Samsung i8910 Omnia HD Review

Abdullah Saad
Posted Sep 28, 2009
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My dear friends, we are at the very edge of cell phone evolution here. No longer are these tiny cute little devices are being used only for making calls and sending text messages. We now carry within our pockets, the ability to run business on the go, be connected to the world, and hence, create endless possibilities. This age is the age of multimedia i.e., not just being able to run flash in a MMS!

What I am going to review today is built by Samsung. Samsung has an innovative timeline
from the very beginning and they are intent to extend further way into the future. Some patent features such as AMOLED (AMO-LED) are one of a kind, yet to be replicated material!

The cell phone on the table is Samsung i8910 Omnia HD or simply, Omnia HD. Usually the question comes to mind that what can Omnia HD do? Well, rephrase it: What it CANNOT do. In addition, there is not reply to that, by the way. Here is a list of specs:

General 2G Network GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
3G Network HSDPA 900 / 1900 / 2100
Announced 2009, February
Status Available. Released 2009, May
Size Dimension 123 x 59 x 12.9 mm
Weight 148 g
Display Type AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
Size 360 x 640 pixels, 3.7 inches
– Accelerometer sensor
– Proximity sensor for auto turn-off
– Scratch-resistant surface
Sound Alert Types Vibration; Downloadable polyphonic, MP3, WAV ringtones
Speakerphone Yes, with stereo speakers
– 3.5 mm audio jack
– DNSe 2.0 (Digital Natural Sound Engine)
– Virtual 5.1 channel Dolby surround
Memory Phonebook Practically unlimited entries and fields, Photo call, Photo Contact
Call Records Practically unlimited
Internal 8 GB/16 GB storage, 256 MB RAM
Card Slot microSD (TransFlash) (up to 16GB)
Data GPRS Class 12 (4+1/3+2/2+3/1+4 slots), 32 – 48 kbps
HSCSD Yes
EDGE Class 12
3G HSDPA, 7.2 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.76 Mbps
WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g, DLNA
Bluetooth Yes, v2.0 with A2DP
Infrared Port No
USB Yes, v2.0, microUSB
Camera Primary 8 MP, 3264×2448 pixels, autofocus, LED flash
Features Geo-tagging, face, smile and blink detection, image stabilization, wide dynamic range, ISO 1600
Video Yes, HD 720p@24fps, D1 (720×480 pixels)@30fps, QVGA time-lapse and slow-mo video recording
Secondary CIF videocall camera
Features OS Symbian OS v9.4 Series 60, Release 5
CPU ARM Cortex A8 600 MHz, PowerVR SGX graphics
Messaging SMS, MMS, Email, IM
Browser WAP 2.0/xHTML, HTML, Opera 9.5, RSS reader
Radio Stereo FM radio with RDS
Games Asphalt 4 HD, incl. motion-based + downloadable
Colors Black
GPS Yes, with A-GPS support
Java Yes, MIDP 2.0
– Digital compass
– AVI(DiVX/XviD)/WMV/RV/MP4/3GP video player
– MP3/WMA/WAV/RA/AAC/M4A music player
– Organizer
– TV-out (for SD content only)
– Turn-to-mute
– Document viewer (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF)
– Voice memo
Battery Type Standard battery, Li-Ion 1500 mAh
Stand-By Up to 430 h (2G) / Up to 450 h (3G)
Talk Time Up to10 h (2G) / Up to 6 h 30 min (3G)

Omnia HD comes with a history. It was originally released late in May 2009 but was withdrawn shortly afterwards. We also got our hands on that version and, despite what others might think, I was damn impressed. There were reports of unstable software that was causing all sorts of mayhem but Samsung quickly fixed and Omnia HD went to shelves good and proper.

Un-boxing the Omnia HD

Omnia HD BoxOmnia HD Box

For an uber-gadget, the Omnia HD comes packed with modesty in mind. The snap says it all. The Only unexpected thing that might catch your eye is the TV-Out cable that shares the 3.5mm jack with the headphones.

Omnia HD OpenedOmnia HD Opened

Dimensions and Design

  • Height: 123 mm
  • Width: 59 mm
  • Thickness: 12.9 mm

Clearly, this is not going into your pant pockets. Omnia HD is a big phone. In addition, it is so because that is what happens when you try to put everything in a cell phone.

