesterday to get around this issue.

So, Copy and Paste... it seems simple enough to use, but I really didn't miss it, so I'm yet to try it out much. The update also brought a more stable marketplace, and faster loading times for apps - although this was more of a problem for other manufacturers who use internal SD cards for memory. So really, despite much attention, a relatively minor update. :(
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Re: Samsung Omnia 7 I8700 Review

Postby Replicant » 06 Apr 2011, 08:01

I am just loading it up on my HTC Trophy at the moment - takes a longgggg time!
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Re: Samsung Omnia 7 I8700 Review

Postby Advocate » 27 Jul 2011, 10:16

I sold my Galaxy S to my girlfriends mum and got an Omnia 7 back around December time - still like it but there are a lot of things missing from it.

- Tethering (ability is there according to MS but they won't unlock it unless the carrier says they can. I'm on three and they say I can tether, still not able to)
- Timer - there is an alarm clock but not timer!? I use timers a lot so this is a pain
- Flash, HTML5, Silverlight - I can't watch BBC iplayer :(
- it is too tied in to social networking (especially facebook) fortunately as I left facebook this isn't too much of a problem for me but it is very short sighted I feel.

Other than that I think it is a very nice phone.
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Re: Samsung Omnia 7 I8700 Review

Postby Tappy » 27 Jul 2011, 10:59

There is a way to get tethering on the Omnia 7 using a USB cable, but you probably know about that and want a proper way to do it...
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Re: Samsung Omnia 7 I8700 Review

Postby Advocate » 01 Aug 2011, 20:10

Aye - I am aware of that, tried it myself but my win7 laptop doesn't seem to see the phone as a modem no matter what I do. A proper fix would be good!

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