Samsung Omnia II i920 review
The original Omnia i910 that we reviewed last year came with a new Samsung user interface called TouchWiz, but at the time it was lacking in features and didn’t compare to the more robust TouchFLO 3D interface used by HTC. Now, the Omnia II comes with TouchWiz 2.0, which greatly improves the smartphone experience. In fact, you wouldn’t even know you were using a Windows Mobile device from looking at the home screen if it weren’t for the small “Start” logo on the top left. Speaking of home screens, there are three of them on the Omnia II, where you can selected a different wallpaper for each and place links and widgets from the hidden dock on the left side. The only downside here is that moving between the three home screens is painfully slow, sometimes taking several seconds when they are filled with different widgets. Both the Motorola DROID and HTC DROID ERIS are faster when moving between their multiple home screens, as well as the HTC Imagio and Touch Pro2 using TouchFLO 3D.
Samsung has also completely redesigned the Main Menu, making it easier to use and more customizable. By default there are 5 menu screens, but you can have up to 10. Each one allows you to place 12 icons on a 3x4 grid, for a maximum total of 120 icons. You can easily remove icons by pressing the minus sign (-) or drag them from one menu screen to another by holding them down and moving to the left or right. Along the bottom are three non-changeable icons for settings, task switcher, and edit. When going into the Task Switcher you will see that it is a visually redesigned task manager, allowing you to view, change between, and end running tasks and programs. Its nice graphical layout works rather well as it shows a small thumbnail for each open program. Tapping on the thumbnail will maximize it, allowing for easy multitasking, or you can press the End icon to quickly close programs that are no longer needed.
The Settings menu has also been reworked completely. Categories are arranged in list view with text instead of the traditional icon grid layout, which makes fingering through them much easier. Toggling between options is done by touching an onscreen button or drop-down list, a welcome difference from the toggle switches used by TouchFLO 3D. It is abundantly clear that Samsung put a lot of time into taking any traces of Windows Mobile out of the new Omnia II.
Despite the beefed up processing power, at 800MHz the spinning Windows Mobile ‘beach ball’ still pops up at times when opening programs. The widgets are a great idea, and some of them (like AccuWeather and Google) are very helpful, but they are slow to load when changing between the three home screens. Furthermore, we often found ourselves pressing options two and three times to activate them and not being able to drag widgets around unless they were pressed just right. This problem was only in the home screens (here we really missed HTC’s TouchFLO 3D), though when using the rest of the menus and programs it was very responsive and accurate.
As with everything else, Samsung has put their personal touch on the PIM applications. The calendar is large and finger friendly, with tabs along the top for month, week, day and agenda. Smart Memo is a better version of Notes, where the user can draw with their finger or type with the on-screen keyboard, and insert voice recordings, images and sounds. Samsung has a thing or two to improve here though. The contacts list is easy to navigate, again completely skinned by Samsung, with tabs for the phonebook, category, speed dial, and favorites. Unfortunately, it will not sync and import people from your Facebook page or from Google Talk. The Tasks application sadly hasn’t changed. In fact, the standard WinMo apps for Contacts, Notes, Calendar, Task Manager and a few others are available under the Edit option in the Start Menu. Why anyone would want to use them, we don’t know, since the Samsung versions are superior in every way.
Since the device doesn’t come with a physical keyboard, you are left at the mercy of using the touchscreen, but there’s a surprise here, as the Omnia II is the first phone to feature the new Swype entry method. It can work in both portrait and landscape mode, and all you have to do is press-and-hold the screen and move your finger across the letters to spell a word. You also don’t have to press the space-bar, but can continue spelling the next word since the space is automatically inserted between them. If it isn’t sure of a word, it will show a box with ones to choose from, but this only happens if it doesn’t recognize a word, or the path that your finger moved in could be more than one. It did take a few minutes to get accustomed to using it, but after a while we enjoyed it and became quite fast using it, more so than using a phone’s traditional physical QWERTY keyboard, such as the HTC Touch Pro2 or Motorola DROID. Other input options on the Omnia II are the block recognizer, standard keyboard, letter recognizer, Samsung keyboard, and transcriber. The only other one, besides Swype, we could see ourselves using is the standard Samsung keyboard, as it is comfortable to use, has large buttons, and xt9 for word prediction, but we believe that using the Swype keyboard is the best method out of the bunch and is the fastest way to enter text on the Omnia II.
