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Samsung Omnia review

I didn’t have a phone and needed one to demo Opera Mobile and Opera Mini, so decided to get the sexy Samsung Omnia.

I took a while to get hold of; they’d all been sent back to Samsung, one operator said, because of software problems. I perservered, and eventually got one. It costs £35 a month with 600 minutes of talk, 250 texts, free landline calls, and free data (fair-use policy applies). The shop promised me free satnav, but Vodafone then told me that wasn’t the case.

It’s a nice shape; it feels robust and sturdy. The screen is nice and big, responsive to the touch and sound quality is good. But despite its excellent specs, I haven’t been able to get 100% comfortable with using it. I don’t hate it; it’s a very useful and versatile beast, but I can’t get to love it. Elliott Kember (of Carsonified) showed me what the problems were: basically, the problems are down to Windows Mobile.

I’ve never owned a Smartphone before, so Elliott put his iPhone and my Omina next to each other and we compared them. Now, I wouldn’t have an iPhone; the price, the low specs and the fact that I can’t have the browser I want rule it out for me. But it’s undeniably a much better user interface than the Omina.

For example, when entering a new contact, the iPhone switches automatically to the numeric keypad for entering a number, and to the text keypad when you enter a name. This is obviously the correct behaviour, whereas the Omnia defaults to the text keypad, meaning there’s an entirely spurious step of selecting the numeric keypad. What a waste of time.

There’s also the annoyance that when you’re speaking, the keyboard locks and if you need access to the keypad during a conversation (to select a menu item on an automated “triage” phone system, for example) you have two keystrokes to make before you enter your selection. I know that this can be changed using some options, but proper testing with real people would have resulted in better defaults.

Opera is great on the Omnia; it’s responsive and renders perfectly. But the rest of the machine doesn’t feel 100% right to me—and I’m a Windows user.

The user experience of the iPhone is very good, and applications like AirMe, which upload straight from your camera to Flickr are just the way I think software should be (although that one isn’t made by Apple, ironically). But the fact that you can’t choose a wallpaper, a ring tone, a carrier or a browser spoil it.

So there still isn’t a phone perfect for me. Perhaps I should have done as Stuart Langridge suggested and wait for a phone that can run Opera Mini on Android.

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8 Responses to “ Samsung Omnia review ”

Comment by patrick h. lauke

small correction regarding the iphone:

you can change ring tones, it’s just not that easy anymore. you used to be able to select any non-drm’d song in your library in itunes, and select a 45 second portion of it as a ringtone. now, apple seem to have removed this (though it’s still easy to do if you know how – see my little flickr screenshot), as they want you instead to buy ringtones from the itunes store

what you CAN’T change on the iphone are the system sounds for things like incoming text messages and such. you can only choose from some naff presets. this was the one reason why i decided to jailbreak my phone (so i can sftp into it and replace a system soundfile with one of my own creation…how mad is that?)

also, you can choose wallpapers or your own photos, but these don’t show behind your normal menu. the only time you see it is when the phone is locked and you want to unlock it. lame…very lame…

for the rest, spot on. some of the ui on the iphone is super slick (though strangely inconsistent between applications…comparing the sms and email client, simple things like the edit and new message buttons are in completely different places when really both apps perform similar duties). and the fact that apple can choose to simply lock you into a single mobile phone supplier is anticompetitive (and in fact countries like belgium don’t allow it…iphones there have to be sold “untethered” and customers can choose any 3G network they fancy).

Comment by Davie glasgow

I also have a samsung omnia and have bluetothed a song but cant seem to use it for a ringtone….can anyone help me?

Much appreciated


Comment by Brian Pitt

I have been a high end user of mobile phones in Australia for nearly twenty years.My samsung omnia is without question the worst, slowest,idiotic,time wasting phone I have had the misfortune to be contracted to.But not for long, as one month is more than enough time to become acclimatized to any phone. It’s just an ill-conceived mess. Hello….Ebay.

Comment by Lynn Holdsworth

Bruce, isn’t the Omnia a Symbian phone? My old man has bought one and raves incessantly about the excellent picture quality. He’s not so impressed with the GPS receiver, which can take anything up to 20 minutes to come to life. But he loves the phone. I still prefer the iPhone with its built-in screenreader, although I haven’t got one as I refuse to be locked into O2. Horses for courses and all that.

Comment by logan

love this phone, great touch screen. upgraded from the iphone contrary to popular opinion. got 3 off of and another one off of ebay. made for great xmas presents a few weeks ago. very responsive and i love the processor, and the camera is incredible! very happy

Comment by logan

good review. like our new omnia. it’s a great unlocked gsm phones. faster processor, better email and browser for my business. got my last few for me and my coworkers and we love them. the apps keep us busy and the games keep us busy when were chillin. great unlocked phones for the gps really helps us get around. camera and recorder are great for my family can check out all the family moments when i come home every week. my daughter likes hers for the facebook and apps she is on it like all day. much better than the unlocked blackberry phones we used to have. touch screen is responsive and texting is easy for a touch screen. it’s practical and feels good against my face. got our last couple unlocked mobile phones at and we love them. 2 thumbs way up

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