Belying its modest name, the Samsung Omnia Lite is a relatively feature-rich handset that runs the Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system and packs in support for HSDPA, Wi-Fi and GPS. It's also enticingly cheap. You can pick it up for free on a £20-per-month contract, or around £200 SIM-free.
The Omnia Lite doesn't have the traditional look of a smart phone. It's not quite as wide as most of the Windows Mobile and Android devices we've seen recently. Its narrower profile helps it feel more comfortable in your hand than some of Samsung's other smart phones, such as the rather chunky Galaxy Portal.
The form factor does compromise the 76mm (3-inch) screen, however, as the display has a slightly unusual 240x400-pixel resolution. The result is that, when you hold the phone horizontally to view a Web page, for example, it doesn't fit all that much of the page onto the screen, so you end up having to do plenty of vertical scrolling.
Dual user interface
As with the other models in the Omnia range, the Lite uses Microsoft's Windows Mobile smart-phone operating system -- in this instance version 6.5. WinMo was updated last year to make it slightly more finger-friendly, and there are some neat features, such as an unlock screen that doesn't require you to actually unlock the phone in order to view new emails or text messages. It's still a long way from being as user-friendly as Android or the iPhone's OS, however.
Mindful of this, Samsung has slapped its own TouchWiz user interface over the top of Microsoft's offering. It provides three home screens that you can switch between by swiping your finger back and forth across the display. You can also drag and drop a range of widgets onto the home screens for live displays of weather forecasts and Facebook updates, for example.
Having to run WinMo and TouchWiz simultaneously seems to be slightly overwhelming for the handset's 624MHz Marvell processor and 256MB of RAM. It feels too sluggish as you move between home screens or jump between open apps.
The Lite's camera is also found wanting. It has a fairly average 3.2-megapixel resolution and the slow autofocus takes a while to do its stuff, so you often have to deal with a lengthy lag between pressing the phone's camera button and it taking a snap. Outdoor shots don't look too bad, as the camera delivers reasonably natural-looking colours, but pictures taken indoors tend to look noisy.
Otherwise, though, the specification is rather good. There's 512MB of flash memory for storing files, and this can be boosted using cheap microSD cards. The Lite also supports HSDPA and Wi-Fi for fast Web browsing, and there's on-board GPS, which works well with the Google Maps application. Battery life isn't too bad either -- you can expect to get around two days' use out of the phone before it needs a recharge.
The Omnia Lite's mishmash of Windows Mobile and TouchWiz is messy, and the handset feels much more sluggish than Samsung's recent Android phones. Consequently, despite its decent line-up of features, slim profile and relatively low price, we find it difficult to recommend.
Edited by Nick Hide and Charles Kloet