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.
There’s a lot going on here, and even after spending a couple of weeks with this device I can still lose my way now and then. Thankfully performance is nice and fast — I really haven’t seen any delays or hiccups, and applications like Word Mobile start quickly.
You can put widgets on the three-panel homescreen, and everything is fully customizable. You can even shop for new widgets in the Widget Store. You’ll find a wide variety, with everything from E! Online, G4TV.com, and the Urban Dictionary to entertainment apps like a lighter, glow stick, and Magic 8 Ball. All of the widgets currently available are free, though of course that can change at any time.
Tap the Menu button at the bottom of the screen to bring up a list of all the software installed on the device. It runs several pages and includes absolutely everything, from My Contacts and My Pictures to games and Office Mobile. You can move things around if you like, and you’ll probably want to do so — the Office applications are buried on the fourth page of the menu, with all of the carrier-specific stuff like V Cast Music and V Cast videos on the font page.
My call quality tests have been OK, but not stellar — my callers can definitely tell that I’m using a mobile phone. Background noise wasn’t too much of a problem; the issue was more one of volume, making me feel that I needed to talk somewhat louder than normal in order to be heard.
3G mobile broadband, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth work exactly as expected, without any issues.
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 results are quite positive. If you find the five(!) pages of menus and the 3D Cube media interface overwhelming, you can say any command from “Call Brad” to “Go To Calendar” and things happen exactly as you say. It works very well, and was a joy to use, unlike most voice recognition apps.
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.
The e-mail experience is, however, extremely frustrating. Everything seems to have been optimized to minimize bandwidth usage to an unreasonable extreme. 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, and that menu option is pretty well hidden.
Even worse, only message headers and the first 2 Kb 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. Want to scroll to the right in order to see the other half of your message? You have to tap in a specific place to enable horizontal scrolling, which is a real pain. I’m hopeful that some of these settings can be tweaked on a global basis; otherwise the Windows Mobile e-mail experience will be extremely unpleasant, and not one to which I would wish to subject myself on a long-term basis.
There’s a lot of fun to be had with the Omnia II, and it starts on the home screen. When you select the Cube menu option at the bottom of the screen, you’re presented with a really cool spinning cube that highlights your available options, from games to V Cast music and videos, to photos and the Web.
If you don’t want to use the cube, you can make your selections at the bottom of the screen. Choose video and you’ll see a flip list of every available video on the device, whether it was preloaded or something you shot with the phone’s camcorder feature. It’s a nice interface that works well and quickly gets you where you want to go.
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.
V Cast Song ID is included with the phone, and it works very well, even with the relatively obscure songs I tested.
The 5.0 megapixel camera takes really good quality photos and videos, with a nice array of options for scene settings and special effects. The zoom is quite nice — it gets you much closer to the action, though the picture quality does suffer a bit.
I’m quite pleased with the quality of both still photos and video I’ve been able to take with the Omnia II — it won’t replace a standalone digital camera, but it’s much better than what you’d typically expect to find on a mobile phone.
You can also edit photos on the phone: flip, resize, rotate, crop, brightness, contrast, and color effects.
Battery life has proven to be a real standout with the Omnia II, though I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised considering how the e-mail experience has been throttled back so severely. I was able to get a full week on standby, and probably could have eked out a couple more days before plugging it in.