Tuesday 11 October 2011

Review: Samsung Omnia W i8350.

The latest edition of Windows Phone OS (codenamed 'Mango') is here, and the Samsung Omnia W i8350 has it. India is one of the first markets to get the Omnia W, highlighting Samsung's commitment to our subcontinent. The phone itself is quite unassuming when switched off — just plain black, all-business and mostly plastic (except for the back cover, which is brushed metal). You can tell it's a Windows phone because of the Microsoft logo on the start/home button and a prominent Windows Phone logo at the back. There are two capacitive buttons flanking the home button, a power button on the side (like Samsung's Galaxy range), a camera shutter, volume rocker, micro USB port and 3.5mm audio out. At the back is a 5MP camera with LED flash while a VGA camera up front for video calls.

The phone has a 3.7-inch super amoled display – a size that gives you a good amount of screen real estate without making the phone itself too large. The screen offers fantastic colours, contrast and brightness and will easily outclass most other smartphone screens.

Samsung has included some apps to get you started — FunShot and Photo Studio for camera effects, Daily Briefing for news and weather updates and AllShare for DLNA multimedia sharing. Thanks to the 1.4Ghz processor and 512MB RAM, you will not experience any slowdowns. There were no complaints with call quality, camera, audio quality or video playback.

The home screen is a system of live tiles which can be customised to your taste. You can change the colour of the tiles or the background, add more tiles or rearrange them. The tiles get updated with new information as it arrives, so when you get new email or messages, the corresponding tile will highlight it. Throughout the interface, you can scroll down or to the side to see more information – a style reminiscent of the Zune media player. Windows Phone 7.5 brings several improvements to the table.

For starters, it has pretty efficient multitasking – quite like RIM offers on the BlackBerry Playbook. Running applications can be viewed as 'cards' – just hold the back button to bring up the apps, and you can switch between them easily.

It also offers native integration with Facebook & Twitter, Office 365 (cloud-based Office document support), voice commands plus direct uploads to your SkyDrive account (25GB of free online space). Some quirks though — multimedia has to be transferred using the Zune software (much like iPhones and iPods restrict you to iTunes).

The Windows Marketplace has some catching up to — reports suggest that there are about 30,000 apps — but it's a long way to go before the sheer numbers of Android or the quality of iOS can be achieved.

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