Hands-On With The Samsung Omnia

The Samsung OmniaI’m here just 85 miles north of the equator in steamy Singapore, a brief 24 hour door-to-door hop skip and jump from the United States, for the CommunicAsia conference, and I just had a hands-on with the new Samsung Omnia smartphone. The Omnia has a a 3.2-inch touchscreen display and will be hitting Singapore’s Singtel and StarHub carriers (HSDPA, GPRSH) this week, and the rest of Europe later in July, and China in August.

I can easily say the Omnia is the first full-featured Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional phone that I’ve had hands-on with that actually packs enough power under the hood to keep up with the fancy custom-UI overlay called “TouchWiz UI” that Samsung added.

On the home screen, there are about 14 widgets that run along the left side, and Samsung says more will be available. To activate a widget, like the movie player for example, you just finger-slide the widget from its toolbar out onto the mainscreen, and the program launches. Where phones like the HTC Touch struggled and navigation was a bit clunky, the Omnia, at least for the time being, is fluid and quick. Click the link below for more shots, including a spy-shot of the white version.

Speed is important, too, because the Omnia doubles up as a full blown multimedia device. It’s available in both an 8GB and 16GB model, and users can add up to 16GB of extra memory with a side-loaded microSD card. It also comes with a 5MP camera that sports a flash and facial recognition features. It supports DivX, XviD, H.263, H.264, WMV, and MP4 video playback as well as MP3, AAC, AAC+, WMA, OGG, and AMR audio. An Indiana Jones trailer looked beautiful and crisp during playback. The phone comes with an adapter for a 3.5mm headset.

Professionals and teens will both appreciate the phone’s preloaded suite of applications that includes ShoZu, Microsoft Office Document Viewer, GPS software for navigation and geotagging photos, and Opera for web browsing. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a data connection during our hands-on so we weren’t able to surf the web.

You can also use the handset in either landscape or horizontal mode, and the phone automatically adjusts itself using a built-in accelerometer. To navigate around the device, you can either use your fingers, the included stylus (which oddly can’t be stowed away inside the device), or a touch-sensitive trackpad that’s built into the bottom of the handset. It’s an awesome way to move your mouse around the screen with your finger, much like on a laptop.

Overall I was really impressed by the Omnia, specifically because it packs a ton of features into a sleek and easy-to-use phone. Unfortunately, it won’t be available in the United States for the foreseeable future, but we’ll keep you updated on Asian pricing.

Stay tuned for more details from CommunicAsia. I’ll be up late at night writing and drinking strawberry milkshakes here in the former British East India trading post to bring you the latest and greatest news. Rumor has it that we’ll see new handsets from Sony Ericsson, as well as a glimpse at the Garmin Nuvifone.

Full stats of the Samsung Omnia:
Network: HSDPA 7.2Mbps
EDGE/GPRS (850 / 1900 / 1800 / 1900MHz)
OS: Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional
Display: 3.2-inch WQVGA TFT LCD (240 x 400)
Camera: 5-MP
autofocus, image stabilizer, geo-tagging, auto-panorama, smile shot
Wide Dynamic Range (WDR), Face detection
Video: DivX, XviD, H.263, H.264, WMV, MP4
Audio: Mp3, AAC, AAC+, WMA, OGG, AMR, FM Radio
WiFi: 802.11b/g, Bluetooth 2.0 w/ A2DP
Memory: 8GB/16GB, upgradeable with additional 16GB microSD card
Size: 112 x 56.9 x 12.5mm
Talktime: up to 5.5 hours

[flv:/flvs/omnia.flv 480 360]

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Submit Comments

  1. Tom Says:

    Great preview Mr. Haselton! Are those your hands in the pics?

  2. MeMyselfAndI Says:

    Man I wish this phone was available in the USA. We are so assbackwards when it comes to new phone technology. I would buy this phone in a heartbeat if I could get it here with Verizon or Sprint.

  3. Daniel Vieira Says:

    Hello, mr. Haselton,

    Can you help me? I have one question. It´s related with the screen resolution- Does the screen have a good resolution to watch videos and web pages or there´s a long walk to go for samsung in that matter?

    Thank you, and keep up with the good work.

  4. Todd Haselton Says:

    Hi Daniel,
    Actually the screen is quite good. The resolution is less than the iPhone’s (200 x 400) but videos still look sharp. I have an episode of Heroes playing on it right now.


  5. Patrick Soon Says:

    @ Daniel Vieira

    Samsung definitely made a controversial decision by making the Omnia with a WQVGA screen (240×400). It’s much too long in my opinion. So much so that some of my programs crash upon loading. Skype, for example was made for more conventional Windows Mobile screen sizes, and often drops calls or just doesn’t start at all, requiring a soft reset. Though some would think that the extra wide screen on the Omnia provides for a better wide-screen divx movie experience, the truth is, there’s another drawback. The colors are limited to only 65k. So, what I initially thought were video artefacts on in the video were actually the limitations of Omnia.

    Web pages, on the other hand, look great. The broswer interface is very similiar to that of the Wii’s (I guess because both are made by Opera). Zooming in and out isn’t exactly intuitive, but after a little learning, my browsing experience is pretty on par with other mobile devices, if not much better because of the extra-wide screen. The color limitation doesn’t affect the browsing experience much.


  6. Jim Gerboc Says:


    Like others, I have a concern about a “non-standard” screen and future compatibility. Unfortunately, many reiews discuss these phones latest-greatest feature set, but stop short of real world uselfulness. Often they are written by people who are only looking for the coolest features. The screen on the Omnia is a case in point. Many of us business users live and die by these phones. For example, how does Omnia perform in the sunlight? Most people need to be able to glance at the screen in a car…ie sunlight! Some screens like the early Treo’s, offer transreflective screens that are bright when lit, but also easy to read in the sun. Another area is syncing data. How well does the Omnia sync? Is it reliable? Can I do a backup easily? How is the battery life REALLY, when used by a business professional rather than playing games? How many times did the phone crash during the review? Was it easy to reset? Stability and program responsiveness, screen readability, and data prtoection can effect our ability to do our jobs.

    I am going to VZW tomorrow to look closely at the Storm, Omnia, and TouchPro. But, I will have to trust reviews like yours to make my ultimate decision because there is no way to cover all the functuionality in 30 days. Please keep this in mind.

  7. Nsk Says:

    Does Omnia Has Dual Camera?

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