Samsung I8350 Omnia W review: By the playbook

GSMArena team, 15 December 2011.
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When Windows Phone launched a year ago, we were excited to first see it on the Super AMOLED screen of the Samsung Omnia 7. Twelve months or so later, Samsung are sort of in power-saving mode in the joint venture with Microsoft. Their Omnia W isnít drawing all attention to itself by blowing the numbers out of proportion.

The Omnia W has shed weight and lost some of its predecessorís screen estate. What you get in return is an upgraded processor and double the data speeds. The display technology, camera sensor and the general feel haven't changed much.

Samsung Omnia W official pictures

Well, yes, some would call it a half-hearted effort. Or maybe, Samsung are simply waiting for the dust to settle from Nokiaís grand entry into Windows Phone. Obviously, they didnít want Ė or need Ė a European flagship along the lines of their US-based Focus S with AT&T. With a single Windows-phone handset on the Old Continent, it mayíve made sense to focus on the midrange instead of making another flagship without a fleet. Bottom line, as long as we remember that itís not an upgrade of the original Omnia 7, the Omnia W is an easy phone to live with, for all its strengths and shortcomings.

Key features:

  • 3.7" 16M-color capacitive Super AMOLED touchscreen of WVGA resolution (480 x 800 pixels)
  • Gorilla Glass
  • Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE support
  • Dual-band 3G with HSDPA 14.4 Mbps and HSUPA 5.76Mbps
  • Windows Phone 7.5 Mango
  • 1.4GHzQualcomm MSM8255Snapdragon CPU, Adreno 205 GPU, 512MB of RAM
  • 5 megapixel autofocus camera with LED flash
  • 720p video recording @30fps
  • 8GB of built-in storage
  • Standard 3.5mm audio jack
  • Standard microUSB port (charging)
  • Wi-Fi b/g/n
  • Stereo Bluetooth 2.1
  • Mobile Office document viewer/editor
  • Social network integration and cloud services
  • Built-in GPS receiver, A-GPS
  • Stereo FM Radio with RDS
  • Comes with a Video call app and other custom Samsung apps

Main disadvantages:

  • Non-expandable storage
  • No mass storage
  • Zune-only file management and sync
  • No Bluetooth file transfers
  • No Flash (nor Silverlight) support in the browser
  • No DivX/XviD video support (automatic transcoding provided by Zune software)

The Omnia W should ring a bell to those of you who keep an eye on the US phone market. We recently reviewed the Samsung Focus Flash, which is virtually the same package, exclusive to AT&T. We liked the well-built, properly powered and reasonably priced Focus Flash and we guess the Omnia W can count on a warm welcome too by users who donít want to spend over the odds on a decent smartphone.

People who are willing to consider Windows Phone should be well familiar by now with the platformís limitations. The Omnia W shares the same disadvantages as its main competitors but tries to at least partially make up for them with premium build and some custom additions to whatís otherwise a standard package.

Samsung Omnia W I8350 Samsung Omnia W I8350
Samsung Omnia W official shots

Some may be quick to slam the Samsung Omnia W over its seeming lack of innovation. Thereís little really to set it apart from the year-old Omnia 7. The smaller display looks puzzling perhaps against Androidís march towards bigger and bigger screens Ė for which Samsung are in no small part responsible.

We'll say it again though - the Omnia W is not for upgraders to consider. Itís called upon to carve a new niche for Samsung in the midrange. How successful it will be depends on the competition too. For the time being, itís the HTC Radar and the Nokia Lumia 800 that the Omnia W will have to face. The midrange is a relatively new territory for Windows Phone and itís getting busier as we speak.

Stay with us as we try to find out if the Omnia W has what it takes to make it.

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