Samsung I8000 Omnia II review: A surprising experience
A really decent camera
The Samsung i8000 Omnia II is capable of taking 5 megapixel photos with a maximum image resolution of 2560 x 1920 pixels. There is a dual LED flash to assist with low-light pictures and videos but as always with such units you shouldn't set your hopes too high.
The i8000 camera viewfinder is familiar to us from the Omnia HD, Beat DJ, 8300 UltraTouch etc. The comfortable interface is nicely touch-optimized and has all you need in the two vertical taskbars on each side of the viewfinder.
There are a vast amount of configurable options here - ISO, white balance, default storage, stabilizer, etc. You can see the presence of WDR, which continues to makes its way into many recent Samsung cameraphones. You can switch the default storage between the main memory, the built-in 8 gig flash and the microSD card.
The geo-tagging support on the Omnia II allows you to record you current location in the EXIF of your images.
The image quality is also pretty decent with a nice amount of resolved detail and the noise levels kept well under control. There are also no traces of image-processing algorithm issues - no oversharpening or too-aggressive noise reduction and that has resulted in some nicely balanced images with no major flaws. The only thing we are not particularly happy about is the contrast which is slightly lower than we would have liked. Of course the Omnia II cannot compare to the best cameraphones on the market but as far as processing goes, it's getting pretty close.
We also snapped our resolution chart with the Samsung I8000 Omnia II. You can check out what that test is all about here.
D1 video recording
As far as video recording is concerned, the Omnia II can offer D1 resolution (720 x 480 pixels) at 30fps. There is also support for 120 fps slow-motion videos in QVGA resolution.
The camcorder interface is identical to the one of the still camera, except for the fact that some options have been disabled. Unluckily one of them is the anti-shake which would have been really useful here.
Unfortunately, the videos are not as nice as we expected. Though contrast and color saturation are quite good, the videos suffer from some excessive compression.
Still D1 resolution video recording is quite rare in WinMo devices so we're willing to let that one go without serious grudges.
Here is a sample video for you to check out.
When it comes to connectivity the Samsung I8000 Omnia II is as well geared as a handset can be - HSDPA 7.2Mbps, HSUPA 5.76Mbps, Wi-Fi, stereo Bluetooth.
The network connectivity of the touchscreen handset relies on quad-band GSM support and tri-band 3G (900/1900/2100 MHz). In case you are wondering if the 3rd generation network in your country is covered you can check out our Worldwide Network Bands distribution database.
USB 2.0 also comes is supported as well through a miniUSB adaptor. When connected to a computer, the Omnia II automatically connects in either ActiveSync or Mass Storage mode - whatever you preset in the Settings menu. Unfortunately, there's not an option to be prompted every time you connect the handset as HTC handsets do it.
The Omnia II offers the card slot which provided that you have a microSD card and a card ready at hand will certainly give you the fastest data transfer rates. Unfortunately, you have to remove the back cover to access that.
And finally, you also get a standard 3.5mm audio jack. The jack also doubles as TV-out port and when you plug in any peripheral in the jack you get automatically prompted whether you're plugging a headphone, a headset, or a TV-out cable. However, we don't think that Samsung will be supplying a TV-out cable along with the phone. You probably would have to buy that separately.
Web browsing: Internet Explorer revamped
The Samsung I8000 Omnia II comes with a couple of excellent browsers preinstalled to make best use of its rich connectivity. You get the new version of Internet Explorer Mobile with the WinMo 6.5 update, plus the Opera Mobile v9.5 which is also preinstalled. The IE Mobile this time actually good for something unlike its long outdated predecessor.
Opera Mobile v9.5
If you have been keeping track you would know that the Opera browser is extensively touch-optimized and draws inspiration from the iPhone's Safari. The browser has matured since its first reincarnations and now exhibits no rendering bugs.
Opera Mobile v9.5 is heavily optimized towards vertical scrolling you can scroll through complex pages without missing a beat. Panning sideways is a little slower - a checkerboard pattern appears for a moment before the content is drawn, but this lasts for only a moment so it's no big issue.
Zooming in and out is also very fast. You can use the one-finger zooming pattern that we described in the gallery and it works like a charm much like it did on the original Omnia. Double tapping is also very accurate as it zooms in to where you tapped, eliminating the need for much panning.
The WVGA resolution of the ample display helps navigation a great deal - at the minimum zoom level text is readable enough for you to find the section of the text you're interested in and double tapping takes you straight there.
In landscape mode, the minimum zoom fits most pages, which is extremely convenient as it give you a nice overview of the site, while the fine text still remains readable.
The browser orientation is changed automatically of course, thanks to the built-in accelerometer.
There's also Flash support including Flash video. There were some issues with YouTube on our first unit but the more finalized version we received later on handles regular YouTube videos just fine.
Internet Explorer Mobile
Now this is the really interesting part - the new version of the Internet Explorer Mobile web browser has received a nicer touch-optimized interface and a way cooler design. It shares most of the treats of the Opera Mobile, including kinetic scrolling and Flash support.
There are five available setting for the text size and there is a mobile view mode. Still with the high-res screen we are far more comfortable using the desktop mode as web pages look much more natural that way.
Zooming though is best done with the double tapping on the IE. It works like a charm on the retail unit, unlike what we had on the pre-release one and is certainly more comfortable than the alternative.
You other option is to go through the menu or hold you finger over the screen and go through the context menu to make a slider appear. You can then use it for controlling the zoom but there is no Fit-to-screen mode.
A flaw of the IE browser is the fact that it doesn't automatically rotate the pages with the built-in accelerometer. One would think that this is the easiest thing for the developers to do but they obviously saved themselves the effort here. There isn't a setting for manually switching to landscape mode either so like it or not - portrait is all you get. We guess that and the handicapped zooming is exactly what dooms the Internet Explorer Mobile of remaining second best to the Opera Mobile even after the major overhaul it has received.