Samsung i8910 Omnia HD preview: First look

GSMArena team, 16 February 2009.
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Samsung i8910 Omnia HD 360-degree spin

The Samsung i8910 Omnia HD is hardly the most compact phone around. In fact the first impression it leaves is of an abnormally wide handset. At 12.9mm, it can almost be called slim but it's nowhere near light. If that's the price to pay for the kind of functionality, we guess most people would, no questions asked. As for the rest - the Omnia HD isn't a Samsung U100 but it's no Nokia E90 either. Still fairly pocketable, we guess.

Design and construction

Designing a fully touch-operated mobile phone certainly doesn't leave too much freedom and all of them look more or less identical. The Samsung i8910 Omnia HD doesn't depart from the standard looks, the metallic frame around the display obviously an attempt to give it a face of its own. We do like the fact the battery cover is entirely metallic but the glossy plastic around the display looks rather cheap.

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The design has its ups and downs

Most of the front panel of Omnia HD is taken by its key feature - the 3.7" 16M-color OLED touchscreen. The state-of-the-art unit uses the capacitive touchscreen technology as opposed to the resistive one of Nokia 5800 XpressMusic - the first S60 5th edition handset. The lightest touch will do for a command to be registered - no pressure is necessary.

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The highlight of the device - 3.7" widescreen OLED display

The capacitive technology used for the display guarantees the excellent responsiveness of the screen at the expense of making it unable to work with anything else but your fingers (no stylus, no plectrum, no gloves, no anything…). It seems quite a fair trade to us and probably to most other people that don't need handwriting recognition.

The display of Samsung i8910 offers amazing picture quality. The resolution of 640 x 360 pixels (same as Nokia 5800 XpressMusic) is not exactly top of the line but the OLED technology does make a difference. The contrast and colors are really impressive making every image look really vibrant.

The bad part about the display of Samsung i8910 is that its legibility drops dramatically when exposed to direct sunlight. It might not be as bad as the Samsung i900 Omnia for example but finding a proper angle to work with it is quite a problem.

The Samsung i8910 Omnia HD display doesn't give any haptic feedback but that might just be the case with our pre-release unit. We'll check that out when we get hold of a retail unit.

The other noteworthy elements at the front of the Samsung i8910 are the video-call camera and the proximity sensor at the top, plus the three keys at the bottom. The proximity sensor is used for locking the display during calls to avoid accidental presses when holding the phone next to you cheek.

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There are a couple of sensors and a video-call camera at the top

The Omnia HD has hardware Call and End keys plus a menu key, much like the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic. They look cheap and feel somewhat more wobbly than the price tag might suggest. Of course parts of the design are still subject to change.

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The three keys at the bottom are large enough but don't feel too well built

On the left side we find the volume rocker which is adequately sized and quite easy to work with.

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The volume rocker is on the left

The right side of the Samsung i8910 hosts the hold key (to lock/unlock the touchscreen), the camera key and the microUSB slot.

It's a welcome benefit that the phone charges off the microUSB port unlike the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic. This means that you can transfer data and charge your battery at the same time.

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A couple of keys and a USB slot are to be found on the right

At the top of the i8910 we find a loudspeaker and the 3.5mm standard audio jack. Much like the USB slot it is hidden under a small lid to keep dust away.

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One of the loudspeaker grills is located right next to the 3.5mm audio jack

A second loudspeaker is located at the bottom, along with the microphone pinhole. This layout seems a respectful nod to the Omnia HD exceptional video skill, around which everything seems to revolve. We guess a desk stand will be an essential and widely appreciated accessory.

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Loudspeakers are perfectly placed for watching videos in landscape mode

The back side of Samsung i8910 is our favorite part of the handset. The metal used for the battery cover is much more resistant to fingerprints and smudges than the glossy plastic used elsewhere.

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The backside of Samsung i8910 Omnia HD sure looks nice

Along with a bunch of logos, the back side of the Omnia HD also hosts the 8 megapixel camera lens and the LED flash. With video recording so high on the agenda, it's quite understandable why they went for the LED technology instead of xenon. It still is inadequate for low light photos (or video for that matter) at distances over a meter so don't count too much on it.

The battery located under the cover is the same as the one in Samsung i8510 INNOV8 - a 1200 mAh unit. However now that Omnia HD is officially announced, it turned out that the retail product will have a 1500 mAh battery - nice one!

The new 1500 mAh battery should provide better cover for the power hog of a screen

Next to the battery we find the memory card slot. No hot-swap is somewhat of a letdown but maybe they thought they'd get away given the abundant onboard storage. That way or another, it is hard to imagine it was so hard to make it hot-swappable.

The general build quality of Samsung i8910 Omnia HD is a mixed bag. The metal battery cover and the huge OLED display are true high end stuff but the plastic bits are below par. Anyway, the Omnia HD is just too big to misjudge really and there's no doubt the multimedia prowess is the main course here.

We find the i8910 size acceptable. However, we do note that some people are sure to find it too big and uncomfortable to operate single-handedly (unless you've got an extra long thumb). The superbly massive display has its downsides.

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The Samsung i8910 Omnia HD is at the borderline of comfortable handling

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