By January 23, 2010

Review: Samsung Omnia Pro

samsung-omnia-pro

Samsung are no stranger to Windows Mobile and given that the Omnia was a bit of a hit Samsung have taken the name and produced a whole rake of mobiles that cover all form factors. We take a look at the Executive model, the Omnia Pro.

We’ll start by taking a look at the device.

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On top there are two hatches. One leading to the headphones and the second to the MicroUSB connector. To the side is the stylus. A three section, telescopic stylus I might add that is tightly packed in.

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On the left are the volume buttons and a dedicated button for switching between phone profiles. At the far end is a hole for a charm or a hand strap.

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The bottom has a groove for the back cover to be removed and a hole for the microphone.

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The right side sees the camera buttons and a handy lock button. There is a small hole leading to a reset button.

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The back has the massive hole for the 5.0 megapixel camera. There is also a rather impressive dual LED flash and beside the Samsung logo is a speaker grill. The back cover is notable here since it is a beautiful red. There are some neat lines to accent the artist flourish. This is something of an oddity for an Executive device. The likes of the Blackberry Bold have done it before, were they added a faux leather backing the Omnia Pro has more of a modern and elegant gloss to it.

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The front is a simple affair. Three buttons. Accept call, Abort call and a large unmarked, semi-circular button in the middle. The unmarked button brings up a default program menu with your favourites. Much like the start menu, but not the start menu itself. Unlike most other Windows Mobile phones there is no Window button nor is there a back button. The lack of a back button can be quite annoying especially since End call button takes you right back to the main menu screen, this also doubles as the power button.

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The 3.5 inch AOMLED screen is lovely. Bright and inviting. Above this is a front facing VGA camera for video calling.  There are also a few sensors that at clearly visible.

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Under the back cover is nothing notable. The back cover itself is simple to remove and one does not have to remove the battery to swap mircoSD cards. Quite a relief.

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There is also a slide out Qwerty keyboard. Usually a hit or miss affair, I’m pleased to report this is a winner. The keys are just right for large-ish thumbs like mine and despite a lack of haptic feedback there is a tiny click from the phone when pressing them, this combined with the tactic click from the keys makes for a rather pleasant typing experience. Top marks for this one.

The slide mechanism is quite sturdy also, matching the rest of the phones build quality. There is the smallest amount of given if touched lightly with your fingers but there is no way this will slide open accidentally.

Finger prints are always a problem these days and the Omnia Pro is no exception. From the beautiful red back to the black gloss surrounding the screen, everywhere is susceptible to your nasty finger oils.

The Samsung Omnia Pro runs Windows Mobile 6.5, however you will struggle to recognise it. The Samsung signatures are all over this and completely obscure the original look and feel of Windows Mobile. Presenting the Omnia Pro’s pretty Touchwiz interface.

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There is a lot to like on this device, take for example the Today screen. Samsung have been consistent with the widgets. The are quite handy, as you can see there are a couple of widgets I have populated the screen with to get quick access to some of my more frequently used functions. The experience is marred by the typical landscape bug, flip it open and your widgets will be piled on top of each other in the middle of the screen.

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There is quite a high quantity of widgets. However, don’t get too excited as many of them are merely shortcuts to the relevant website instead of an interesting application.

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Hitting the status bar at the top reveals a shortcut menu to the crucial notifications of the phone. You can open these to adjust the settings or view a message that might have arrived.

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There is a huge centre button at the bottom that flips up a handy shortcut menu saving you the anguish of having to flip though the seeming endless list on the Start menu. This is a neat and useful solution to your everyday need if you do not wish to cram a load of shortcuts onto your Today screen. You categorise the screens and flip between them by swiping from right to left and back again. Notice how pre-installed applications have a large icon however apps you add yourself have a smaller icon in front of ..,. a dishwasher.

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the Task Manager is a lovely surprise. Displaying some swish thumbnails for you to fiddle with instead of the typical list of tasks. This gives you a better idea of what you are closing  and what you have left open.

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The phonebook features a nice, revised and finger friendly interface. Other than having a new lick of paint it contains all the typical features of the phone book. You can select how you want to contact the various folks on here through, essentially, all means.

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Cleaning up the mailboxes is something all Windows Mobile users will appreciate and there are few manufactures who go to such lengths to do so. Top marks again to Samsung for going to the extra trouble.

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The approach to SMS is similar to that of the iPhone. However, after using it for a while it started to irritate me. When a message is sent it does not appear on the screen, instead you have to go back to the main message list then into the message chain to re-read something you have sent. A small problem but initially you worry that your message hasn’t been sent and then, as I do, have to go back in to ensure that what you have written makes sense. Does that make sense?

