Samsung I8700 Omnia 7 review: A whole new galaxy

GSMArena team, 11 October 2010.
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Introduction

Though it might seem like a chicken-and-egg situation, the question in our case never was which one came first: Windows Phone 7 or the Samsung I8700 Omnia 7. We know you’re all adding two and two together. Our Windows Phone 7 review was based on this Samsung Omnia 7 here. You can’t blame the OS for taking unfair advantage but you can’t deny the fact either that a Super AMOLED screen can make anything look good.

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Samsung I8700 Omnia 7 official photos

Not that we’re saying that Windows Phone 7 is just anything. And of course, it just can’t and won’t be anything you want it to be. But that’s not the whole story. Let’s just say Microsoft are in charge of the numerology and leaving it to manufacturers to do the math.

And it’s simple but expensive math. WVGA screens, 1 GHz processors and dedicated GPUs are the minimum requirements for any set to run the brand new OS. Let’s just repeat that – those are the MINIMUM requirements.

No wonder then, the Samsung I8700 Omnia 7 has no choice but to be the Galaxy S of the new Windows phones. It has the same 4 inches of a gorgeous Super AMOLED screen, a 1GHz Snapdragon powerplant and it captures 5 megapixel photos and records HD videos. If there was one thing to hold against the I9000 Galaxy S it had to be the plastic finish. But Samsung listened to their customers and gave the Omnia 7 the same get-up as the first Bada phone.

So, the Omnia 7 seems to have it all to make a grand entrance – premium build, powerful hardware and a brand new OS are all thrown into the mix. We can hardly think of any weak spots on the chassis.

Key features

  • Quad-band GSM and tri-band 3G support
  • 7.2 Mbps HSDPA and 5.76 Mbps HSUPA support
  • 4" 16M-color Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen of WVGA (480 x 800 pixel) resolution, multi-touch input, scratch-resistant glass surface
  • Windows Phone 7 OS
  • 1GHz Snapdragon QSD8250 CPU
  • 5 MP autofocus camera with face, smile and blink detection, geotagging, LED flash
  • 720p HD video recording at 25fps
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b, g and n support
  • GPS with A-GPS connectivity; digital compass
  • 8/16GB internal storage
  • Accelerometer, ambient light and proximity sensor
  • Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
  • microUSB port (charging)
  • Bluetooth v2.1
  • FM radio with RDS
  • 1500 mAh Li-Ion battery
  • Good audio quality
  • Microsoft Office Suite for Mobile
  • Zune integration with wireless syncing
  • Excellent cloud services integration (SkyDrive, Windows Live, Xbox Live)

Main hardware disadvantages

  • No stereo speakers
  • No lens protection
  • No memory card slot

WP7-specific limitations

  • No system-wide file manager
  • 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 video calls
  • New ringtones available only through the Marketplace (fixed in Mango)
  • Music player lacks equalizer presets
  • No multitasking (fixed in Mango)
  • No copy/paste (fixed in NoDo)
  • No DivX/XviD video support (automatic transcoding provided by Zune software)
  • No sign of free Bing maps Navigation so far (fixed in Mango)
  • No internet tethering support (fixed in Mango)
  • No handwriting recognition support

It’s no big secret Microsoft wants to sell Windows Phone 7 big time. The easiest route to success is to set out the blueprint and leave the rest to the manufacturers. It might even seem life in Redmond is easy and the makers are meeting a real challenge. To develop a phone that not only meets Microsoft’s strict requirements as a high-performance carrying vessel for the new OS, but one that also has its own spirit and identity. Samsung seem quite up to the task so far.

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Samsung I8700 Omnia 7 at ours

If you’re eyeing Microsoft's latest and greatest as a possible purchase, you’ll surely go through the pros and cons of the Omnia 7 carefully. Samsung is guilty of committing only a couple of them, while the rest are all Microsoft’s fault. But in the end, they will all be held against the phone in equal measure.

As many of our readers have already commented under our Windows Phone 7 OS review, the new OS is quite similar to Apple’s iOS in its strange limitations – stuff such as lack of a USB mass storage mode or no copy/paste, or even the lack of a memory card support – those are all quite inexplicable to the regular user.

Microsoft went the same way with the synchronization – you’ll need the latest Zune software (minimum ver. 4.7) and that’s the only way to access your phone – photos, music, videos and applications – all goes through Zune. Sounds familiar, right?

Still the Windows Phone 7 is designed as a premium OS and Microsoft has obviously managed to convince most major manufacturers to accept the strict hardware requirements. And despite the silly-looking limitations, it looks they may be all on to something great.

But let’s not waste any more time in introductions and go straight to the Omnia 7 hardware basics – right after the jump.

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