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Samsung Omnia 7 GT-i8700 review

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Reviewed:

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Samsung Omnia 7 GT-i8700
  • Samsung Omnia 7 GT-i8700
  • Samsung Omnia 7 GT-i8700
  • Samsung Omnia 7 GT-i8700
  • Samsung Omnia 7 GT-i8700
  • Samsung Omnia 7 GT-i8700
  • Samsung Omnia 7 GT-i8700
  • Samsung Omnia 7 GT-i8700
  • Samsung Omnia 7 GT-i8700
  • Samsung Omnia 7 GT-i8700

Summary

Our Score:

8

As we pointed out in our review of the LG Optimus 7, Microsoft has stipulated that phone manufacturers creating devices based on its software cannot change the interface of Windows Phone 7, and there are pretty tight controls on hardware designs as well. As a result, the vast majority of Windows Phone 7 handsets are very similar. However, with its vibrant AMOLED screen, in particular, the Samsung Omnia 7 does enough to stand out from the crowd.

The Samsung Omnia 7 is a fairly elegant device thanks to a mostly clean front design and appealing taupe-coloured aluminium back. However, its squared corners, physical central button on the front, and slightly cluttered back means it isn't quite as sleek as the likes of the HTC HD7. Moreover, those pointy corners make it less comfortable to hold than some of the competition, and that aluminium back is incredibly slippery.

At least you won’t be worrying about your pocket lining carrying this phone around as at 138g, while not exactly featherweight, it’s none too hefty. With dimensions of 122.4 x 64.2 x 11 mm, it’s likewise large but not too large.

The metal battery cover unclips with a satisfying assuredness to reveal the SIM slot and 1500mAh battery. There is no microSD card, though. While Windows Phone 7 doesn't support hot swapping microSD cards – for easy file transfers – you can still add permanent extra storage (you just need to completely reset the phone and loose all your data) meaning you can potentially add up to 32GB of extra storage. This phone is available with 8GB or 16GB of onboard storage, which, if you're at all into your music and see yourself recording some HD video with the camera, we suggest you choose the latter of.

While the central Windows/Start button on the front of the phone may disrupt the sleek lines of the rest of the front (and be a blatant copy of the iPhone), it does have a practical purpose. For some reason, many handset/software designers seem to think people always use two hands to operate their phones so put the screen lock/power buttons out the way on the top edge or the side. If you're holding a phone one-handed, however, this isn't at all convenient. The physical Windows button solves this by allowing you to activate the screen while holding the phone in a comfortable position at the bottom with one hand.

The touch sensitive Back and Search buttons are responsive, and we actually found the combination of touch and physical buttons worked quite well (even given our general thoughts that both Back and Search shouldn’t require dedicated buttons with a well designed operating system).

The main power button is on the right-hand side, along with the immensely useful shutter button for the camera. However, there's a bit of a problem: the power button is very pronounced so is easy to press inadvertently. This isn't a problem on most phones as you generally have a confirmation screen to ask if you actually want to turn it off. However Windows Phone 7 doesn't ask permission before powering down so it's relatively easy to accidently turn off the Samsung Omnia 7 when in your pocket or a bag, even when the screen is locked.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut

Kaurisol

December 1, 2010, 2:29 pm

@Edward Chester - "you can still add permanent extra storage (you just need to completely reset the phone and loose all your data)"





Now that is the deal breaker as far as I'm concerned - even with 32GB on my N900 I still have multiple micro SD cards...

chromedome

December 1, 2010, 3:19 pm

@Edward Chester - " Moreover, while Windows Phone 7 is a slick operating system that will feel like a nice upgrade for users used to normal phones, for those used to the full gamut of capabilities available on alternative smartphones, it will feel too limiting."





Sorry, must disagree ;)


I have owned iPhone, Android and WM6.5 devices and I have to say that since owning my HD7 (sorry Omnia) for around a month I am not missing anything from previous OS's - that I would now call 'normal phones' - or find it limiting. Yes, I am looking forward to the forthcoming upgrade, but the WP7 is just such a breath of fresh air; so much so that I genuinely wouldn't even sniff at an iPhone now. The Office Hub - used daily - is just outstanding; I was about to stand and do a small presentation at a business meeting a couple of weeks ago, but a few minutes before I started I thought it might be good to present some figures from a spread sheet that wasn't on my WP7. I took all of 30secs to grab it from my Skydrive - limiting? Liberating is the word I would use!

rav

December 1, 2010, 3:48 pm

@Ed


Pretty sure that all Win Phones have to have 4 point multi touch as standard.





