The Omnia Pro B7610 is Samsung’s latest Windows Mobile powered smartphone and it aims to impress with its slide out QWERTY keyboard, 5.0 megapixel camera and OLED screen.
First impressions of the Omnia Pro are unfortunately not all that favourable. Handsets that sport slide out keyboards are always a bit fatter than usual, but even by these standards the Pro feels very chunky, despite its dimensions of 112.6 x 57.8 x 16.2 mm making it slightly smaller than the its largest rivals like the HTC Touch Pro2. At least Samsung has kept the front of the phone looking pretty clean as it’s graced by just two call buttons and a smile-shaped home key. There’s also an interesting wavy reflective pattern on the rear battery cover that only becomes visible when the light catches it at a certain angle. Nevertheless, we can’t help feeling that the look and feel of the phone is rather dated.
The handset’s largish 3.5inch screen initially seems quite impressive. It’s got a sharp resolution of 800 x 480 pixels and uses Organic LED technology rather than the more common LCD type. This helps it deliver really inky black levels that are much deeper than those that most LCD displays can conjure up. Colours are impressive too, as when the screen is viewed indoors they look very bright and vivid. As with all OLED displays it struggles a little bit when used outdoors, but in this department it’s not nearly as bad as some others we’ve seen.
The big problem with the screen, however, is its sluggishness when responding to touch input. It uses resistive rather than the capacitive technology found on newer handsets like the HTC Legend. And even by resistive standards the screen is rather slow to register finger presses. As a result you often find yourself poking at the display a number of times to get it to respond.
At least the Omnia Pro’s slide out keyboard means you don’t have to rely on the onscreen one for text entry – a thought that sends shivers down ones spine. The sliding mechanism for the keyboard is quite smooth and it feels quite sturdy too. It lacks the tilt mechanism found on HTC’s Touch Pro2, but as the keys are arranged over four rather than five rows they’re a little bit larger than those on HTC’s model. However, this does mean that you have to access numbers on the top row by pressing the Alt key first. Also there’s no space between the individual keys so it’s easy to hit an adjacent one by mistake when you’re quickly tapping out an email or text message. Overall, though, we think keyboard is actually rather good as the keys have a decent amount of travel and feel quite comfortable to type on.
As with previous Omnia handsets, this one is based around Microsoft’s Windows Phone (aka Windows Mobile 6.5) operating system. Windows Phone has a slightly better user interface than previous versions of Windows Mobile, but it’s still a long way from the slickness of the iPhone or even the latest version of Android. Perhaps because of this, Samsung has slapped it’s own Touchwiz interface over the top.
Touchwiz presents you with three home screens onto which you can drag a number of widgets for stuff like the FM radio, digital clock and weather forecasts. Touchwiz also adds a new main menu screen and a neat feature where you can quickly switch between work and leisure home screens using the W&L buttons on the left hand side of the phone. Nevertheless, we don’t think the combination of Windows Phone and Touchwiz gels all that well as there are still times when you find yourself being shunted back and forth between the between the two and the disparity between the different design approaches and menu layouts is a bit jarring and makes the phone quite cumbersome to use.
Also, performance wise the phone is a disappointment as it feels quite sluggish in general use. For example, when you swipe back and forth to move between the Touchwiz home screens the handset is slow to redraw the widgets you’ve got placed on each screen. It also takes an age to swap between portrait and landscape modes when you flip open the keyboard and moving through menus can some times feel like wading through a treacle marsh. This is somewhat surprising as the phone uses a relatively fast 800Mhz processor and 256MB of RAM, but we guess the combination of running Touchwiz over the top of Windows Mobile is just asking a little too much of the hardware.
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