Samsung Omnia (i900)

Some of the best bits of an iPhone without actually being one, this may just fit the bill. But be warned, it’s not an iPhone…

+ 5MP camera; nice looking; widgets; OS
- Sluggish accelerometer; no stylus compartment; OS

Released to a fanfare of excitement, presentations and big-bucks marketing, the Samsung Omnia (or i900) is certainly a good looker. But can it fulfil everything that its name (‘everything’ in Latin and ‘wish’ in Arabic) promises?

Beauty inside and out

The 3.5in, 240 x 400 screen is more than ample for video and web browsing, although it’s probably best used indoors with ‘normal’ lighting. The icons on screen are well designed and quite eye-catching and the handy widget that lets you drag things to the desktop is another nice touch.

Thankfully, the Omnia, also has plenty going on behind its pretty façade, thanks to Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional - an operating system that will have a Marmite-like effect on mobile buyers.

Whatever your feelings on it, the Omnia’s touchscreen interface is generally quite responsive, with haptic feedback, and a range of input menu options, in addition to a hard-key ‘mouse’ for those who like to pick and choose.

OK computer

Then there’s the accelerometer action. This flip (portrait to landscape or vice versa) feature a la iPhone make the onscreen keypad much easier to use, especially for text-intensive apps such as Word docs and emails. But not everything is perfect. And despite other nice touches, the slight delay while the GUI readjusts to the format gets a thumbs down.

Features-wise, the shiny Omnia has a wide range of treats for work and play. In fact, as it stands today, it caters much better for the business user than the iPhone, with a 7.2 Mbps HSDPA connection and decent-sized memory - 8GB/16GB as standard, boostable to 32GB with the help of microSDHC.

The built-in apps, while not being the fastest kids in town, are easy to use and work well with the stylus. Sadly, there’s no home for the stylus itself in the device. Thus, you risk it hitting you in the face like one of Pat Butcher’s dangly earrings by tying it to an eyelet, or simpy carry it around separately.

Snap happy

One area where the Omnia does hold its head up high, though is its 5-megapixel camera, which blows the iPhone 2-megapixel effort out of the water. The images are good quality, but it’s the auto-focus, face and smile detection and auto-panorama shot that make it a viable budget-snapper replacement.

The business card reader sounds handy, but it’s not something we’d give to the emergency services. While it gets right most of the time, we found it more useful as entertainment.

Apples are not the only fruit

The biggest bugbear is Windows Mobile itself, which still rears its ugly head behind the mask of Samsung’s makeover. That challenges the swish initial impression (as does the realisation it’s made of plastic), but it doesn’t stop it being a very usable phone with some strong features.

Samsung has done its best to prove that you can have both beauty and substance in one device. It won’t take you to a swanky restaurant, do your washing or make sure your team wins the cup, but it does have pretty much all you’d want – or need – in a Windows-powered mobile.


Windows Mobile-powered smartphone
8GB flash memory
3.2in 240 x 400 touchscreen LCD screen
FM radio
5-megapixel flash autofocus integrated camera
Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional
5-megapixel flash autofocus integrated camera
Microsoft Office, push email, TV out, geo-tagging, Time Manager, business card recognition, stylus, 3.5mm heaphone adaptor, embedded games, FM radio


Video ports: Component in, composite in, 3 x HDMI in, RF in, 2 x SCART in
HDCP-compliant: Yes
Audio ports: 1/4in headphone out
Data ports: Infra-red
Expansion: CAM
Speakers: Integrated
Peripherals: Remote control
Dimensions: 80 x 22 x 55 cm (WDH)
Weight: 14kg
Features: Resolution+, Noise reduction, 100Hz, Active Vision processing, colour management


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