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There are a load of settings to work with, to customise just how Samsung’s Touchwiz works for you. These are melded together with the Windows Mobile settings and whilst there are numerous options it isn’t as daunting to work through.

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Hitting the Work & Life button brings up the Work Today screen. This reminded me very much of the Nokia N97 with it’s divisions. However, this one has a great deal of elegance to it and the widgets are much more refined.

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Adding to the usage is the Communities function. Recognising that most people have some form of online social network requirements Samsung have added a handy tool to keep track of the integration of these social services. You’ll have the footprints of this throughout the phone. Once completed you can send photos to whatever pre-set service you please.

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The sound menu is also worth mentioning as it manages to make it very simple to hush your phone on the fly. Once again being finger friendly and responding to the many buttons around the device

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The camera on the device is serviceable. Producing images that are large and well coloured but quite flat when reviewed.

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One annoyance i did notice was when reviewing the photos, the pictures were viewed on screen with some nasty black bars at the side as the screen is a different resolution to that taken with the camera. With a nicely large screen it’s quite disappointing to see screen real estate going to waste.

Most things have been positive thus far and it wouldn’t be right to keep blowing the phones trumpet when there are some problems. After a while I got annoyed with a few aspects of it and perhaps it might just take time for the device’s shot comings to be ignored by the user.

The lack of a back button really began to bug me. some screens like that of the Inbox have the a soft back button on top of the screen but it isn’t everywhere. You frequently have to hit the End Call button to go back to the Today screen and navigate back to what you were doing.

Opera can be a real pain.The menu bars jump about frequently whilst a page is loading and the scrolling is far for ideal. Usually working out to be too slow or too fast.

Text entry can be a chore as the spell checker pops up and you could be half way through a sentence when you realise the checker is wondering if it has recognised the first word correctly. On a slide out Qwerty keyboard it would be great to have the perfect balance between handy input and effective spelling correction. The Omnia Pro doesn’t manage it.

Sometime the cursor is not visible. When entering text and you step back to edit a word you have to count how many places you have gone as the flashing text input cursor can vanish.

Finally and most crucially, the phone just doesn’t feel fast. There are short delays in everything. Screen rotation can take up to 2 seconds and the animations don’t exactly feel fluid. Packing the old Snapdragon processor this device would have kicked the competition in the gentleman’s area and scampered off sniggering. Instead it feels like a phone with an ambitious user interface, just enough juice to run it and no more and it’s gentleman’s area exposed read for a good kick by the next phone to come along.

These are minor complaints on an otherwise great effort at making a balanced executive device. It’s more fun than the Touch Pro2 but not quite as well honed. It’s feels good, and I mean really good. Solid, expensive and striking.The Omnia Pro takes Windows Mobile and crossdresses it into the Samsung look. Some will love the new look and enjoy having a play with it, others will just sigh and write it off as yet another 6.5 device in some sexy lingerie.

Thanks go out to Clove who have supplied us this review device

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Networks – GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900, HSDPA 900 / 2100
Dimensions – 112.6 x 57.8 x 16.2 mm
Weight – 159 g
Display – AMOLED resistive touchscreen, 16M colors (65K effective), 800 x 480 pixels, 3.5 inches
Memory – 2 GB storage, 256 MB RAM, microSD, up to 32GB
Data – GPRS, EDGE, 3G, HSDPA
Wi-Fi – 802.11 b/g, DLNA
Bluetooth – Yes, v2.0 with A2DP
USB – v2.0 microUSB
Camera – 5 MP, 2592 x 1944 pixels, autofocus, LED flash
Video – 720×[email protected] (D1)
CPU – Samsung S3C6410 800MHz processor, dedicated graphics accelerator
– GPS with A-GPS support
– Advanced R touchscreen display
– Full QWERTY keyboard
– Accelerometer sensor for auto-rotate- 3.5 mm audio jack
– DNSe (Digital Natural Sound Engine)
– Business card scanner
– Work & Life mode
– MP3/WAV/e-AAC+/WMA/AMR player
– DivX/XviD/MP4/3gp/H.263/H.264 player
– Photo/video editor
– Pocket Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF viewer)
– Voice memo/dial
– TV-out
– Mobile tracker
Battery -  Li-Ion 1500 mAh
Stand-by – Up to 580 h (2G) / Up to 480 h (3G)
Talk time – Up to 12 h 18 min (2G) / Up to 6 h 48 min (3G)

Posted in: Phones

About the Author:

Seasoned tech blogger. Host of the Tech Addicts podcast.
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