Samsung Focus Flash for AT&T Hands-On: Windows Phone Mango for $49

Samsung-Focus Flash

The design is small and so is the price. The Samsung Focus Flash is the first Windows Phone 7.5 device for AT&T, and it will cost a mere $49. In addition to Microsoft’s latest OS, this compact handset features a 3.7-inch Super AMOLED  display, a swift 1.4-GHz processor, and a 5-megapixel camera. Read on for our hands-on impressions.

The first thing we noticed about the Samsung Focus Flash was how much more compact the phone is when held in the hand compared with its predecessor. Our fingers easily wrapped around this handset’s smoothly curved rectangular shape. Of course, the original Focus sported a bigger 4-inch screen, while the Focus Flash gets by with a 3.7-inch AMOLED display. Though it’s not as large, the high-contrast screen still has plenty of impact, with well-saturated colors that really pop.

We also like the minimalist black aesthetic and metal rear plate that lends a classy look. Be warned however, greasy fingers will leave smudges. Above the screen is a front-facing camera and below it are two capacitive buttons for Back and Search. Unlike the first Focus, which had a capacitive Windows button, a physical key serves the same function here.

The power button is placed within comfortable thumb reach on the phone’s right side, and there’s a dedicated camera button below that fires up the shooter even when the handset is powered down. A volume rocker occupies the right side while a headphone jack and microUSB port sit on the top and bottom edge respectively. On the back of the Focus Flash is its 5-MP camera with flash, the same resolution of the Focus.

Perhaps Flash in Focus Flash refers to speed since this handset features a faster 1.4-GHz CPU compared to its predecessor, which ran a 1-GHz Snapdragon CPU. Our first impressions are that the phone navigates its Windows Phone 7.5 menus nimbly and with pep, especially when compared side-by-side with the older Focus. That’s a big deal since the operating system relies on graphics-heavy animations. Tiles flip, twinkle, and display updates based on real time information.

Users can also pin tiles to the home screen to serve a wide range of functions, such as apps shortcuts, pictures, groups, and people. A Local Scout tile helps find nearby attractions such as restaurants, landmarks, and stores. Samsung also adds its own software to the Focus Flash, with a Daily Briefing app that puts weather, news, stocks, into one location. The Photo Studio application offers Instagram-style effects like Warm, Grey, and Cold plus shooting modes such as Panorama.

Just like other Windows Phone 7 devices, the Samsung Focus Flash can access the Zune Music service and Xbox Live games. AT&T provides its 4G HSPA+ wireless data connection (14.4 Mbps). All of this adds up to a pretty powerful and fun smartphone with a low price. Check back soon for our full review.

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