Samsung Omnia II First Impressions Review

by Reads (22,621)

The Samsung Omnia II is the newest smartphone offered by Verizon Wireless. It has a few standout components, such as a 3.7-inch, WVGA, AM-OLED screen and a 5.0 megapixel camera/camcorder with flash, some new technology such as the Swype keyboard, and the usual features today’s consumers have come to expect, like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

It launched yesterday for $200 with a two-year contract and a $100 mail-in rebate.

BUILD & DESIGN

When I took the Omnia II out of the box, the first word that came to mind was “sexy” — this really is a nice looking device. It’s a little on the large side compared to other phones, but that’s due to the 3.7-inch, AM-OLED screen, which is absolutely gorgeous. The overall design is sleek and modern, mainly black with chrome accents on the buttons and hematite around the edges of the device.

Samsung Omnia II for VerizonThe battery cover on the back is basically black, but it has really cool red accents that show up more depending on how they catch the light. It’s a subtle effect, nothing too over-the-top or cheesy, but just different enough to set the Omnia II apart from the crowd of similar-looking devices. The top of the back panel is where you’ll find the lens for the 5.0 megapixel camera with flash and video capture capabilities.

This device has a nice heft to it — it’s not so heavy you don’t want to carry it with you, but it’s not so light it feels like an insubstantial toy. At 4.75 inches tall, 2.4 inches wide, and 0.5 inches thick it’s not something you’ll forget that you have in your pocket, but it does fit.

Display
I’ve already mentioned the display, and for good reason — it’s absolutely beautiful. It’s a bit larger than usual, and everything is so big and bright it made me realize just how much squinting I seem to do with other devices. Everything is sharp and neon bright, with saturated colors. Video looks great, with no ghosting issues.

Whether you’re viewing pictures or video or just composing a text message, you’ll like what you see on the Omnia II’s stellar display.

Keyboard
This device has a virtual keyboard, not a physical one, but that doesn’t mean that it’s the same-old, same-old. This is the first device I’ve used with Swype technology, and it’s nifty.

Instead of picking up your finger or your stylus each time you want to move to the next letter, you just slide your finger or stylus to the next one. It was a little strange at first, but I’m really starting to like it. It’s easier on my fingertips than pounding the virtual keys (I always tend to push harder than I need to) and it’s fun too.

Over the next few days I’ll get a better idea of how accurate I can be with the new technology, and will discuss it more fully in the completed review.

PERFORMANCE

The Omnia II runs Windows Mobile 6.5 Professional, but it looks a lot different than you may expect. Samsung has really jazzed things up the user interface with TouchWiz 2.0, homescreen widgets, and the multimedia Cube. I’m still learning my way around at the moment; I’ve had this device for just a day and there’s a lot going on here.

Samsung TouchWiz User interfaceStill, I can already see that performance is nice and fast — I really haven’t seen any delays or hiccups, and applications like Word Mobile start quickly.

My initial call-quality tests have been OK, but not stellar — more testing is required to determine if there is really a concern here. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth work exactly as expected.

Bundled Software
Since this is a Windows Mobile 6.5 phone, there are plenty of productivity applications included, from the usual suspects like Office Mobile and Outlook Mobile to extras like MSN Money and Adobe Reader.

Voice Recognition from Nuance is also included, and my initial results are quite positive. If you find the five(!) pages of menus and the 3D Cube interface overwhelming, you can say any command from “Call Brad” to “Go To Calendar” and things happen exactly as you say.

The Opera Mobile web browser works great, and I like how text is re-flowed as necessary when I double-tap the screen to zoom in.

Samsung Omnia IIThe e-mail experience is somewhat frustrating, though, because everything seems to have been optimized to minimize bandwith usage to an unreasonable extreme. Only message headers and the first 2k of each message are downloaded by default, without any graphics, unless you tap to “download Internet pictures” on a per-message basis. You also have to tap to download the rest of the message, which will only happen the next time you “connect and receive e-mail” unless you choose send/receive in the menu to make it happen immediately. Do you want to browse folders, not just your inbox? You can do it, but you have to change the settings to choose which folders to access. I’m hopeful that some of these settings can be tweaked on a global basis; otherwise the Omnia II email experience will be extremely unpleasant, and not one to which I would wish to subject myself on a long-term basis.

Entertainment options include Media Player for music and videos and a collection of games and demos such as Solitaire, Bubble Breaker, Dice, and Ferrari GT Evolution (which utilizes motion controls). The external speaker is loud enough and clear enough to offer a good gameplay experience without requiring the use of headphones.

The 5.0 megapixel camera takes really good quality photos and videos, with a nice array of options for scene settings and special effects. You can also edit photos on the phone: flip, resize, rotate, crop, brightness, contrast, and color effects.

PRELIMINARY CONCLUSION

After using the Samsung Omnia II for just a day so far, my first impressions are generally positive, with a few concerns about call quality and the e-mail experience.

It’s a sexy device with a gorgeous screen, a really nice camera, and fast performance. There are a few things that require some getting used to as well, such as a radically different, somewhat disjointed, but still slick user interface and the new Swype keyboard. It may be that I just need some more time with the Omnia II to fall in love, or it could suffer from the “jack of all trades, master of none” syndrome — after all this device is trying to be a strong productivity tool and a world class entertainer all rolled into one.

Stay tuned for the full review in a few days.

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