Samsung I8700 Omnia 7 review: A whole new galaxy

GSMArena team, 11 October 2010.
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Samsung I8700 Omnia 7 360-degree spin

At 122 x 64.3 x 11 mm, the Samsung I8700 Omnia 7 is a big phone, yet you wouldn’t call it a monster. About the size of the Galaxy S, the Omnia 7 is just the right bit more powerful and assertive. In a nut shell, it’s a slim and solid handset with neat economic styling.

The phone weighs in at 138 g – the same category as the iPhone 4. We guess, most of the load is attributed to the metal rear. The phone feels secure enough to handle and navigate, and looks quite durable too.

Design and construction

The I8700 Omnia 7 has much of the Samsung S8500 Wave design DNA in it. On the face of it though, it’s the most unusual of recent Samsung phones we’ve seen lately. We know it borders on blasphemy but the Omnia 7 looks more like an HTC phone than a typical Samsung set.

Losing the uniform, curvy Samsung look is in a way a good thing. It wouldn’t have made much sense for a brand new Windows Phone 7 device to be anonymous in a crowd of Corbies, Waves and Galaxies. The important thing anyway is the Omnia 7 feels and looks great. It’s elegant, solid and professional as well as being nicely resistant to fingerprints.

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The Samsung Wave next to Samsung Omnia 7

Under the display are the only three keys on the Samsung I8700 Omnia 7’s front panel. The capacitive Back and Search buttons are either side of a hardware Start key (Windows logo). The touch controls are haptic enabled, while the round Start knob is pretty much the same as the iPhone’s main control.

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The new Windows controls

Above the display are the earpiece, the proximity and the ambient light sensors. The Samsung Omnia 7 doesn’t feature a secondary video-call camera. In fact video telephony is a no-go on any Windows Phone 7 for the time being.

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The earpiece and plus a couple of sensors on its left

The left side of the Samsung I8700 Omnia 7 hosts the volume rocker which, however thin, is prominent enough and very comfortable to use. The lanyard eyelet is also here – in the top left corner.

On the right we only find the camera key and the lock button. Both are pretty tiny knobs but properly raised and tactile. The shutter key is soft and responsive, with a distinct half-press. The camera launches almost instantly when you press the key – even when the phone is locked. Thanks to the input of the proximity sensor, the camera won’t start that way when the phone is in your pocket or purse.

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The volume rocker is on the left • camera key and lock button on the right-hand side

At the top we find the microUSB port, hiding under a neat plastic lid that slides softly in and out. The uncovered 3.5mm audio jack is also there. At the bare bottom you’ll only see a mouthpiece.

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microUSB port and 3.5mm audio jack on top • mouthpiece at the bottom

The Samsung I8700 Omnia 7 rear hosts the unprotected 5-megapixel camera lens, a LED flash and the loudspeaker. The handset’s rear is almost identical to the Samsung S8500 Wave’s – the brushed aluminum finish is pleasant to the touch and quite good looking.

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The camera lens, the LED flash and the loudspeaker

The aluminum battery cover gets released by pressing a small knob at the bottom. Underneath is the 1500 mAh Li-Ion battery.

Below the battery we find the SIM compartment. Windows Phone 7 does support memory cards (in a strange and limited way), but there is no memory slot on the Omnia 7.

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The battery is surprisingly powerful for such a compact phone

If you liked the Samsung Wave, you’ll just love the Omnia 7. It’s an impressively well built, slim and solid device. It doesn’t look like just another Samsung phone either – it’s carrying a brand new OS and is eager to make a point. We have no complaints with the controls or handling. And it certainly goes without saying that Super AMOLED technology makes for a killer display.

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The Samsung I8700 Omnia 7 held in hand

Four inches of Super AMOLED

Hardly a surprise, the front of the Samsung I8700 Omnia 7 is dominated by the touchscreen: a 4” unit of WVGA resolution. The Omnia 7 is equipped with a Super AMOLED screen, which is exactly the same as the one on the Galaxy S.

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The display is just incredible – iPhone 4’s retina compared to Omnia 7 Super AMOLED

The AMOLED display technology has quite an edge over LCD in terms of contrast and that’s hardly news. Super AMOLED screens have the deepest blacks we’ve seen on a mobile phone. The remarkable color vibrancy makes the Omnia 7 display image quality all the more impressive. The viewing angles are the best in the business and outdoor visibility is top notch too.

By default Windows Phone 7 uses black and white backgrounds and text. Thanks to the Super AMOLED screen, some of those white fonts on black look almost surreal – like printed on a piece of high-quality gloss paper rather than appearing on a digital display.

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