All the standard messaging formats are available, including Email (POP/IMAP/Exchange), SMS and MMS. Samsung has again skinned these, but the functionality remains the same. Windows Mobile is a very robust messaging platform, but lacks a built-in IM program. Because of this, Verizon still has to place their own Mobile IM app onto the phone to allow messaging through AIM, WL Messenger, and Yahoo!.
The Samsung Omnia II i920 is a dual-band device that operates on Verizon’s CDMA 800/1900MHz network within the US. Data can use Verizon’s EVDO Rev A. network, as well as local Wi-Fi 802.11b/g networks. Bluetooth 2.0+EDR is also supported.
Opera Mobile for all of your web needs, though Internet Explorer is also included. We’ve of course seen Opera employed on many WinMo devices such as the HTC Touch Pro2 and Imagio. The build used here has limited support for Flash, which works with a few sites, such as adobe.com and for embedded YouTube videos. Unfortunately, Opera is really slow to maneuver pages on the Omnia II, which we did not experience on the HTC Imagio, as it feels like you are moving through mud just to pan around, often times with the “gray checkerboard” showing. This is one area of disappointment, since the Omnia II is a smartphone and most users will be browsing the web on it. We also tried Internet Explorer, and it was able to pan around pages and scroll faster than Opera, but could only be used with the phone in portrait mode and lacked some functionality. It is clear that the WebKit browser found on the Motorola DROID and HTC DROID ERIS is superior, as pages not only load faster, but are quick to pan around and scroll through.
1. barmalei (Posts: 20; Member since: 08 Dec 2009)
The overall design is pretty good, but I am getting really tired of the cheap shiny plastics used extensively by Samsung - and it really does feel cheap in your hand. I am glad HTC is moving away from this trend. I can say pretty much the same thing about TouchWiz - it s simply not nearly as attractive as HTC's TouchFlo (Sense) interface. The software does feel sluggish, and even though the screen looks nice, it feels like Samsung is not taking full advantage of it. All in all, rather disappointing.
2. shgam2 (Posts: 42; Member since: 08 Sep 2009)
I am just sick of TouchWiz. It's just so sluggish, makes the phone look like a toy, and user UNfriendly. They really need to work on a new UI because I don't think they can go anywhere with TouchWiz. I will never get a Samsung with TouchWiz....
3. jwl3429 (Posts: 36; Member since: 28 Sep 2009)
Well i ordered the phone last night before the review came out, i think the biggest problem is the interface not the hardware. i will most likely be adding spb mobile shell and the phone should be much improved.
4. SentryAgent (Posts: 4; Member since: 05 Nov 2009)
I got this phone Saturday. By Sunday morning I had installed SPB Mobile Shell 3.5. It makes - IMO - a huge difference. One of my biggest complaints so far is the browser. I don't think Opera is very good at all. Still not sure if I love this phone or not. I was really on the fence in deciding between this and an Android phone. I really wanted to see the HTC Passion(no Bravo), but didn't want to wait any longer. This is my first WinMo phone - coming from Palm -- so there is a learning curve too.
5. coupe68gt390 (Posts: 8; Member since: 16 Nov 2009)
I've had both an XV6800 and just recently the Imagio with no major issues, but when the Moto Droid was announced and after playing around with a co-workers MyTouch, I fell in love with the Android OS. All I can say is do yourself a favor and send the O2 back and get an Droid. It has everything the O2 has and then some! I waited and waited for the O2 and it's been left in the weeds since Android has taken off. If you use Office 2007 or an exchange server heavily stick with what you got. Just keep in mind Android 2.0+ supports all of them, though CURRENTLY not as well. Developers of Android are fast approaching functionality and stability as good or better than that of WinMo! In the less than one month I've had the Droid the apps, both quality and quantity, have improved faster than in two years of owning my WinMo devices. At this point the only thing I'm willing to dump my Droid for is an HD2 with Android on it! Bring it on HTC!!
