The new sample we're looking at is still a pre-release unit but we guess it won't be much different from the retail version. Shape, size and weight haven't changed and no, the Samsung i8910 Omnia HD is not the most compact phone around. At 12.9mm, it can almost be called slim but its weight of 144g is respectable, to say the least.
There have been some changes in the Omnia HD looks since we first saw it a couple of months ago. Some minor adjustments on the front are notable, which don't really affect the handling of the phone. The rear has changed more dramatically and we're not sure we quite like it that way. The now hot-swappable microSD card slot and the enabled haptic feedback for the screen are of course more than welcome.
Beside some minor stuff, the front panel of Samsung i8910 is the same as we know it from day one. Most of it is taken by Omnia HD's key feature - the 3.7" 16M-color AMOLED touchscreen enclosed in a glossy metallic frame. The handset uses the capacitive touchscreen technology as opposed to the resistive screen of the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic - the first S60 5th edition handset.
The only difference here is the Samsung logo has moved from beneath the screen to the top.
The capacitive technology used 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 anything… Still, there are some capacitive screen styluses ot there that are said to do the job, but we haven't tried them ourselves.
Handwriting recognition is supported though - the screen is large enough to allow writing with your finger. Of course, you can go for the other two input options too - the onscreen numpad or the virtual QWERTY keyboard.
The display of Samsung i8910 offers amazing picture quality. The resolution of 360 x 640 pixels (same as Nokia 5800 XpressMusic and Nokia N97) is not exactly top of the line but the AMOLED technology does make a difference. The contrast and colors are really impressive making every image look really sharp.
The bad news about the display of Samsung i8910 is that its legibility drops dramatically under direct sunlight. Now that we have a more recent reference, the Omnia HD screen is a cut above the LG KM900 Arena and LG GC900 Viewty Smart in terms of sunlight legibility, but still remains inferior to the iPhone for example.
The Samsung i8910 Omnia HD display offers haptic feedback, which makes the touchscreen a passable replacement of a hardware keypad.
The other noteworthy elements at the face of the Samsung i8910 are the video-call camera and the proximity sensor at the top, plus the three hardware 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.
The Omnia HD has hardware Call and End keys plus a menu key, much like the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic. They are made of plastic (just like the silvery frame around the display). The keys look almost the same as on the very first unit we had but this time feel better and offer a more solid press. The End key doubles as a power button.
On the left side we find the volume rocker, which is adequately sized and quite easy to work with. Next to it is the microSD card slot, which is one of the most important changes. On the very first Omnia HD unit we had the memory card was only accessible after removing the battery. Thanks to the externally accessible slot, hot-swap is now enabled and the handset is all set in terms of storage - 8/16 GB inbuilt, topped with a hot-swappable expansion slot.
Omnia HD is said to support microSD cards of up to 16GB, and this was as far as went testing it. The handset handled a full 16GB microSD card problem-free. We were pleased with the reading/writing speed and the initialization of a full microSD card was very fast.