Samsung i900 Omnia review: The whole nine yards

GSMArena team, 25 July 2008.
Pages: 12345678

Unboxing the Samsung i900 Omnia

Samsung i900 Omnia comes in nicely looking medium-sized package. Its contents cover all the basics. A DC charger, a CD with the required software for PC synchronization and a bunch of manuals go without saying.

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Samsung i900 Omnia unboxed

The stylus dongle is also included and it's almost identical to the LG Viewty's in design. And much like with the Viewty, it's meant to dangle on its string tied to the lanyard eyelet. This isn't handy at all, so our guess is most Omnia users will give it up in the end.

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The stylus has nice design, but no compartment of its own

There is also a handsfree, which consists of two parts - a remote and a set of headphones. The remote sports a standard 3.5mm jack, which means that you can change the provided headset with any other set you have at hand. Finally, there is a number of ear buds of varying sizes for a comfortable fit of the nicely designed headphones.

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Nice job of a headset

Samsung i900 Omnia 360-degree spin

Standing at 112 x 56.9 x 12.5 mm, Samsung i900 Omnia is on the hefty side. This is of course mainly in terms of width and height, as the 12.5 mm thickness does sound great to us. In all fairness, it cannot compare to the compact HTC Touch Diamond but the Omnia is still easily pocketable. The weight of 127 grams isn't much of a feat for a no-keypad device but we guess it's the price to pay for all the top-notch features on board.

Design and construction

Designwise, the Samsung i900 Omnia doesn't differ that much from most other touchscreen handsets. In fact, there isn't much room for designer creativity in this class of devices, so the Omnia is understandably similar to its market rivals.

On the positive side, we do like the finish of the rear, which might not be as unique as the HTC Touch Diamond but looks really classy.

At the top of the front panel of the Samsung i900 Omnia we find the earpiece, the ambient light sensor and the secondary video-call camera. Almost all the rest is the 3.2" touchscreen, which we'll come back to a little later in our review.

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The earpiece, the ambient light sensor and the secondary camera are at the top

At the very bottom of the front are the Call and End keys, with the optical joystick amidst. The optical joystick is a nice little control, which is used for thumbing around a virtual mouse cursor in a way identical to Samsung i780.

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The remaining keys on the front panel

The left side of Samsung i900 Omnia sports the lanyard eyelet and the Samsung proprietary USB port. Frankly, we would have preferred the miniUSB variety. Boy, even microUSB could've done better, giving the Omnia much greater compatibility. After all, miniUSB cables are extremely popular and microUSB is also quickly catching up.

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The lanyard eyelet and the USBslot are on the left

On the right side of the Omnia we come upon the volume rocker and the dedicated camera key. They are both positioned in the lower half of the handset and are large and comfortable enough to use.

Near the top of the right side we find the knob that launches the thumb-optimized Main menu.

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Three controls are to be found on the right of the Omnia

All there is at the bottom of Samsung i900 Omnia is the mouthpiece.

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The mouthpiece is the only thing of interest at the bottom

The top hosts the power key and the reset hole. The kinda small and recessed power key did get on our nerves every once in a while.

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The power key and the reset key hole are on top

The Samsung i900 Omnia rear hosts the 5 megapixel camera lens and the LED flash that's supposed to boost performance in the dark. There is a preinstalled application that lets you use the flash as a torch.

Update: The back panel of the Omnia is all plastic despite looking as if it has a brushed metal finish. You can't really tell that just by looking at it, but once you touch it, it feels like plain plastic alright. Nevertheless, we are really fond of this design solution - it certainly adds to the Omnia looks.

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The 5 megapixel camera is at the back, complimented by the LED flash

Removing the back panel reveals the 1440-mAh Li-ion battery that powers the Omnia. The generous capacity, combined with the good power-management capabilities of the Marvel CPU, give the Omnia great battery life. The manufacturer quotes it at up to 500h of standby time and up to almost 6h in talk time.

Under our care and some moderate usage the Omnia lasted 60 hours with a single charge. The moderate usage in question is something like a total of 20 minutes of talk time, 1 hour of in-car GPS navigation, 1 hour of web browsing via Wi-Fi or 3G, and taking around 40 camera photos. The GPS receiver is a real battery drainer, so if you don't use it the device should last even longer. And we won't be surprised, if it lasts a week under really low usage.

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The battery is quite a performer

The other thing we found under the battery cover is the memory card slot. Hot swap was nowhere in sight as you have to remove the battery to access it. After all with 8 (up to 16) GB of onboard storage, the main purpose of the card slot is to serve as an extra connectivity option. Still, no hot swap is a loss we just can't get over.

As a whole, we are really pleased with the construction quality of the Samsung i900 Omnia. It looks sturdy and feels nice in hand, the hefty size aside. We heard no creaks or other disturbing sounds for the time of our review and we also didn't notice any signs of wear and tear although we used it rather heavily.

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Samsung i900 Omnia held in hand

Controversial Wide QVGA Display

Samsung i900 Omnia is equipped with a large 3.2" 65K-color display with a resolution of 240 x 400 pixels. As with most PocketPCs, picture quality isn't really impressive. Not that it is too bad either but we've seen Samsung do much better on their feature phones.

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The 3.2" 65K color display of the Omnia leaves us with mixed feelings

The display resolution can also be considered somewhat of a problem at times. Wide QVGA might be great for watching widescreen movies, web browsing and viewing photos but it does bring up some compatibility issues. For example, we had quite a hard time starting the iGO 2008 navigation software on the Omnia. We guess similar issues will arise with other applications too.

In terms of sunlight legibility, Samsung i900 Omnia is also far from its prime. It's really hard to see anything on the display outdoors on a sunny day, and finding a proper angle for working with the phone is near impossible. This has a particularly negative effect on photography, as you can hardly see the viewfinder at times.

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