Our apathy towards the original Samsung Omnia is infamous, my outright disdain legendary - so what do we make of this...
Samsung is dropping the 'Omnia' name from its spec-tactular OmniaHD handset with what is believed to be just weeks before commercial release. The new name will be the rather more plain 'i8910' - a strange move considering the Korean giant had spent a huge wad of advertising cash promoting the brand. Why the alteration? According to a Samsung statement:
"To avoid confusion between the original Omnia, which is Windows Mobile, and OmniaHD, which is Symbian, Samsung is deferring to the model number."
Do we buy this? Hmmmn, not really. You see the problem lies not with the OmniaHD/i8910 but the original Omnia (i900). It was a spec monster which in a side-by-side comparison left the Apple iPhone not so much with a bloody nose but on life support hearing its last rights. The problem was you only had to spend 10 minutes using the laggy Windows Mobile based OS and the whole device imploded. At the time an anonymous source told us the Omnia had the highest return rate of any handset in the store - but obviously we can't verify that.
Then in steps the OmniaHD, it's even more spec-tastic with a 3.7in AMOLED 16:9 360 x 640 pixel display, playback and capture of 720p video at 24fps. HSUPA, WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth, a choice of 8GB or 16GB of storage plus a microSDHC expansion slot and an eight megapixel camera with autofocus, flash and smile detection. There's native DivX/Xvid playback, an FM tuner, video editing and even reasonable dimensions of 123 x 58 x 12.9mm.
On paper it's a knock-out and it has swapped out the Windows Mobile core for Symbian. Now some reports suggest the handset still suffers from all the clunky, laggy UI issues of its predecessor (I wasn't overly impressed during my hands-on) but that was beta software so we're not going to judge (iPhone OS 3.0 is like treacle too). In short then I suspect the name change is because the original Omnia sucked and Samsung is looking to break the association (albeit following a rather late realisation). Furthermore, the similarly named i8510 is a cracking handset which has done wonderfully well and deserves to.
Either way, what's done is done and let's hope with the OmniaHD i8910 Samsung has finally crafted a smartphone to give the iPhone nightmares...