The Samsung Omnia 7 is a Microsoft Windows Phone 7 smartphone featuring an impressive 4in Super AMOLED display. Updated, 31 March 2011

Samsung holds the distinction of designing the flagship handsets in both the Android and Windows Phone 7 camps. The Galaxy S was used as the basis of the Google Nexus S, while the Samsung Omnia 7 is the most attractive of the Microsoft-based models. It’s also the brightest, sporting a 4in SuperAmoLED display.

Available on contract from Orange or 3, the Samsung Omnia 7 tips the scales at 138g, but feels heavier. This is perhaps due to its tough aluminium casing. However, it’s a scant 11mm thick (a smidgen less than the LG Optimus 7). It’s 64mm across - broader than we’d like; we found it difficult to clasp.

HTC calls the screen on its Desire HD handset ‘cinematic’, and we can only describe the Omnia 7 in similar terms. When you power it on, the opening page is even in suitably Art Deco lettering. Since the display is so bright anyway, it’s a relief to find the Windows Phone OS tiles rendered in a fairly muted blue. Whereas some of the other Windows-based phones impose their own take on how the OS should behave, Samsung has let the hardware do the talking.

Given the visual credentials, it’s no surprise to find photos almost supernaturally lifelike, while the 1GHz dual-core processor ensures smooth video playback. Unusually, the Samsung supports 25fps video recording as well as Mpeg, H.264, H.263 and WMV.

Although there’s no promise of Dolby Mobile audio enhancements, the Omnia 7 offers a pleasing entertainment setup. It boasts a pair of speakers, Bluetooth 2.1, an FM radio, 3.5mm audio jack and the Zune Wi-Fi media-sharing feature that’s native to the OS.

With these aural credentials, we were in little doubt that call volume and clarity would pass muster. The heavyweight physical build of this device seems to give extra throatiness to music playback and more depth to the spoken word.

Slightly less impressive is the 5Mp camera, but only because the 8Mp LG impressed us so much. You do, however, get a dedicated camera hardware button: something we missed on many of its rivals. 

Next page: Our original review of the Samsung Omnia 7, from October 2010 >>

The Samsung Omnia 7 is a Microsoft Windows Phone 7 smartphone. This is our original review of the Samsung Omnia 7, by PC World Australia's Ross Catanzariti

Featuring an impressive 4in Super AMOLED display, the Omnia 7's screen and excellent industrial design makes it the most attractive Windows Phone 7 mobile phone at launch, but the limited 8GB of internal memory is a disappointment.

Unlike previous Windows Mobile devices, all new Windows Phone 7 smartphones are forced to meet strict hardware requirements. These include a capacitive, multitouch display with a minimum 800x480 resolution, a 1GHz or better processor, at least 256MB of RAM, a minimum of 8GB of internal storage, and a GPS receiver. All Windows Phone 7 devices must also have an accelerometer and digital compass, an ambient light sensor, a 5Mp camera or better, an FM radio and seven physical buttons (back, Start, search, camera, power/lock, volume up/down).

These requirements make all Windows Phone 7 devices eerily similar to use and means that physical design is the main differentiator between models. The Samsung Omnia 7 is an excellent example of a phone that sets itself apart from competitors thanks to a thin and stylish design. Its brushed metallic body borrows aspects of the Samsung Wave's design. The phone feels like a premium product: it's sturdy and well constructed.

We were impressed with some of the small touches, including the super-responsive, touch-sensitive back and search keys, while the physical Start button has a more reassuring click than Apple's iPhone 4, even if it is slightly smaller. We also liked the sliding micro-USB port cover and the chrome ring surrounding the headphone jack, though the lack of camera lens cover could be an issue in the long run, as the lens sits almost flush with the back of the phone. The rear battery cover snaps on and off with ease, clicks firmly into place when closed and does not rattle or creak when pressed.

Even more impressive than the Omnia 7's design is the 4in Super AMOLED display. The same technology used on the popular Samsung Galaxy S, the Omnia 7's display is one of the best on the market and without doubt the best screen on any first-generation Windows Phone 7 handset. Like the display on Galaxy S, it is bright, crisp and clear, and its performance in direct sunlight is exceptionally good. It also does a great job rendering text, with no visible aberrations even when zoomed in. Viewing angles are also excellent; the screen can clearly be viewed even if you're at an almost 90-degree angle from it, and there is no colour shift when viewing the display from off-centre. The large display is especially welcome for Web browsing and messaging; the extra screen space makes it easy to zoom in and out of web pages, and it means the on-screen keyboard is slightly roomier.

