Samsung Focus Review
So here we are finally witnessing the all encompassing reality of Microsoft's next-gen mobile platform, which, like most other big launches prior to this one, will be inspected from head to toe in an attempt to see how it compares or improves upon the current standing crop of competition. If there is one thing we have to say about Windows Phone 7 more than anything else, it has to be that it's extremely quick – and we mean exquisitely one of the most responsive platforms to date. The Samsung Focus itself is running a 1GHz Snapdragon processor under the hood as opposed to a customary Hummingbird chipset, but regardless of that, it's still able to fly without no problems. Windows Phone 7 relies heaving on using various transition effects and animations to provide the end user an experience that's consistently uplifting.
At its core, the Metro UI provides a standard look and feel for the entire platform – which obviously translates to a unified experience that doesn't change from handset to handset. Depending on your taste, you might build a liking for the Metro UI since it employs a custom made Microsoft font which purposely allows words to run off the screen – so you'll have to do some scrolling left/right to completely read it. Think of it more like a homescreen with 3 or 4 panels to move through; that's what the Metro UI feels like. By default, the Focus is set to a black color scheme, which we attribute to battery optimization, but thankfully you'll have your choice of colors to choose from. Again, the consistency is there when you choose a specific color theme since it'll echo throughout the various hubs and applications on the smartphone.
The Windows Phone 7 homescreen consists of various square and rectangular tiles (Live Tiles)
Main menu on the Samsung Focus
When you first gaze at Windows Phone 7, you'll be looking straight at its homescreen which consists of various square and rectangular tiles (Live Tiles), whith some being dynamic, while others simply static. For example, the “People” tile will continuously loop various contact photos, which of course adds to the general appeal to the platform. Another, the “Me” tile will aggregate a variety of content, like status messages and recently uploaded photos to Facebook, which provides even more eye candy to the platform. Now the homescreen is only visible in portrait mode, and as you play around with other hubs and apps, you will quickly take note that it will only support portrait orientation. You can add additional tiles, like a contact or an app, by essentially “pinning” them – which can generally be done by long pressing a specific item in the Start menu or other applications (or bookmarks). Unfortunately, the system dictates the size of the tiles and there is no way to set it manually – so that means some hubs/apps will get more love with their rectangular size than others.
Social networking is undoubtedly going to be the heart and soul that enables us to personalize the device to our liking, while at the same time, allowing us to check up on the most important people in our lives. Similar to what we saw with the KIN platform, Windows Phone 7 ties in closely with Facebook and Windows Live, but unfortunately Twitter is out of the mix – for now. When you set up your social networking accounts, it'll automatically try its best to link existing contacts with the respective Facebook/Windows Live account. When you run the “People” Hub, it'll be the centralized area for you to get acquainted with the most up-to-date news surrounding your friends. You can view photos they've posted to their wall, see status messages, like something, and even reply with a comment. However, it still doesn't feel as tightly integrated as we'd like compared to other mobile platforms. Sure you can post your own status message directly in the “Me” hub, but it doesn't offer things like uploading a picture to a friend's wall or sharing web sites on your wall. Of course, this additional functionality will hopefully be integrated with future update, but for now, it does a decent job with it.
Notifications are accompanied by sound, and the different Live Tiles will let you know if there something new that you should be aware of. For example, an email inbox tile can display the number of unread messages that you have. With the lock-screen, the system continues to categorize a variety of notifications so you'll know exactly what they pertain to – like a Yahoo! email, text message, or Hotmail email.
Since there is a sense of linearity with Windows Phone 7, everything you do with the handset is recorded accordingly as you go – meaning that clicking the back/previous button will go to the previous thing you were doing. There is no full multi-tasking support available, but the back/previous button proves to come in handy in situations when you're trying to juggle a variety of things. For example, we found that while running the preview of the official Twitter client, clicking a link in a tweet will open up the web browser, but when you click the back/previous button, it'll essentially bring you back to the state you were in previously in the Twitter app.
When setting up the phone for the very first time, it'll ask you to set up your email and social networking accounts. The platform will be able to sync existing contacts with Facebook, Windows Live, and Gmail. Although it's not perfect, Windows Phone 7 does its best in linking all of your contacts together, but thankfully you can manually link items yourself. You can add additional contacts to the handset within the “People” Hub, and much like other competing platforms, it offers a wide array of detailed information that can be associated with each person. From phone numbers to email addresses, it'll offer the bare essentials as well as unique ones like anniversary dates and significant others. Since there is no universal search, you can launch the “People” hub and hit the magnifying glass to look for a specific contact. You can essentially add as many contacts that the phone's memory can hold.