And enough with the button comments!!! :-)

Michael 2

December 1, 2010, 4:41 pm

I have this phone. I agree the aluminium is very mice but slippery to hold! It does feel a little awkward in the hand. Also, I've had this phone a little while now and I'm still constantly accidentally pressing the search and back buttons, they're too sensitive.





Finally, this phone is not orange exclusive, it's available from T-Mobile (ok, almost orange) and Three.

JohnH

December 1, 2010, 5:38 pm

Apparently there is no card slot in this phone. The memory is soldered so you can't upgrade it like you can with the HD7.





Also, maybe a personal preference, but I think the hardware back and search buttons are a godsend. Makes navigation so much quicker as does context sensitive search once you're in the habit.

enigmatic2u

December 1, 2010, 5:43 pm

I got this phone on T-Mobile (30pm 18month contract - didnt pay for the phone plus got 5 months half price), I have to say that this phone is much better than the ratings you are giving it!


It feels great to use, simple and effective. The apps list is growing and with the new updates from MS coming soon, it can only get better. I compared it to the HTC HD7, the screen colours/resolution is so much better on the Omnia!


I also don't have the problem with the phone being slippery, maybe I simply have a tighter grip!? :)

JayC

December 1, 2010, 6:04 pm

"One final consideration is that this phone is exclusive to Orange" - That's odd as mine came from T-Mobile. Are you saying they broke exclusivity deals? ;-)





I feel there is some obvious bias in this review (as with nearly all articles about WP7 on TR, shame you can't get someone that has chosen a WP7 as a daily device to give a little more balance) and I'm bored of reading "no copy/paste, multitasking" comments in reviews. Yes it should have it and yes it will have it so shut up about it already, after all WP7 isn't the first OS to launch without these. How long did it take iOS to get these? If rumours are true WP7 will have them by early 2011.





I do have to agree with the comment about the Omnia 7 being "slippy" as I've nearly dropped mine on a few occasions already. That said, I've not turned mine off accidentally but the buttons are easy to catch although this hasn't bothered me. WP7 is a V1 mobile OS but in contrast with Windows Mobile it is a solid foundation and will only get better.





The one thing not mentioned here is I've got issues with the headphone socket in that the slightest movement of the jack causes playback to stop which I believe is related to the jack losing contact (I'm thinking the OS is designed to pause when the headphone jack is removed). Really annoying when it's in your pocket!

Jay4d0

December 2, 2010, 1:54 am

@Kaurisol: windows phone 7 is very particular on which SD card will work mainly because it requires a very high read/write cycle.


it also uses SD cards for one of their main functions ie Secure Digital, where everything on the SD card and the whole SD card is entirely encrypted to only that one phone (it makes it immensely secure if you loose your phone or SD card) infact it is so secure that most OSs have been written to not even use this 'industry standard' of SD cards and for you to be able to use that SD card again (after it has been encrypted in WP7) you have to put the SD card in a symbian phone, people say it is an old OS but at least it does things properly!

weirdwilli

December 2, 2010, 2:03 am

Got my Omnia 7 yesterday from Orange (£150 up front, and £80 cashback from Quidco, then £17.50 a month) and absolutely love it.


Coming from a 1st gen iPhone, then a Desire I can say it's my favourite so far. The OS feels incredibly polished, even if various features are missing. The transitions are just brilliant, making the phone feel very slick and speedy, even if loading times are slightly slower than my Desire regarding web browsing.





The lack of pull down notification bar, and a menu button are proving difficult to live without, these were easily my favourite features from Android, but the WP7 UI is really sleek to the point where there are little to no options on many applications and everything is seemingly done behind the scenes. This can be thought as being bad in some respects, but it really makes everything far more intuitive.





My dad picked the phone up to take a look at it and was actually able to use it for basic functions, while he can hardly use Windows, or his aged £10 Nokia dumbphone.





