The Samsung Omnia W offers nothing new or innovative but is a solid option at a competitive price.
No love for Windows Phone
Launched back in 2010 as Microsoft's last attempt to gain a footprint into the mobile phone market, the Windows Phone platform has experienced a rough ride in Australia. It continues to lag behind popular iPhone and Android alternatives and even RIM's flagging BlackBerry. It has been largely been held back by poor promotion from manufacturers and telcos alike.
The Samsung Omnia W is a perfect example of this lack of interest. It launched back in January as a Telstra-exclusive, but did not even appear on Samsung's own website until early March and has barely been promoted at all by Telstra. It isn't the only Windows Phone to suffer the same fate: only Nokia's new Lumia Windows Phone range has received any marketing attention in Australia.
The Samsung Omnia W is the first Windows Phone in Australia that replaces one of the first generation models, in this case the Samsung Omnia 7. It's also the company's first smartphone to run the latest Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango" operating system out of the box.
Nothing remarkable, but a good user experience
On paper there is little that is remarkable about the Omnia W. It has a faster processor and a more rounded design than its predecessor but maintains largely similar specifications. This phone won't convert many users of iPhone or Android devices to the Windows Phone platform, but it certainly offers a slick experience at a competitive price.
Despite not offering anything overly new or noteworthy, there are a few things that we really like about the Omnia W. Its rounded corners and compact size means it fits nicely in the hand. It's about the same size as an iPhone 4S but is more comfortable to hold and use. We like the faux, brushed metal finish on the rear which adds a touch of class to an otherwise bland, plastic slab.
The Omnia W's 3.7in super AMOLED touch screen is a real plus on a mid-range device. It's responsive, bright and clear and offers excellent viewing angles. However, it is often hard to see in direct sunlight and the 800x480 resolution is significantly lower than many higher-end smartphones.
The Omnia W has a physical home button that we find far more intuitive than touch-sensitive keys. This Windows key is flanked by capacitive back and search buttons and these are both responsive and effective. The volume rocker, power button and dedicated camera key are all well positioned and provide good tactility, adding to the overall user experience.
Speaking of the camera, we love how it opens within three seconds if you hold down the camera button from the lock screen. The 5-megapixel camera itself produces photos that suffer from plenty of image noise, but the quality is perfectly acceptable for a mid-range device. Shutter speed is also impressive, meaning you can take a multiple shots with minimal delay between snaps.
Samsung has included a front-facing camera for video calls, which can be made through the included Samsung video call app. The 1.3-megapixel front camera will work with any third-party app that utilises this feature such as the Tango video call app, for example.
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