Samsung Focus Flash review: Flashing around

GSMArena team, 13 November 2011.
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Windows Phone 7.5 Mango has hit the market with much fanfare and a slew of new devices. The Samsung Focus Flash for AT&T is part of the aforementioned group. The American sibling of the Samsung Omnia W, together with its upscale partner, the Focus S has the difficult task of swaying people away from the established players, which Android and iOS devices are, by packing solid hardware, spanking new OS, and a budget price tag.

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Samsung Focus Flash official photos

After a quick look at the phone’s metal clad, all black body, and Super AMOLED screen however, the term “budget” gets quickly pushed to the back of your mind. One might even argue, that the Focus Flash look more upscale than its bigger brother – the Focus S.

On the inside, the two Windows Phone siblings from Samsung have a lot in common. Both devices are featuring a 1.4GHz Scorpion CPU, and a Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset. This can be attributed to the stringent hardware requirements which Microsoft has toward the devices, running its mobile OS. In short – it is difficult to divide the Windows Phone handsets into budget and high-end. The Samsung Focus Flash surely doesn’t mind this.

Key Features

  • 3.7" 16M-color Super AMOLED screen with WVGA resolution (480 x 800 pixels)
  • Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE support
  • 3G with HSDPA (14.4 Mbps) and HSUPA (5.76Mbps)
  • Windows Phone 7.5 operating system
  • Ability to uninstall wireless provider’s proprietary apps out of the box
  • 1.4 GHz Scorpion CPU, 512MB RAM, Snapdragon chipset
  • 5 megapixel autofocus camera with LED flash and geo-tagging; 1.3MP front unit
  • 720p video recording
  • A number of Samsung proprietary apps, including a capable photo editor
  • Bing Maps with free navigation
  • 8GB of built-in storage
  • Standard 3.5mm audio jack
  • Standard microUSB port (charging)
  • Wi-Fi b/g/n; DLNA support; Wi-Fi hotspot capable
  • Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP
  • Accelerometer for screen auto rotation
  • Landscape on-screen QWERTY keyboard
  • FM radio with RDS
  • Office document editor
  • Built-in A-GPS receiver
  • Voice-to-text functionality

Main disadvantages

  • No system-wide file manager
  • Only 5.5GB of built-in memory available to the user and no option to expand it
  • No Bluetooth file transfers
  • No USB mass storage mode
  • Limited third-party apps availability
  • No Flash (nor Silverlight) support in the browser
  • Too dependent on Zune software for file management and syncing
  • No DivX/XviD video support (automatic transcoding provided by Zune software, but lowers quality)

While Windows Phone 7 was clearly a work in progress when released, the latest Mango update has firmly put the OS on the path of credibility. App support is still quite limited, but Microsoft is working really hard in this direction by courting the top developers from the other OS ecosystems. All in all, given the financial power of the Redmond based software giant, we can reasonably expect the gap between Windows Phone and the top dogs to grow narrower as time progresses.

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Samsung Focus Flash in our office

The Samsung Focus Flash has the luxury of packing a fairly upmarket hardware (for a Windows Phone device), while being priced like an entry-level smartphone. Is it going to make it in a world of free iPhone and Android devices? This is what we are going to try and answer with this review. As always, we’ll kick things off with unboxing and a hardware inspection.

Editorial: You might notice that this review is shorter than usual and doesn't include all of our proprietary tests. The reason is it has been prepared and written far away from our office and test lab. The Samsung Focus Flash is a US-only phone, so it will probably never get to the shores of the Old Continent. Still, we think we've captured the essence of the phone in the same precise, informative and detailed way that's become our trademark. Enjoy the good read!

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