Review: Samsung Omnia i900

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Review: Samsung Omnia i900

A fine touchscreen phone, but held back by Windows Mobile and a slightly disappointing snapper

A smartphone has to live up to its name these days. It can’t just view Word documents, pick up e-mails or browse the web. No, it needs GPS, an innovative touchscreen and preferably a side order of HSDPA.

The Samsung Omnia has all that, as you might guess from its all-encompassing name (it’s Greek for ‘everything’). There’s lots more too, such as an interface that keeps you away from Windows Mobile, an operating system that’s capable but ugly.

Tastes like Tocco

The Omnia includes a home screen with a tab containing widgets such as clock, music player and even network label. You can drag any of these on or offscreen to design the screen the way you want.

The Omnia is a good size – though smaller than the iPhone, which some find too galumphing for everyday use. The Omnia is a little thicker from front to back, but its other dimensions are smaller.

Hey, nice lanyard…

Sadly, Windows Mobile always needs a stylus and a pressure-sensitive screen instead of the visually better capacitive touchscreen of the iPhone. The screen certainly looks lush enough, but brings with it an Omnia weirdness.

The extending stylus is too big to fit into the phone’s casing, so, it comes on a little lanyard that attaches to the phone. We’re sure you’ll agree that stylus plus lanyard equals a very uncool method of navigation.

Still, there’s also a touch-sensitive button, like on the Samsung i8510, which you can use to move the pointer about on screen by stroking it. This works well in the excellent Opera Mini internet browser. There’s plenty of speed in the internet page refresh too, thanks to HSDPA at speeds up to 7.2Mbps – and there’s always Wi-fi as a back up, of course.

Slow-witted camera

The 5 megapixel camera is a mixed bag. Although image quality is very good, there is a slight shutter lag problem, which makes it much slower to react than the Nokia N95 or Motorola ZN5. Still, the smile shutter works well and it’s easy to geotag photos too.

Beyond the snapper, there’s a highly serviceable GPS setup, not to mention the music player where you have 8GB or 16GB of storage to play with.

Touchscreen phones work on the basis of how compelling the illusion is: when you flick through your photos does it feel like you’re browsing a physical album? Here it does.

So does it beat the iPhone? Certainly its Windows Mobile heart is hidden behind a very capable and attractive interface and it’s also a good size and fun to use, though it doesn’t quite ace the iPhone in any respect.

Pros More pocketable than iPhone. Impressive interface.

Cons Strange stylus on a lanyard. Windows Mobile at its heart. Shutter lag on camera

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