Whilst HTC decided to unleash three devices for the launch of Windows Phone 7, Samsung has taken a more reserved approach with just the one.
As a lone ranger, you would expect the Samsung Omnia 7 to have something special in its arsenal, and it does. Besides the clarity and vibrancy of its 4-inch capacitive Super Amoled display (capable of displaying 16 million colours), it has the best video and picture quality of all the handsets we have reviewed that feature the stylish Windows Phone 7 operating system.
It boasts a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, a 5-megapixel camera with a LED flash, 720p video recording, 8 or 16GB of storage, – virtually everything when it comes to the specs is the same as on all the other first-generation WinPho 7 devices.
Judging by specs alone though would paint an unfair picture. You see, the Omnia 7, as stated above, has a very good camera. In terms of quality, it beats both the Mozart’s 8-megapixel beast and the HD7s similarly numbered one.
Its LED flash is the weakest link in the chain, so for close up indoor photos it is on sub-par with the others, but for everything else it captures far more realistic colours, a lot more detail and far less blurry images. It isn’t the best camera we have ever tested, but it’s unsurpassed on the Windows Phone 7 platform at this time.
The same goes for 720p video recording. Where the HD7 occasionally adds a blue tint to its recordings, the Omnia 7 maintains a more natural look.
Another plus is battery life. A sister magazine’s battery test indicated the Omnia 7 is able to last a quite a lot longer than the HD7. We are happy with anything above a day’s use, and we’ve yet to test a Windows Phone 7 handset that doesn’t achieve this, but for sheer duration it comfortably wins, thanks to a larger battery.
Going back to the screen, we must admit extended use of the HTC HD7 has us feeling like we have downgraded when using other handsets, with exception to the Dell Streak and its 5-inches of real estate.
The feeling isn’t so bad on the Omnia though, as it isn’t much smaller and what it lacks in size it makes up for in clarity and its superiority in viewing angles. Some may feel Super Amoled screens make colours a little too ‘harsh’ or strong, preferring handsets without it instead, but we definitely found the display beautiful.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for how the Samsung’s looks. We love the front view, complete with its hardware button donning the Windows logo, but when turned around the grey, slightly dull and uninspiring casing spoils the show.
It looks as if the internals have been placed in a dated case Samsung had lying around. In fairness, none of the first Windows Phones are works of art, and we are not hugely bothered when the screen is as good as it is, but those of a more aesthetical mindset may be a bit disappointed. On the flipside, its rounded edges make it comfortable to hold for lengthy periods of time.
On the subject of ergonomics, the volume buttons are located on the left, which makes them easier to press when holding it, and as mentioned before, the hardware home button is a nice addition as they tend to be a little more reliable. It’s also more ergonomic than the HD7 but its buttons do feel a little on the cheap side. Coupled with the questionable back casing and a weight of 138g, the Omnia 7 doesn’t feel as quality as the Mozart or even the HD7.
Windows Phone 7 was very reliable during our testing. There were moments when touch screen presses didn’t register, a problem we didn’t encounter on the HD7, but nothing to go mad about. On the whole, the OS looked excellent and operated as it should. Our dedicated OS review looks at everything in more detail, but generally speaking, we think it is the best looking operating system on the market, and a definite alternative to that of iOS or Android.
As this is an Orange handset, a few extra applications come with the package, all of which can be uninstalled or unpinned from the home screen if you don’t want them.
The first is Orange Wednesdays, which is an app dedicated to not only letting you take up the 2-4-1 cinema offer, you can find your nearest cinema, what’s on, times and user reviews – useful for any cinema-goers.
Orange Maps is the second app. At the time of writing, the service was still not live, so we won’t pass judgment. We assume it will appear nearer the time of the Omnia 7’s launch. Considering Windows Phone 7 has Bing Maps built in, Orange’s own application will have to offer something different if it’s to find a use. If it does, then its inclusion is most welcome.
The last two apps are Orange Daily, for what’s going on in the World, and Your Orange. The latter acts as an account management application, showing you how many texts and minutes you have used or have left, costs and other information you may find useful. Considering the unreliability of the Orange website (at least whenever we go to use it), we welcome anything that bypasses the need to use it with welcome arms, flowers and a briefcase of money.
Samsung has done a great job with the Omnia 7. Because of the strict Microsoft standards manufactures have to abide by when making a Windows Phone 7 handset, it takes virtually every task in its stride, it is equally at home recording video, taking photos or playing music, thanks to the built-in Dolby Mobile/Surround Sound Enhancement (SRS).
If you want to get involved with Microsoft’s latest operating system are after the best video and photography quality from a Windows Phone 7 smartphone as well as extra battery life, the Samsung Omnia 7 is the handset to go for. Just try not to look at it for too long.