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Samsung GT-i8700 Omnia 7 - initial thoughts

So here we are, the final big hitter in the world of software has entered the mobile OS ring with Windows Phone 7.Just as we were getting used to the Apple versus Android debate, the long gestating Windows Phone 7 platform is now upon us where we can finally get a good look at what Microsoft's has to show. Unfortunately, One Mobile Ring can already feel a lingering sense of disappointment.

All too often whilst using the Samsung Omnia 7, we kept thinking "It's just like the ..." and "it feels just like the ..." and all around certain aspects of the phone. Whilst familiarity is a good thing a times, you'd expect more originality from the first batch of Windows Phone handsets.

The Samsung Omnia 7 ships with a highly clear and responsive touch screen, just like the Samsung i9000. The body of the device is clean and well-built, whilst retaining the look of the Samsung S8500 Wave. It does feel robust and well-sized, with a reassuring weight that has become fairly typical of recent Samsung devices. The camera response is good - if a little unspectacular - but it does boast a good feature set with a vast array of customisation, along with a built-in LED flash.

The battery life is better than expected, when compared to other smartphones. There is an impressive loudspeaker on the back of the device, along with a 3.5mm jack for those moments when you don't want the entire bus to know you are listening to Steps.

In the end, it is hard to pick a fault within the overall hardware - the OS is another matter entirely.

It's surprising to see what Samsung has done with this device and all their recent mobile phones. The consumer electronics giant are not one to stick with a single operating system, where they currently have one of the top Android devices in the market, with the Samsung Galaxy S. Even their own Bada OS is exceptional and is firmly driving sales of the Wave, with a sequel to that very device on the way this year with more handsets planned running the OS.

Microsoft is currently focussed on driving the Windows Phone 7 OS roll out to the world, with many devices exclusively to mobile phone networks. However, without wishing to see the glass as half empty, we feel that Microsoft has let down their end of the deal.

The Seattle software developers have come late to the show, which is a very big problem unless you have something that is unique, spectacular or both. Windows Phone 7 brings neither to the table, which is at the heart of the matter.

Android has been developed to be fully customisable down to its very core, whilst being available on such a vast range of handsets where you can even pick up a budget phone for under £100. Handset manufacturers and developers can even remove huge chunks of the software, in order to create new ways to manipulate the device which can hardly be said about other platforms.

The iPhone is seen as the very pinnacle of extravagance, the ultimate cultural statement. Owning an Apple mobile phone means the user has arrived in the upper echelons of social hierarchy. However, there is always a sense that it is doing everything for you, dictating to the user how it is to be used and not the other way around.

With Windows Phone 7, Microsoft's bullish attitude could potentially come unstuck within the long run. You will use IE as the browser and you must use Bing to search. You must use Zune for your media and you must use Office for your documents. Call us old fashioned, but One Mobile Ring is not sure dictating exactly how to use the phone is the right way to keep us happy as a consumer.

The general theme of the phone is flat and unimaginative, in both the chassis design and implementation of Windows Phone 7. As an example, the user can only choose white text on a black background, or the opposite of that. Being simple and streamlined is all well and good, but lacking in overall substance is not the best way forward.

There's No file transfer over Bluetooth, no video calling, no call barring, and list goes on as to what isn't part and parcel of the OS. A lot of these can be implemented in software updates, such as the missing cut and paste that's due to arrive early next year. However, you have to wonder why Microsoft has left it so late to join the party, as they are already 12 months behind the current trend.

At the end of the day, we feel as though we've been given a sports car, but it's been driven by a short sighted man without glasses. One Mobile Ring applauds Samsung for bringing one of their best pieces of manufacturing to the game, but shame on Microsoft for believing their own hype.

There will be many who look at this device as the 'saviour' of the mobile phone industry, but we're certain this is more out of spite towards the current crop of mobiles than anything else. In closing, we can't help but asking .....

"Is that it?"

- C.

Originally published at