The Samsung Focus 2 is the most recent 4G LTE Windows Phone release, joining the ranks of the Nokia Lumia 900 and the HTC Titan II. Armed with an entry-level price of $50, the Focus 2 seemingly tries to balance the strengths and weaknesses of the more recent 4G handsets, like size, processing power, camera quality, etc. But, as is usually the case with compromise, the Focus 2 ends up mostly in happy medium territory, making it more than a jack of all trades, but still not quite a master of any.
Build & Design
After the release of two massive 4G Windows Phones, the Lumia 900 and the Titan II, the build of the Focus 2 is a refreshing change of pace. It takes on a more traditional, compact build, measuring 4.8 x 2.5 x 0.4 inches, making it a more comfortable device to hold and use one-handed. Still, I found it curious that Samsung touted the Focus 2 as being thin and sleek when it was first announced; it may be a more manageable size in terms of its width and height, but it's actually slightly thicker than the Titan II (which was 0.4 inches thick). Thankfully, at 122 grams, it's at least lighter than the brick-like Lumia 900 (160 grams) and Titan II (173 grams).
The Focus 2 has a very clean aesthetic, coming only in white with silver trim. The glow of the brightly backlit capacitive navigation buttons below the screen is a nice touch, too. The only issue I have with the phone's design is that it's made entirely out of shiny, slick plastic, and that includes the entire back panel. Without any sort of curvature or textured surface, this thing is just bound to get dropped or slip out when users attempt to cradle it between their ear and shoulder.
Easily one of the weakest points of the Focus 2 is its display: a 4-inch screen that sports an unimpressive 480 x 800 pixel resolution. And although it was decently bright and there was depth to its colors and blacks -- due to it being a Super AMOLED display -- the fact that I could easily see individual pixels without even having to hold the phone all that close to my face is entirely unacceptable. The graininess was so bad that it reminded me of the similarly rough display found on the Galaxy Player 3.6.
The one thing that the display of the Focus 2 has going for it is that 4 inches is a respectable screen size for a phone that's as relatively compact as this one. To me, it seems like a reasonable compromise between a slightly larger screen that pushes the size of the handset into unwieldy territory (see: the Lumia 900 or Titan II) and a smaller screen that's uncomfortable to use.
The rest of the Focus 2's design is by-the-numbers. The bottom edge of the device is where you'll find the micro USB/charging port, while the 3.5mm headphone jack is on the top. The volume rocker is located on the left side, and the power/standby button and the dedicated camera button are both on the right.
That just leaves the back side, which is where the rear-facing, 5-megapixel camera and flash are located, as well as the phone's speaker. There is also a front-facing, 0.31-megapixel (VGA) camera that is placed in the upper left-hand corner on the front of the phone, right above the display.
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