Samsung continues to push deeper and further into every conceivable tech market, including every category of mobile phone. The next big thing to be added to its hefty mobile portfolio is the Samsung Omnia i900, a Windows Mobile smart phone that packs a cornucopia of features. But is this another Samsung touchscreen phone that fails to deliver?
The Omnia is available on several networks, including Orange and Vodafone, for free on a monthly contract. You can also buy it SIM-free at eXpansys for £480.
Samsung's dalliances with touchscreen phones have been hit and miss, but the Omnia looks every part the high-end touchscreen phone you want it to be. A black and silver colour scheme gives it a serious look that echoes the iPhone's casing. What it doesn't have, unfortunately, is the iPhone's quality feel.
The Samsung Omnia feels a little on the light side and that's due to its plastic casing. In our opinion, it's inspiring to hold than the glass and plastic combo on the iPhone 3G or, better still, the glass and metal combo of the original iPhone. The Omnia's plastic screen in particular lacks the quality feel of the iPhone's glass one.
Casing materials aside, the Omnia is just about the right size. It's slim enough to put in a pocket comfortably, but the screen is large enough to enjoy watching videos or browsing the Web on. The Omnia is also pretty comfortable to make phone calls with using just one hand -- and there's not a stylus in sight.
While it doesn't always work, there's something admirable about Samsung's approach to features, which essentially consists of cramming as much stuff into a phone as possible. To start with the Omnia boasts both HSDPA and Wi-Fi, giving you high-speed access to your emails and the Web almost everywhere you go.
Like the HTC Touch Diamond, the Omnia comes pre-installed with Opera Mobile 9.5, which lets you browse full Web pages in a similar way to how you do on an iPhone -- allowing you to zoom in and out of pages by tapping the screen. The screen is not as responsive as the iPhone's when it comes to accurately tapping something, however.
Indeed, the Omnia's screen is a great point of contention for us, because while it isn't always as responsive as we'd like -- when scrolling, for example -- it's one of the most responsive Windows Mobile touchscreen devices out there. So while we'd like to say that it's as good as the iPhone's screen, we can't, but it is good compared to its Windows Mobile competition.
Samsung has done a superb job at making the Windows Mobile interface more finger-friendly, adding shortcut menus and large icons galore. It's fairly easy to navigate your way around, and unlike the HTC Touch Diamond's lag-inducing TouchFLO 3D interface, Samsung's additions don't seem to slow things down at all.
Given that it's Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional, you get all the Microsoft features you expect, including Exchange and Office support and the ability to edit documents -- something the iPhone can't do. You can also use Windows Messenger, which is handy if you regularly use it on a desktop and want a mobile instant-messaging solution.