I attended a Samsung Innovator event (2/11/09) that was promoting their application store and the new Omnia II. The idea was that those developers who attended would receive an Omnia II on condition that said developers supplied a Windows Mobile app on the app store by 10th December. I am representing a US company called ViaFo who have a WinMob app that they can put on the Omnia so I dutifully went along to pick up the handset for them. Samsung are only supporting a few handsets, mainly Symbian and WinMob devices, with their on device client for the store so it is very early days for them. Obviously the champagne reception at Samsung’s box at Chelsea had no bearing on my decision to attend!
In the past I have been a Nokia man (S60) and am now an avid iPhone owner (although I do carry at least 4 phones around in my bag, at any particular time, of varying flavours). I am not a WinMob user although I do have a HTC Diamond II for demo purposes. As far as I can tell WinMob 6.1 is a dog but have been pleasantly surprised by the 6.5 update. The Omnia is running 6.5, I have checked.
I like this phone. The OLED screen is great, it makes the iPhone screen look grainy. The colours and blacks are just awesome. Samsungs TouchWiz UI is so integrated to the phone that I have not come across a native WinMob screen in the week that I have been using it – this is a good thing. TouchWiz widget structure is good, you can see this down the side of the panes using a drawer mechanism. You can drag the widgets you want from the draw and let it live on the pane etc.
There are some nice touches like the Bluetooth/WiFi configuration apps. This is in the form of a radar like display with the handset in the middle, devices are shown at distances away via a number of concentric circles on the screen. If you want to connect you drag the device onto the phone icon in the middle (see the video). This is a nice way of doing things but does not add anything other than a graphical representation of doing things (I like it anyway).
Unfortunately the screen is resistive touch. Samsung has done a very good job of adding inertia to lists in a very iPhone like manner and it works pretty well. It is one of the best resistive touchscreens I have used. However it still has its challenges. When the screen has softkeys showing at the bottom of the screen they are very hard to make contact with, a hard push with a nail is required. The unlock function when the screen goes to sleep is another awkward touchscreen operation. It seems that the closer you get to the edge of the screen the more effort you need to actually make contact.
UI – This implementation of TouchWiz is great, I like the concepts, I like the way that Samsung has tried to get away from the norm with some of the more mundane operations. BUT why have TouchWiz with panes, app view with panes and the ‘Cube’. I could handle two of these types of UI together but why mix the three? The ‘Cube’ in my opinion is the weakest and looks like someone trying to add the wow factor and failing.
I challenge anyone that likes a resistive screen to use an iPhone for a month and then go back to resistive. Its like watching DVD’s and then going back to VHS. How many of you are using resistive trackpads on your laptops? None, there is a reason for that….
The video capabilities are very good in playback mode. I have not really had a chance to play with the camera or the video recording capabilities of the device but at first glance all the functions that you would expect are there from a 5 megapixel camera.
[youtube id=”SAVKjJ6oq64″ w=”560″ h=”340″]
The Omnia II is a good phone (I did not ever think I would say that about a WinMob handset). I have not looked at this handset from its specification perspective but from its ease of use and usability. WinMob 6.5 is a step forward and TouchWiz on top gives this handset a fighting chance. The experience is better than any Nokia touch device I have used so far.
Love: OLED screen, TouchWiz, video playback, widgets
Hate: Resistive touchscreen, the ‘Cube’, too many UI styles