Samsung Omnia 7 4 Stars

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Fancy picking up a Windows Phone 7 handset when you next upgrade? To make it easier to choose, Microsoft has ensured that manufacturers adhere to a strict set of specifications, which means that there is little to choose between them.

First looks

However, choose you can. For anyone who wants a really decent high-res camera, then the HTC Mozart will be your phone of choice. Fancy a really good sized screen? Then buy the HD7. If, however, you love a device that is totally stylish, you’ll have to stop at the Samsung Omnia 7. It boasts solid build quality and we loved the tactile quality of the metal rear casing. The touch-sensitive Search and Back icons can be found at the base of the screen, but the Windows Start button is a pressable round button – it is rather like the iPhone’s home button, and Samsung has chosen to put it into the same position. It sits flush with the handset, which means that it would be hard to press it in error. All this means you can fire up the display from standby, just by pressing the Start button – which makes it different from other Windows Phone 7 phones. It’s not a make-or-break issue, but for iPhone defectors, it will be something they are already familiar with.

And if you’re still looking for that power button – take a peek under the sliding door on the right-hand side of the device. It’s about three-quarters of the way up the side, and hides the micro USB connector.

Super-vivid screen

The stand-out part of the device is the screen, which measures four inches. Samsung has really hit the jackpot with its AMOLED screens. And it helps that Windows Phone 7 is naturally vivid, as are the bright hues of the Orange network, which we were treated to on our handset. It all adds up to an eye-popping treat. Windows Phone 7 scores highly on its style and good looks, so a fantastic screen like that on the Omnia 7 really does it justice. We’d say that Windows Phone 7 looks better on this phone than on any other device on the market.

Be aware that Microsoft’s standard conditions for the Windows Phone 7 handsets are not minimum specs – in fact handset makers are instructed not to exceed many of the specs – which means that there are the same number of pixels on its screen than on the bigger display of the HTC HD7.

Windows Phone 7 offers a pair of themes – dark and light. The dark one appears more dramatic on the AMOLED display, thanks to an increase in contrast and blacker blacks than those on an ordinary LCD screen. And if you’re worried about battery life, bear in mind that the dark theme sucks up less energy than its light counterpart. That larger screen uses more energy, so we were pleasantly surprised to find that a single charge would take you into a second day.

Snap happy?

One component that does vary between Windows Phone handsets is the snapper. An eight-megapixel offering is on the table from the HTC Mozart, for instance. You won’t find one on the Omnia 7, but its five-megapixel snapper does a pretty decent job, and it handles HD video recording well too.

Samsung has not fiddled about with the OS too much – while HTC has added its own stamp with its two-tile hub, Samsung has stopped short – just adding a pair of special apps – Photo Sharing and a weather and news app named Now. Neither of which are hugely outstanding. But then as the Windows marketplace is getting bigger by the day, it’s not a major worry.

The verdict

The fabulous display and build quality of the device is what really makes the Omnia 7 stand out from the crowd. Windows Phone 7 has proved itself to be a popular operating system, and with that and the excellent hardware made by Samsung, the Omnia 7 is a very attractive, powerful and smart device, all encased in a good-looking metal case.

Pros:
Solidly built, stylish design; fantastic screen.
Cons:
Lacking in a choice of special apps.
Rating:
  • Look and Feel 5 Stars
  • Ease of use 4 Stars
  • Features 4 Stars
  • Performance 4 Stars
  • Battery life 4 Stars

Final verdict: 4 Stars

Review by Mobile Choice