This week I got a Samsung Omnia W
device and I am sure the whole Internet is eager to learn my opinion. I had it for a very short time and I cannot make a real review but I am ready to share first impressions. Keep in mind that this is my first smartphone so I cannot do real usage comparison with other mobile operating systems and devices.
Why Windows Phone?
I work on a Windows 7 machine at work, I use Windows 7 laptop, write documents (including this article) in Microsoft Office, play some casual games on Xbox (in my book Halo is a casual game) and I play serious games on a desktop PC running Vista. I did not choose these things because I am a big fan of Microsoft (I am in fact somewhat of a fan but this is irrelevant for these choices). I chose them because I felt they were the best options for gaming and productivity when I bought each of them. Given this existing ecosystem I chose SkyDrive
as the place to store my stuff in the cloud, and Live Mesh
as the solution for keeping information between the machines in sync. While both iPhone and Android could be made to work in this ecosystem I am convinced that Windowfs Phone will yield the greatest benefits.
What is more I find web-based software inferior in almost every way to native counterparts and I detest the idea of using it just because it is always in sync on every device. I want the full benefits of the cloud without the punishment of using web based software.
The second reason is that from the position of a .NET developer I wanted a phone which I could program in .NET if I wanted to try mobile development. In addition buying a device with an operating system that uses .NET as its main development platform will increase the demand for .NET software and in this way the income of .NET developers – my income. I fully realize that my purchase is insignificant by itself but it is a matter of principle. One of the reasons I got Samsung instead of Nokia was that Samsung, being a Korean company, are sponsoring StarCraft related events. This matters!
You may be under the impression that Windows Phone is bad but I am going to use it anyway due to outside factors. As I pointed out I cannot compare its real world usage to Android and iOS because I have not used them. However the reviews of the OS are quite positive and the feature list does not lack anything that I want and is present in competing operating systems. I have also played with Android phones, Windows Phones and iPhones that my friends own and I tend to like the Windows Phone interface better because of its style and simplicity. Of course this may not be the case if I had used the devices for several months but it is not completely uninformed decision.
Before Windows Phone 7.5 was released I felt like the OS was worse than the competitors so I refused to buy a smartphone because I did not want to compromise. Today Windows Phone has probably the fastest mobile HTML5 browser (due to GPU acceleration), copy/paste (just like the first iPhone the first release of Windows Phone 7 did not have copy/paste) and some reasonable level of multitasking (yes it is pseudo multitasking but it works well enough).
Why the Samsung Omnia W
While each and every Windows Phone device of the last generation got the 7.5 upgrade I intentionally waited for the new wave released in 2011. They have better hardware and I believe they will get more updates for future versions of the OS compared to the previous generation when Microsoft finally decide to stop updating old devices.
I had two main requirements for my phone – a hardware keyboard and a good screen (preferably Super AMOLED). Sadly no device from this generation includes a hardware keyboard so my main concern was the screen. The Focus S phone is not available in Europe so the two devices for the final battle were Samsung Omnia W and Nokia Lumia 800. According to reviews the Lumia AMOLED Clear Black screen is pretty good but Samsung's Super AMOLED technology is slightly better. Both screens are 3.7" so the size did not play a role here. Nokia's device has 16GB of memory while Samsung's has just 8GB. The Lumia has a better camera but I do not care about this. To compensate the Omnia W has a front-facing camera for video calls but I do not care about this either. Finally the Lumia is considerably more expensive. The unlocked phone costs about 130 EUR more. I already mentioned that I care about how companies advertise and Samsung advertise via StarCraft so this was another point for them.
Getting the phone in Bulgaria was not easy. While the device was announced a long time ago it was not available unlocked and shipping to Bulgaria let alone sold by Bulgarian carriers. There were several changes in the preorder price and I had to send proof that the shipping address existed and that I am the owner of the debit card I used for payment. I would not call the purchase smooth but it could have been a lot worse.
Speaking of Bulgaria – the Marketplace does not officially work here. Just like with Xbox Live I said I lived in the U.K. because I am part of the big European Union family. However the Marketplace insisted that I provide valid U.K. address and phone. So I provided the address and the phone of the Bulgarian embassy in London. I am pretty sure they get paid from my taxes to represent me in the U.K. The Bulgarian debit card worked like charm because money knows no borders and I was able to purchase apps.
Oh and the OS does not support Bulgarian language yet.Marvin
I named the phone Marvin after Marvin the Paranoid Android
from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. My Marvin does not run Android but I am sure he is really depressed by the fact that his user cannot give him a task to occupy his marvelous intellect. Also he is probably depressed by how stupid other phones (running Android) are.
For now I am happy with the software. It is beautiful and smooth. I am constantly amazed by different features but my friends tell me that these are standard for most smartphones. For example I was impressed when Marvin locked the screen when I put it to my ear so I could not end the call accidentally.
The hardware itself is what I expected. The pictures are good enough for me and the screen is just gorgeous. My biggest problem with the phone so far is that two of the three hardware buttons are soft buttons and I constantly press them with my palm while holding the phone. This is really annoying but I guess I will get used to it. On the bright side pressing these buttons causes a slight vibration so I always know I did press them and I never had to wonder how I ended up on a particular screen I did not intend to visit.
At this very moment I am downloading the developer tools for Windows Phone
but this is a subject for another article. I hope I will be interested in the device long enough to gather enough information to write it.