The Samsung Omnia 7 is to the Samsung Galaxy S what the HTC HD7 is to the HTC Desire HD. It’s the Windows Phone 7 equivalent of a bloody great smartphone that everyone has fallen in love with already. Is its Super AMOLED screen still the talk of telephone town? And can its specs help it stand out from the Windows Phone 7 crowd? We’ve been testing out the Samsung Omnia 7 for you, and have the answer right here: read on for our full Samsung Omnia 7 review.
Read the rest of our Windows Phone 7 review
Windows Phone 7 review
Windows Phone 7 review: Internet Explorer and Bing
Windows Phone 7 review: People hub and messaging
HTC HD7 review
Microsoft’s made an unusual move with Windows Phone 7: it’s made manufacturers stick to a bare minimum spec sheet, to stop budget handsets with slow interfaces letting the side down as we’ve seen happen on Android. And the Samsung Omnia 7 sticks to those specs by and large: a humming 1GHz CPU that makes games and apps fly, a five megapixel camera and just 8GB of storage. These all lead to a perfectly smooth experience, but they’re nothing out of the ordinary.
Where Samsung really steps on the gas though is with the Samsung Omnia 7’s screen. It’s beautiful. Just like the 4-inch, WVGA Super AMOLED screen on the Samsung Galaxy S, it will quite possibly cause your eyeballs to implode. A lot of the Windows Phone 7 UI uses black (Perhaps in a bid to save the battery life of AMOLED screen phones), and the Samsung Omnia 7 does it justice in a way the HTC HD7 simply can’t.
The problem is the rest of the Samsung Omnia 7’s build. If you’ll recall in our glowing Samsung Galaxy S review, we said Samsung needed to drop its piano black plastic design ethos – it has, but what it’s gone for instead is the worst of both worlds.
Don’t get us wrong, we like the fact that the metal casing on the Samsung Omnia 7 is smudge-resistant and impressively warm. It just looks dull, like an overweight Samsung Wave. There’s nothing wrong with any of the port placement (though the micro USB sliding door on the top is a bit unnecessary), but it’s just dreary, and the angular lines make it look chunkier than it is. Despite that dazzling screen, we just didn’t enjoy holding it as much as we did the HTC HD7. Sure, that’s an emotional decision rather than a rational one, but we know plenty of people will react that way when they come to test out phones on display in a shop.
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The camera on the Samsung Omnia 7 meanwhile is a hit and miss affair. Focusing was noticeably quicker than on the HTC HD7 when it came to taking stills, and the HD video shot below (Of er, the HTC HD7) shows its impressive 720p video recording skills. Shots with the flash came off considerably worse than with the dual LED shooter on the HD7. One odd difference we noticed with the camera on the Samsung Omnia 7 is that it doesn’t offer a QVGA resolution recording mode, where the HTC HD7 does. It doesn’t really matter, but we’re surprised to see Microsoft allowing differentiation in something as minor as this.
Samsung hasn’t added much on top of Windows Phone 7, other than a pointless Samsung Zone in the Marketplace with three uninteresting apps. The Samsung Omnia 7 unit we had did also have some Orange software preloaded, which gives us some idea of what to expect from networks when it comes to bloatware. Orange has bolted on its Daily Reader news app, plus its own hub and Orange Maps – which wasn’t working but should be soon – while we object to its presence on Android, Bing Maps doesn’t offer turn by turn navigation, so it might prove a welcome addition here.
We can’t say we cared for any of them, but we did quite like Orange’s custom shade of, well, orange for the homescreen. And sensibly, it hasn’t crippled the Search button in Internet Explorer like O2 has: it still launches the native Bing app. And if you’re buying the Samsung Omnia 7 on another network (like T-Mobile), you won’t see any of this anyway. As with HTC and the HD7, Samsung has failed to make the Omnia 7 stand out from the Windows Phone 7 crowd with its software. That’s frankly not an issue though when the screen is incredible.
We didn’t notice anything stand out about the battery life or the call quality on the Samsung Omnia 7: you’ll survive a day, and you can hear people talking just fine, but won’t want to host speakerphone conferences with it. Which leaves anyone after a Microsoft mobile at an impasse. If you know you want a Windows Phone 7 handset, you’re left to choose between great screen or great design – it’s a pity we can’t have both just yet.
The Samsung Omnia 7 has made our Best Samsung phone Top 5, which is why we’ve given it our Recommended rosette. Check out more Top 5s here and find out more about how they work with our Top 5 guarantee.