Samsung's Omnia II smart phone works but lacks punch

Jan 08, 2010 By Victor Godinez
Samsung's Omnia II

The Samsung Omnia II smart phone with Windows Mobile 6.5 on Verizon Wireless is as dependable and exciting as a McDonald's burger.

You know what you're getting, it fills a need and it's sort of tasty if you don't expect too much.

But when you glance over and see your neighbor gorging on a Motorola Droid on the same network, you're going to feel a rumble of indigestion.

Omnia II's failings have nothing to do with its excellent hardware.

Rather, the sour taste is due to the clunky and cumbersome operating system that tries valiantly to conceal.

The most impressive feature of the Omnia II is the screen.

At 3.7 inches, it's a bit larger than the iPhone's 3.5-inch screen and equal in size to the Droid's, and the resolution is just a hair below that of the Droid (800x480 vs. 854x480).

The Omnia II is bright, sharp and easy to look at. The large screen makes it simple to view expansive Web pages and scan numerous e-mails at a time (after you shrink down the oversize default font).

The 5-megapixel camera is among the best you'll find on a phone, and it even shoots passable video.

From there, though, navigating the software is a chore. The default Windows Mobile interface (even the latest 6.5 model) is an anachronism, aimed at the PDA market of five years ago, when a stylus was acceptable for interacting with a .

But the iPhone made finger-based systems standard, and Samsung tried to give WinMo 6.5 a face lift with its proprietary TouchWiz 2.0 interface.

The upgrade mostly works, but it feels inconsistent and, in some cases, pointless.

For example, to access various entertainment and media apps on the phone, Samsung has created a rotating 3D cube that you spin with your finger.

Each side of the cube is the start button for games or photos or videos.

But the interface is jerky and responds to only about half of your finger gestures, and basically just makes everything take a couple seconds longer than it should.

Fortunately, you don't have to use the cube. But it's an unnecessary and annoying innovation.

Also, exiting programs and going back a screen is often frustrating. Sometimes there's a little "x" in the upper right corner that you have to tap to go back. But the x is so small you almost have to use the stylus.

Finally, the screen itself (based on older resistive technology rather than capacitive surfaces found in the iPhone, Droid, Palm Pre and other high-end ) occasionally doesn't register finger swipes at all.

It's like zooming along in a sports car with an invisible ghost occasionally stepping on the brakes.

If you really have to be on a Windows Mobile device, Omnia II is probably your best choice.

But if you have freedom to pick your own phone on Verizon's network, the identically priced and much more intuitive and elegant Droid goes down much easier.

Pros: The Samsung Omnia II is a great piece of hardware, with a superb display and excellent camera. The TouchWiz 2.0 interface mostly masks the stench of WinMo 6.5.

Cons: TouchWiz 2.0 is better than WinMo, but not competitive with the latest versions of , Android and webOS mobile operating systems.

Bottom line: The Omnia II feels like a good phone that's not good enough to merit its $199 price (with two-year contract). I'd love to see what Samsung could do with Google's Android OS.

Explore further: GoPro gets a little cheaper —and fancier —with new Hero4 camera

5 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Microsoft Announces Windows Mobile 6.5

Feb 17, 2009

( -- At the Mobile World Congress 2009 in Barcelona, Microsoft officially revealed the new Windows phones featuring new user-friendly software and services. The next generation of Windows phones ...

Samsung Unveils Revolutionary Ultra Smart F700

Feb 08, 2007

Samsung today announced a new addition to its Ultra portfolio with the introduction of Ultra Smart F700. This revolutionary mobile phone will be showcased at 3GSM World Congress, the largest telecommunications ...

Recommended for you

China clears way for Apple iPhone 6 sales

3 hours ago

China has cleared the way for Apple to sell its latest iPhones in the key market by granting it a licence, the industry regulator said on Tuesday, after the US giant agreed to improve the security of users' ...

A Closer Look: Stream-box gaming is a mixed bag

18 hours ago

As gaming consoles such as the Xbox and the PlayStation diversify into video, social media and other non-gaming apps, it seems only fair that streaming TV devices start nudging into gaming territory.

Turkey's Erdogan dismisses new iPhone: 'Same as the last'

Sep 28, 2014

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, known for his hostility to social networks and mobile technology, on Sunday brushed off the frenzy surrounding Apple's new iPhone 6, saying it was much the same as its iPhone 5 predecessor.

IT student seeks to help mitigate risks of Google Glass

Sep 26, 2014

As online data breaches continue to challenge companies' and consumers' trust in cybersecurity, UC information-technology major Marina Grebenshchikova is exploring the risks associated with ever-evolving ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Jan 08, 2010
I think Mr Godinez needs to do some research. The HTC HD2 beats this and others, hands down.

But then, I suppose it isn't available in the US. But over here in the UK it's blazing a trail!