9. tedkord (Posts: 3939; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)
Droid doesn't have SlingPlayer...and that is a must for me. Sigh...Sticking with WinMo for now.
6. cjz78 (Posts: 7; Member since: 27 Oct 2009)
I don't see why this phone got an 8 with it's shortcommings. I'm a fan of the Omnia line, don't get me wrong, and the hardware is very very nice. But Samsung completely nerfed the interface with that horrible TouchWiz. The browser performance was nowhere near the Driod(when I tried it in store). Not even to mention the sluggishness.
10. tedkord (Posts: 3939; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)
I played with this phone in-store. TouchWiz is absolutely awful. Sluggish. Unintuitive. But, I disabled it, and enabled Titanium. Titanium ran cleanly with no lag whatsoever. On my Omnia 1, Titanium is slightly sluggish, but SPB Mobile Shell 3.5 is butter smooth. So I'm thinking it will absolutely be greased lightning on the O2. Plus, it is intuitive and looks great. I'm still a month or two from deciding for sure to upgrade to the OmniaII. My in-store test made it more likely. (And, man is that AMOLED screen a beauty!)
11. SentryAgent (Posts: 4; Member since: 05 Nov 2009)
Okay, I have this phone, but what is Titanium? I downloaded SPB Mobile already. It is way better than TouchWiz.
7. rtimi26 (Posts: 41; Member since: 16 Mar 2009)
I played with this phone for more that 45mins and I have to tell you. It is an overhauled phone. Granted there are certain things not needed on the phone that were introduced e.g the cube. Let me help people put things in perspective. The Droid is faster to touch due to capacitive touchscreen, and wm6.5 is still not made for that. another thing one has to remember is you can't blame samsung for putting opera, since its either that or internet explorer which we all know sucks. Touch flo or sense UI is very lightly skinned over WM6.5 as to Touchwiz. If anyone compare the Samsung Jet to the Omnia 2 which are have the same touchwiz interface, you will see that the Jet is faster due to the fact that Touchwiz is actually the OS on that phone and not a skin. The droid is the OS and not the skin, if you compare the droid to the up coming xperia x10 you will see that due to the skin on the android OS that it is slower than the droid. I say we don't put much blame on Samsung because they tried to make WM6.5 more user friendly which I think they did well but wait to see what WM7 will do for us. Actually wait for the firmware update for WM6.5.3 which is faster and smoother than the wm6.5 on current phones out. I am using a cooked rom on my omnia1 with some samsung omnialite software and it's great. I can't wait for that on a better phone with more ram and horsepower. Besides the omnia 2 will still outsell the droid in the long run, worldwide that is because US customers are just a name brand buyer and not what you can actually get out of a product.
