Let us get one thing out of the way first - yes, the design of the phone is hardly revolutionary but when the front is all screen, there's very little room for variation.
Okay, now that we've dealt with the "hey, it's a (insert favorite touchscreen phone) clone!" crowd lets have a closer look, because when things are almost the same, the devil's in the details.
The Samsung I8000 Omnia II front is quite sleek with black glass framing the display, while the surface around the buttons is made of a matte material that helps keep away fingerprints.
The edge is encircled with a strip of glossy gray plastic, which is quite nice - it looks elegant and subtly emphasizes the display.
The front, much like the front of a TV set is dominated by the display. It's an AMOLED unit, 3.7 inches in size and pushes the limits of one hand usability. With a WVGA resolution of 480 x 800 pixels, it's among the highest resolution examples on the market.
The only things that stop it from being perfect are the limited number of colors - 64K - and the resistive display, both restrictions of the underlying Windows Mobile OS. That and the disappointing sunlight legibility.
Samsung are touting their I8000 Omnia II as having an Advanced R touch (Resistive Touch) display, which should give it a better response, however it seems that our unit is too early a prototype to pass judgments. We are yet to learn more about the technology and its application.
There's also no slot for a stylus. So, in the original Omnia tradition the I8000 Omnia II users will have to do with a dongle if they insist on having one along.
There are three hardware buttons on the front - call and end keys obviously and the center button. Now, the center button deserves some attention. If you take a close look at it, it is in fact a 3D cube and its backlight pulses pleasingly when active.
The cube is a button that activates the Cube launcher , which is part of the new UI. When the Cube launcher is opened, the button's backlighting is blue, but that changes to red when the battery is critically low.
The video call camera and an ambient light sensor are above the display.
On the left you get the volume rocker and on the right are the hardware Back key and the task switcher / shutter key combo. The latter is not a single button as we've seen in a number of recent Samsung handsets but a rocker-styled control where the shutter key is tangibly raised. It can be half-pressed too to handle auto-focus. All controls are easy to use in both single and two-handed use scenarios.
The top houses the power button, 3.5 mm audio jack and a microUSB port that is protected by a cover. The phone charges via the microUSB port which is quite useful as you can skip the charger when traveling if you have a computer with you. The bottom is not very interesting - only the microphone pinhole is there.
The 3.5mm audio jack is definitely a nice feature even despite the fact that there is no protective cap to hide it from dirt and grime when it's not used.
The 5 megapixel camera lens is on the back of the device along with the dual LED flash. It is not protected by a lens cover but there is a slightly raised edge surrounding it. The LED flash can also be used as a flashlight.
Both the camera and the nub are on one side making the device rock back and forth when laid on a flat surface. The lack of stereo speakers is a shame, especially given that otherwise the device is a very capable portable media player.
Under the back cover, you'll find a 1440 mAh battery like the one in the original Samsung Omnia and the SIM and microSD card slots. It seems that in the final unit showcased at the launching event today, Samsung have opted for a 1500 mAh battery used on Samsung I7500 Galaxy.
The memory slot is very near the edge so it shouldn't have been hard to make it accessible without opening the back cover, but still it's not. However, the ample internal storage does go some way to making up for that inconvenience.
The build quality is quite solid. The back cover is not held by any complicated release systems but is still quite stable and there are no audible creaks or unusual sounds. The front buttons don't wobble and have very satisfying feedback.
The Samsung I8000 weighs in at 117 grams and its rounded edges make it seem thinner than it really is. Overall, the top edges of the display may be a little hard to reach if your fingers are not very long, but the device is still reasonably pocketable and quite alright to handle.