Samsung I8350 Omnia W review: By the playbook
Windows Phone Mango behind the wheel
The Samsung Omnia W runs Windows Phone Mango - the proverbial puberty of an OS that feels more mature now but not quite there yet.
Here's a user interface demonstration on the Samsung Omnia W.
Pushing the unlock button reveals the lock screen, which displays the current time and date and shows calendar events, emails and missed calls. The background of the lock screen can be changed from either the settings menu or the picture gallery.
Swiping the lockscreen up unlocks the device and reveals the live-tile Metro user interface. It's a very stylish vertical grid of Live tiles that can be rearranged as you like. You can place almost anything in the grid by selecting the Pin to start option.
Itís a clean and simple interface. The Live tiles display information such as the current date, pending calendar events, missed calls, unread emails and more, all without the need to open up any of the respective applications. The Pictures tile shows an animated slideshow of your images. The Group tile lists friend updates. You can look at them as homescreen widgets of sorts. But thatís oversimplifying them.
A swipe to the left on the main homescreen opens up the application list or main menu. It offers a virtual Search button, which makes finding apps easier for those with many apps installed. Alternatively, you can just swipe the screen up and down to find what you're looking for. Tapping and holding on any of the apps lets you pin the selected item to the homescreen.
To open up the task manager on Windows Phone you have to hold the back button. Currently the WP7 task manager is nothing more than an app switcher displaying all of your currently opened apps. Visually it looks similar to that of Symbian or WebOS: thumbnail snapshots of the apps, ordered chronologically left to right. You can swipe through them and pick whichever you're looking for. You can't directly close apps but by opening an app and then hitting the back button you'll affectively achieve just that.
There are always around 5-6 recent apps in the app switcher. Opening new ones clears out the old, so you'll practically never find yourself in a situation where you'll need to scroll through pages to find your desired app.
Much like on iOS some apps have multitasking support and other don't, meaning that if an app supports it, once reopened it will continue from where you've paused it. If it doesn't support multitasking it will restart or reset itself and start from the beginning. Many people dislike this way of doing things but the main focus of the method is improved battery life and UI performance, which seems logical on an OS that supports single core chips only.
Multitasking can be disabled from the settings to save battery. There you'll also find a list of all installed apps that support multitasking.
Opening the settings menu reveals two sets of options - system and applications. System covers all the settings you can think of like sounds, color theme, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Accounts, etc. The Applications settings enables you to configure individual settings for each app installed on the device - the People hub, Phone, Maps and more.
As you can't set wallpapers on Windows Phone the only visual setting that is configurable is the color theme of your UI. There are around 7 preloaded colors and two themes - dark and light. Some manufacturers have created their own theme, like the HTC green for example. We advise to keep the theme dark as it does provide better battery life due to the fact that Super AMOLED's don't require battery juice to display blacks.
Windows Phone can be controlled through voice only - you can dictate a text, have the phone read out the reply, you can initiate searches and so on. Other OSes are doing it too (*cough*Android*cough*) but voice commands via Siri is a big bragging right of iOS (and a loudly touted one at that), so WP7.5 can brag about them too.