Apart from different designs, the other main differences between Windows Phone 7 handsets are the quality of the camera and any extra software that's included. The Omnia 7 comes with Samsung's "Now" hub, providing basic weather, news and stocks information. Strangely, the weather isn't location-based, so it won't automatically update as you move, and there is no option to add Australian news. Much more useful is Samsung's photo-sharing application, allowing you to upload snaps to a number of social-networking sites including Facebook, Flickr, Friendster, MySpace, Photobucket and Picasa. You can save log-ins to all of these sources and quickly upload photos, though you can only upload a single image at a time.

The Samsung Omnia 7 only meets the minimum specifications required for a Windows Phone 7 camera: 5-megapixels, a single LED flash, 720p video recording and a physical camera button. The neat UI is the same one used across all Windows Phone 7 devices. The Omnia 7 produces still photos with good colour reproduction, excellent detail and minimal noise. Video recording is a little disappointing; it's hard to keep things steady and footage did appear choppy on occasion.

The Samsung Omnia 7 includes a disappointing 8GB of internal memory, and there is no microSD card slot for extra storage. We expected at least 16GB of storage on a device without a memory card slot. Battery life is about what we have come to expect from a smartphone - the Omnia 7 will quickly run out of juice if you use it frequently but should last a full day. For better battery life, we recommend turning off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when not in use, keeping the screen brightness down and setting push email and account updates (Facebook, Google, Windows Live, Outlook) to manual.

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NEXT: our expert verdict >>

Samsung Omnia 7: Specs

  • Qualcomm 8250 SnapDragon, 1Ghz
  • 1500 mAh battery
  • 800 x 480 pixels/4in Touch Sensitive (Capactive) Super AMOLED
  • 5 mega-pixels (auto-focus), 3x Digital Zoom, LED Flash
  • Recording Resolution: HD (720p), Recording Speed: 25fps, Video Zoom
  • LED Video Light
  • MP4, 3GP, DivX, XviD
  • MP3, AAC, eAAC+ & WMA
  • FM Radio (RDS)
  • SMS, MMS (with video), Email (POP3, IMAP4, Exchange)
  • 8GB (internal) 2G: 850/900/1800/1900 Mhz (Quadband)
  • 3G: 900/1900/2100 (Tri-band)
  • WiFi (802.11 b/g/n)
  • HSDPA (5.76.6Mbps)
  • HSUPA (3.6 Mbps)
  • Bluetooth (2.1)
  • microUSB
  • 3.5mm Audio Connector
  • AGPS
  • Digital Compass
  • Bing Maps
  • Accelerometer, Proximity Sensor, Light Sensor, Features: Web Browser
  • Office Document Editing (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
  • 138g
  • 64x122x11mm
  • Qualcomm 8250 SnapDragon, 1Ghz
  • 1500 mAh battery
  • 800 x 480 pixels/4in Touch Sensitive (Capactive) Super AMOLED
  • 5 mega-pixels (auto-focus), 3x Digital Zoom, LED Flash
  • Recording Resolution: HD (720p), Recording Speed: 25fps, Video Zoom
  • LED Video Light
  • MP4, 3GP, DivX, XviD
  • MP3, AAC, eAAC+ & WMA
  • FM Radio (RDS)
  • SMS, MMS (with video), Email (POP3, IMAP4, Exchange)
  • 8GB (internal) 2G: 850/900/1800/1900 Mhz (Quadband)
  • 3G: 900/1900/2100 (Tri-band)
  • WiFi (802.11 b/g/n)
  • HSDPA (5.76.6Mbps)
  • HSUPA (3.6 Mbps)
  • Bluetooth (2.1)
  • microUSB
  • 3.5mm Audio Connector
  • AGPS
  • Digital Compass
  • Bing Maps
  • Accelerometer, Proximity Sensor, Light Sensor, Features: Web Browser
  • Office Document Editing (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
  • 138g
  • 64x122x11mm

OUR VERDICT

A fantastic-looking Windows-based smartphone we’d be proud to pull out our jacket pocket, the Samsung Omnia 7 shows just how good photos and videos can appear. Although it’s slightly larger than we’d like, it’s only the underwhelming camera that prevented us awarding the Samsung the crown in this category.

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