Design is fantastic also, sleek and minimalist, while it's a bit big coming from the Desire the screen is simply amazing, although the material is a little slippy.

Midnight-Alchemist

December 2, 2010, 5:11 pm

Hi Ed,


The video review was excellent I thought. I liked the description of the headset too, often over looked! Will you be doing a video review of the Nokia N8?





Personally I think the phone looks fugly. In every way. Brick like, ugly colours, too 'busy' on the back, just to name a few.





I'm not toooo worried about the lack of multitasking and cut'n'paste as they will come soon enough via a firmware upgrade. However, it's silly a phone in 2010 doesn't have it already as standard. It's no excuse to say "Well the other OS's didn't have it either at first" - they didn't come out in 2010, nor did they have other OS's to benchmark themselves on ...WP has had a chance to have a good look at competition.

JohnH

December 2, 2010, 7:34 pm

@Midnight-Alchemist - I think you're wrong. If you look at the iPhone compared to old fashioned WinMo it was missing loads of features (including multitasking and C&P) for years. Didn't stop people buying it or enjoying it. Or look at it another way, WinMo phones had all the features but that didn't stop people deserting it.





Despite the limitations of WP7 it's such good fun. I'm looking forward to the updates but am also a happy customer right now.

Ed

December 2, 2010, 7:39 pm

@JohnH: you're missing the fact that the iPhone got away with lacking features because it brought other stuff to the table like vastly better usability. WinPhone7 can't really claim that as it doesn't do anything better, just differently.

JohnH

December 2, 2010, 8:21 pm

@Ed - I disagree. I'd say that in many ways WP7 is better. I think it’s a leap forward from the other options. A small and tentative one perhaps but it is a game changer.





Sure, there's some subjectivity involved but as JayC noted there's also a load of bias in tech writing on WP7. I'm not necessarily accusing you of that but maybe there's also some 'preference for the familiar' going on.





For example - "Back and Search shouldn’t require dedicated buttons with a well designed operating system". I'd say a well designed operating system shouldn't require two hands to use or for you to stretch your thumb to the most inconvenient place on the iPhone screen (top left hand corner) to go back.

ffrankmccaffery

December 3, 2010, 2:24 am

Adding to what JohnH has already noted, not only is the 'Back' button in iOS in an awkward position for a right handed user but also inconsistently laid out on the bottom left hand corner in Safari. Having the most widely used button in not only in a single location but also in a physical incarnation too is comforting to new and experienced users alike.

Hugo

December 3, 2010, 2:28 am

I might argue that a well designed operating system should allow you to return to the browser, and use the back button to return to the previous page, not drop you in to the main menu again. Or that a hardware search button should either be always context sensitive, or always take you to a web search, not vary between the two. Or that in 2010, multitasking should be a basic funtion of the OS. There's a lot to like about WP7, but it still needs a lot of work.





Mind you, having played with it for a few days I reckon that the Omnia 7 would be my replacement device if I was told I had to give up my iPhone.

JohnH

December 3, 2010, 4:16 pm

@Hugo. I agree about the back button when switching to IE. That's needs fixing.





The search button behaviour is fine by me given the current feature set. It's consistent in that if there is a context sensitive search option it does that, if there's no option to search it goes to Bing. The real problem is that you can't do things like search your SMS messages so pressing search in messaging takes you to Bing. That’s not the fault of the hardware button or the way the OS handles search button presses it's a missing OS feature.





MS have said that they plan to under promise and over deliver with updates so I'm hoping a lot of missing features will get added quickly. Most people will be on two year contracts with these phones so that's a lot of time to roll out lots of jam.

chromedome

December 3, 2010, 11:16 pm

I know this is my 2nd comment, but the slickness of the business side of WP7 is so very good. I use MS Business Contact Manager on my PC. If I create a new business contact in Outlook, from the time it is entered to picking up my WP7 the new contact is already on the mobile. WP7 is a real 'all-rounder' that deserves more positives than it is given credit for...

nauman

September 10, 2013, 12:10 pm

i have samsung omnia7 i8700 mobile butt i not use 4 or 5 mint automatic play mobiles video can you help me how is off this video

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