You can access voice dialing, which upon other things can perform a variety of actions from opening apps or performing a web search, by simply performing a long press with the Start button. Surprisingly, the client works rather well in recognizing specific actions like “Call Joe mobile” and we didn't find too many times that it faltered.
Since the Windows Phone 7 experience is going to be consistent with each device, which is good in a way, there are no customizations to be found like the various skins we see employed on Android. However, the Focus includes Samsung's very own “Now” hub which is quite similar to the Daily Briefing widget for their Samsung Galaxy S handsets. After launching it, you'll be presented with some pertinent information like the weather, news, and stocks. Meanwhile, you can customize it further by setting up the hub to display what specific news category or stock quotes you want. It's nice of course, but it would've been even better if it could somehow interact within the tile on the homescreen – like displaying the current temperature. Unfortunately, it's locked down to provide a unified experience across all smartphones running the platform.
The Samsung Focus includes Samsung's very own “Now” hub,
1. Random (unregistered)
Its a good review, I am excited for Windows 7 platform but sometimes I wonder if you put Cons just so its not empty. How can you list a "Not fully mature platform" as a Con when it is brand new, just seems odd to me. anywho I cant wait to see the phone in person!
3. oddmanout (Posts: 434; Member since: 22 May 2009)
I wouldn't say its a con but its something that some might find worth noting. A new OS means they'll be taking somewhat of a risk with the platform. I actually thought it was good to acknowledge it but like I said... I wouldn't call it a con for the device itself. Then again, its not exactly a pro.either.
2. oddmanout (Posts: 434; Member since: 22 May 2009)
Excellent review! PA has been catching my attention as of late. I just might stick around with site for my news.
4. KoldKore (Posts: 7; Member since: 21 Oct 2010)
Very nice review. Much better than Engadget's. I'll be sticking around on this site!
5. Xman (unregistered)
Engadget is Fully biased. Anything except iPhone is downgraded in their reviews. What baffles me is that they don't test the phone as the PHONE itself (antenna, call quality, display quality during daylight time). Phonearena is much better in terms of information of a review
6. Eingild (unregistered)
Nice review Phonearena. I hope the reviewer in this video gets promoted for he reviewed the handset very well. It's nice to know that Phonearena is trying its best to improve their site especially the reviews section. By the way, I saw the twitter account following Noah who recently left Phonedog. I guess Phonearena is also a fan of Noah. ^_^
7. jovel16 (Posts: 53; Member since: 05 Oct 2008)
Actually, I always have to be in the loop with our fellow friends about the latest news in the mobile world. Hope you like the other Windows Phone 7 reviews too. But let me say, I try to encompass everything without getting too in-depth in the videos. But in this case, it's fitting for a brand spanking new platform.
8. drewsadik (unregistered)
does it have a front-facing camera?
9. lallolu (unregistered)
Please can one change the language like in iphone and android phones without installing another ROM
10. kawatwo (unregistered)
My contract with AT&T runs out Nov 15th. Can't wait. I hope the battery life is true that would make it perfect. My Fuze has been awesome but is starting to feel a little slow after watching all these videos. I'm sure copy and paste will come in the first update. IE looks decent. Thinnest Win7 phone so far with probably the best battery life and best screen. Can't go wrong.
11. iphone2 (unregistered)
12. uui (unregistered)
come on wp7 we need u to make 480 x 854 (widescreen) display phones.
13. lalaland (unregistered)
ohh i love it!
the european one[omnia 7] is so mpliax hahaha
i want to ask something...
will this phone come to europe and especialy in greece or cyprus?
14. lalaland (unregistered)
15. Kate (unregistered)
I love this phone - thanks Samsung.
And I got unbelievable deals [just $0.01 for connections, and cheapest on the phone only option too] fromhttp://samsung-focus.co.cc
i love it!
16. Kyle Plante (unregistered)
first paragraph of page 2 ..."without no problems" should drop the no. thanks for your website ;)
18. Misdaminer (Posts: 1; Member since: 18 Aug 2012)
I have owned this phone for over a year now, its a bit like getting dog sht on your shoe, you can still walk but it really stinks! Not the fault of the phone but MicroSoft really sucks. Next phone ... Android for sure.