8. Literati (Posts: 17; Member since: 22 Oct 2009)
The Droid isn't faster than the Omnia 2 because of the UI. The Omnia 2 is using an arm 11 based processor, which is mistake number 1. No offense Microsoft, but Windows is tough on those processors. Had they put in an Snapdragon or the Samsung OMAP3430 (the one in the iPhone) we'd see a much better phone. The Droid is much faster than the Omnia 2 due to its good processor. However, no processor in the world can help the UI's awful interface, and what's worse - I can't say "Just use stock Android and it's fine" like I can with the Behold 2. SPB MS 3.5 is really the only way to go until someone cracks open the Omnia 2 and people start flashing roms for it. Sure, TouchFlo 3D was a shallow attempt at re-skinning WinMo, but Sense has completely re-hauled what TouchFlo was before. The reason the HD2 can get away with such a graphic oriented UI is, again, because of the processor. We know Samsung can make good chipsets, why they don't put them in their own phones I'll never know. And finally, the Omnia 2 will not outsell the Droid. Let's put aside the point that it doesn't really matter how the phone sells (good sales do not magically make the phone good). The reason it won't outsell the Droid here in America is because they are both on Verizon, WinMo is not user-friendly to the average consumer, 6.5 is a dead OS, Omnia 2 is out-marketed severely, Droid is a better phone, and Android. Oh, and of course Verizon already has the Touch Pro2 and the Imagio. Both of which are arguably better phones with better community support for them (XDA Devs). Someone would be out of their mind to choose the Omnia 2 over the Droid and even the Eris save for these two exceptions: they have to have a WinMo phone for work, they are just so caught up in Windows that they'd never drift off to another OS - which is fine. To these people you have to ask "Why the Omnia 2 over the Touch Pro2 or the Imagio?" Aesthetically the Omnia 2 looks pretty good, not as good as the Euro version, but good. However, everything Samsung tried to do with this phone and WinMo HTC did better with both the Imagio and the Touch Pro2. To someone outside of the US I pose these same questions. You can't assume the Omnia 2 will outsell the Droid by default based on the fact that its a world phone and the Droid isn't because the Milestone is the Droid. The only reason I refrain from saying the Droid/Milestone won't beat it in the European market is because Android isn't so popular over there yet. However, with all the other completely awesome phones Europe has that we don't, why would anyone choose the Omnia 2 over any others? There honestly isn't a logical reason other than plain personal preference.
12. Mastertwiz (Posts: 15; Member since: 10 Dec 2009)
I have a couple questions about this review and the specification breakdown posted by PhoneArena. Can someone provide some insight...? 1) PhoneArena specs call-out 65k colors - Samsung specs, per all i920 literature call-out 12 million... what gives? 2) PhoneArena reviewed the video recording...720x480 (18fps) - Samsung claims in all i920 literature that video recording is capable of 720x480 (30 fps)... what gives? It looks like specs for the i920 review were copied and pasted from the GT-i8000 literature. Can we get some clarification on the specs and capabilities/potentials of the i920 hardware? Thanks
13. T DAWGv12 (Posts: 13; Member since: 09 Dec 2009)
Add your comment: To answer your questions which are answered in the review itself: 1) Verizon's CDMA Omnia II does in fact have a 16 million color display this is an upgrade from the GSM version of the Omnia II that only supported 65k colors. I have read/watched a dozen reviews +/- of the CDMA omnia II and I think phone arena is the first to point out the upgraded color quality (something I was greatly interested in). The specs sheet must not have been updated yet. There is also a video on samsung's website that specifically touts verizon's Omnia II as having a 16 million color AMOLED display. 2) Supposedly the Omnia II can record 720x480 at 30fps but according to this review they were only able to achieve a max of 18fps at that resolution I have not read any other reviews that addressed video recording in depth or mentioned any specific issues so I can't tell you if any other reviewers have had the same problem. Hope this helps.
