Written on 2/08/2010 11:30:00 PM by poison_ivy
Okay, so I longed to review the Samsung Omnia Pro B7610 ever since it was first announced together with the Omnia 2. I loved the first Omnia and the only thing missing, for me, was a physical keyboard. When the Samsung B7610 was announced, I thought it was the answer to my prayers, so, was it? Read further.
Having owned the Motorola Milestone, everything seems to feel like a "brick". The Samsung B7610 does feel huge and heavy compared with the Milestone but the good thing is that it's slightly thinner and weighs a bit less than the Nokia N900. Every surface is also a fingerprint magnet from its 3.5 inch screen to the glossy red back. But what's great about the Omnia Pro is that Samsung didn't scrimp on its design. It's a brick alright, but its an elegant kind of brick, thanks to its metal-like highlights and brushed metal effect.
On top of the phone you can find the 3.5mm headset jack and the microUSB port. On the right is the screen lock button and the camera button, on the left is the volume rocker and the dedicated button for switching between the "work or life" homescreen. Unlike the i900 Omnia and the Omnia 2, the stylus doesn't come separately, instead, it is housed on the top right portion of the handset.
The sliding mechanism does give an assuring click when opened and closed, unlike the Milestone but the screen feels wobbly when opened. I hope that doesn't pose a problem in the long run. There's a four row QWERTY keyboard which is adequately spaced though sometimes feel flat. Good thing Sammy put in audio feedback for the keyboard as every press of the keypad, there's a resounding "click".
Overall, considering that the Samsung Omnia Pro B7610's thickness is standard in today's landscape QWERTY phones, I'd give it an A for effort in terms of design.
Like the Samsung Omnia 2, I'm a bit torn about its UI. In Winmo 6.5, touchwiz 2.0 is pretty much set in stone, meaning you can't turn it off without some sort of registry hack so this is a bit of a turn-off for winmo users who are all too familiar with the standard winmo ui. For first time winmo users, touchwiz 2.0 may come as a blessing because it makes the phone more user friendly.
The touchscreen is very responsive and kinetic scrolling is fluid. Of course, this is a windows mobile phone so occassional lags is expected. Although I must admit that the Samsung Omnia Pro seems much more laggy compared with the HTC Diamond2 and Touch Pro2.
The Samsung Omnia Pro B7610 comes not with one, two, nor three, but with FOUR homscreens. And I'm not just talking about homescreens with different wallpapers but TOTALLY different homscreens. First is the standard widget homescreen with the widget sidebar and three different screens to put your widgets on. This is called Samsung's "life" homescreen because its casual and can be customized according to the user's preference.
The second homescreen is the Samsung "work" homescreen because it is more suited for businessmen. The work homescreen is similar to the old winmo homescreen but more "pretty". You get a professional looking homescreen and shortcuts to your email, calendar, and connections.
The third one is the standard winmo 6.5 homescreen which is similar to zune. You get vertical panels with options which you can scroll through horizontally. It's pretty and simple.
The fourth one is the VERY OLD school windows mobile homescreen. It's ugly but long time pocket pc users will feel right at home.
Like the Blackberry, Windows Mobile is known for its messaging prowess. Setting up emails is as easy as entering your email address and password and the Samsung Omnia Pro does the rest. You can sync your Outlook contacts via Activesync or your work contacts and calendar via Exchange Server which the B7610 supports.
Threaded text messaging is supported although the text messaging application is one of the ugliest I've seen so far in smartphones. I hope Samsung remedies this in the future with updates. Trust me, Samsung, the combination of green, orange and black is unappealing to the eyes.
The onscreen keyboard is a joy to type on. I'm typing this review on the Samsung Omnia Pro B7610 using the onscreen keyboard and I've had more mistypes on the Milestone than on this handset. My only wish is that there's directional buttons on the onscreen keyboard as well so I can have the complete touchscreen experience.
The Samsung B7610 has a 3.5 inch AMOLED screen so colors are very vibrant. The phone supports DivX playback and watching a 356MB divX file is no problem and is like watching HD TV on your hand.
The music player is awesome and I like the coverflow like interface in landscape mode. Audio quality through the speakers is okay but gets tinny in high volumes. The included headset is okay and audio quality gets better if using the headset.
WEB BROWSER AND CONNECTIONS
The Samsung B7610 is HSDPA, WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth, and TV-Out, so connection is not an issue. It also comes with Samsung's DLNA technology which will allow you to connect with other products that has DLNA support (haven't tried it though).
You can choose to connect to the Internet via Internet Explorer or Opera Browser. Internet Explorer supports Flash but both browsers are considerably slow compared with the browser on the iPhone, Motorola Milestone and Nokia N900. However, the browser does its job if you have the patience to wait for pages to load.
So far so good. Battery life seems okay, will probably last 1 1/2 day. Right now, I still have 2 bars left but that's a good thing considering that I've used it extensively and even typed half of this review on this mobile phone.
The Samsung Omnia Pro B7610 has a 5 megapixel camera with autofocus and LED flash. The camera is faster than on the Milestone but I don't know whether its a software glitch or not but previewing photos on the mobile phone itself looks grainy. Anyways, here are some sample shots in low light conditions without flash, and in brighter areas, the mountain picture is the wallpaper on my monitor so the lines is not due to the camera but because the picture is taken from a monitor.
One of the problems I've encountered, aside from the standard WinMo interface being gone, is that it seems Samsung automatically closes some applications, thus rendering multitasking ineffective. Whenever I try to run the music player in the background while trying to access another application, the player automatically stops playing mid-song. Also, when I exit Internet Explorer to go to another application, instead of IE running in the background, it automatically closes when I try to return back to it via the task switcher. It would have been okay if IE, like the browser on Android, saves your previously visited page before closing but it takes you back to your homepage. I'm hoping there's a fix somewhere that I haven't seen. Will probably visit some forums soon.
If I haven't used the Motorola Milestone, I probably would be satisfied with the Samsung Omnia Pro B7610 but as it is, I've tried a lot of smartphones before this so it's mildly disappointing. No, it's not just Android vs. WinMo, I've had a better user experience on the Diamond2 and Pro2, maybe TouchWiz 2.0 over WinMo 6.5 without the option of turning it off just turned me off or maybe I'm getting tired of WinMo. Of course, I haven't had a chance of installing any custom ROMs so I'm not completely writing the Samsung Omnia Pro B7610 off. The Samsung B7610 does have a lot to offer.