14. darkyogi (Posts: 3; Member since: 10 Oct 2009)
Totally agree with UI issue.. I have a B7610 Omnia Pro which may be called as an OmniaII with a keyboard. After watching the UI for a few days I got SPB mobile shell followed by the HTC sense cab available at xda-developers. Juiced it up by applying the lovely Black theme of Samsung as the wallpaper too and now I have a phone not only looking fantastic but outperforming my Touch Pro and Diamond like anything. However disagree with the negative views on the Opera browser. Here, that is in India, they have supplied the device with WinMo 6.1 Pro and the Opera 9.5 in MUCH better than on my previous HTC devices...it even plays EMBEDDED VIDEOS on most of the sites effortlessly. To make quick browsing and to avoid automatic rotation I also use Opera Mobile 10 Beta. Works beautifully and there is always Skyfire for variety. So...great hardware...lousy interface especially the home screens + programme screens
15. andromniac (Posts: 1; Member since: 14 Jan 2010)
The omnia II is a well built hardware with a solid feel and beautiful screen and its highly customizable thru windows spb shell or even some of the today screen choices the phone if you dont like Opera use SKYFIRE everyone knows its simply the best browser out there for Winmo fast with great flash video support silverlight, The OMNIA II also has 3d acceleration samsung something the first omnia didnt have since winmo has limited support no one has been able to see it working as the samsung touch wiz really doesnt use it either the Omnia II camera is way more advanced and higher quality than the Droid and photo quality doesnt even compare to Omnia i have tried both and can tell you Omnia II hands down has the best camera in the verizon lineup yea windows is quirky but the mutimedia features of this phone plus the typing swype interface add to an amazing hardware picture video sound winmo sync a breeze to use 8gig flash bulit in and u can add 16gig amoled display superior multimedia phone dont forget TV out to see that Xvid or DIVX video, and pictures on an hd TV via cable plug The droid feels cheap and flimsy crappy slider mechanism and flat keys theres no comparison droid is too limited to just fast page sliding and icons but doesnt reflect real world apps and video playback and sound its just all the hype behind droid and verizon sprung the bill for the tv spots not HTC with the fancy robot cgi and jets dropping them off samsung was never shown equal love by verizon power of tv media paid by Verizon is what launched Droids big sales if they showed off the Omina II screen and video playback people would have went gaga over it
16. rpotterfl (Posts: 1; Member since: 20 Feb 2010)
Came from WinMo 6.0 on a Motorola Q9m. I guess my expectations were too high. Here are my complaints: 1) I click to go to a new text and it sends me to the oldest text, not the newest text 2) Lag, lag, lag 3) Battery status disappeared and I couldn't get it back on the home screen 4) I have to unlock the phone to dismiss the morning alarm. WTF?!? 5) When I am on Bluetooth and I call into voicemail, the phone automatically locks, and I have to unlock the phone to put in my voice mail passcode 6) There are two different lock screens, one with a code and one without. They look totally different. The lock button activates the screen without the code. Useless. 7) Couldn't figure out how to scroll through emails to delete them without opening the email first. 8) Some emails were unviewable on the phone. Even my Q9m could view all non-HTML emails. 9) Phone autoresponded to an incoming call with a text response while in my pocket. And it was locked. 10) Phone voice dialed by itself from my pocket when locked. 11) Lock button on screen only works half the time. 12) Manual is woefully inadequate 13) Typing for me was twice as slow as on the Q9m. Swype was cool but still not as fast. 14) Can't use a screen protector on a resistive screen without losing significant responsiveness. 15) Incredibly small onscreen buttons REQUIRE the use of the stylus and two-handed operation 16) phone froze when I tried to send a photo by MMS. Had to take the battery out to unfreeze. 17) never could get a lock on the GPS. And you have to pay extra for VZ Navigator. 18) prompts you to pay for City ID. Have to pay extra for visual voice mail. 19) can't listen to ITunes podcasts or sync with ITunes. I know its not an IPhone, but that is the reality. 20) too often a program will open up while I am just trying to scroll through pages 21) didn't try SPB MobileShell, but why should I have to? 22) Hard to see the screen outdoors 23) Not the phone's fault, but Facebook app is weak. The pros: good camera with flash, good battery life, FM Radio, good display indoors, wi-fi, skype app I tried to like this phone for three weeks, but went back to my Q9m. It is an ancient phone, but at least it works. The Omnia II felt like a pre-Beta version to me. Maybe some of these issues could be reprogrammed but the manuals suck, and I couldn't figure out how to make the adjustments. Plus, the phone is simply slow. This would have been incredible technology five years ago, but I don't think it is competitive in this market. If you depend on your phone for business, I would not buy this phone, especially since I couldn't read a significant percentage of my emails. I prefer to stay with WinMo for the excellent Exchange sync, which includes Task syncing, so I guess I will live with my Q9m until I figure out what phone will actually be better for work.