The front of the device is a huge shinny 3.7″ 16M Colors AMOLED capacitive 360×640 pixels touchscreen. This screen is comparable to Nokia 5800 as pixels are same but technology differs. Nokia 5800 is resistive instead of capacitive. Since both devices run on Symbian 60-Fifth Edition, this creates an interesting contrast. Omnia HD is extremely sensitive and very enjoyable and pleasant to use. However, Omnia HD is only operated by fingers or a few rare capacitive styluses out there.

Omnia HD AMOLED

AMOLED technology does give the Omnia HD an edge over Nokia 5800 and Nokia N97. All three have a big 360×640 pixels screen but Omnia HD’s is brighter, sharper and with vivid colors.

Other then the screen, we see the secondary camera or more commonly known as video-call cam. In addition, there is the proximity sensor that is used for locking the display during calls so that accidental presses when holding the phone next to your cheek are avoided. This also saves battery a little as well.

Omnia HD Front Top

Toward the bottom, there are three hardware buttons: Accept/Reject Call and Menu.

Omnia HD Front Bottom

Proceeding to the sides, right first, we have the Hold key (to lock/unlock the touchscreen), the camera key, and the microUSB port.

Omnia HD Right

Onto the left side, we find the perfect volume rocker. Next to it, the hot swappable microSD slot with dust cover. Omnia HD is able to handle microSD cards upto 16GB and the speed of I/O operations is very impressive if you buy a real high-class MMC. Do remember that Omnia HD comes with 8GB internal memory and 16GB internal memory variants.

Omnia HD Left

At the top, we have a 3.5mm-audio jack that doubles as TV-Out and a loudspeaker.

Omnia HD Top

On the bottom, we have the second loudspeaker and the mouthpiece or microphone.

Omnia HD Bottom

Onto the backside: You will find your fingerprints all over because the back plate is glossy material. We see the obvious 8 Megapixel camera and a simple LED Flash.

Omnia HD Back

Although the 1500 mAh battery seems small for the features it powers, Omnia HD has the best battery life I have ever seen so far. Huge thanks goes to its AMOLED for one.

Operating System

Omnia HD is running on Nokia’s Symbian S60 5th edition operating system. Nevertheless, there really is no hint that you are on Symbian when using this phone at all! This is a one-of-a-kind blend of Nokia’s Symbian S60-Fifth and Samsung’s own TouchWiz.

The home screen is a three-page widget container! There are many widgets provided and many more ready to be downloaded. Widgets are not software. They are small applets that run in the home screen. The home screen is proper TouchWiz.

Omnia HD TouchWiz

Omnia HD TouchWizOmnia HD TouchWiz

Apart from the Home, you have the Photo Contact Application, and the Main menu. There is a nice transition effect between these screens. Although the touch screen of Omnia HD is sound hardware-wise, there are scrolling glitches because of the still-being-developed Symbian S60 5th Edition. Scrolling and sleeting sometimes becomes a life and death situation is considered a bad habit of Omnia HD. This will be fixed through firmware upgrades.

The menus on Omnia are well organized and sorted. As in Nokia, there are two views: List and Grid. Omnia HD has an accelerometer but its functionality is limited to certain (not many) applications only. However, it does work seamless except a few hiccups in the gallery.

Multimedia

For videos and pictures, there are two gallery modes to choose from: One resembles well known Symbian like galley and the other is more on the fun side or should I say fun slide and is called Media Browser. The first one is simple and requires finger scrolling and switched between landscape and portrait upon rotation. The Media Browser is a little more innovative as it allows finger scrolling and side slide as well. You need to tile the device a little to move to next image.

When you look at images on the Omnia, they will always look top-notch on the AMOLED. This is because; Omnia HD does a bit of post-processing before displaying the images. This causes a lag for every image. Similarly, thumbnails and a resource hog and they are refreshed every time causing an unnecessary delay especially if you open a picture-massive folder.

The music player is pretty much like the Nokia 5800, which means it extremely good! The Omnia HD has a 3.5 mm audio jack and plentiful onboard memory. The provided headphones get a very new experience when the 5.1 surround sound option is enabled! The speakers are a real treat and sound great on music and video!

In the video department, the item of interest is HD and hence the secondary Symbian-own RealPlayer will not be discussed here. The Samsung video player supports DivX/XviD video and therefore can play HD videos encoded accordingly. In addition, the video experience is by far the best I have seen on high tech devices. Moreover, I will repeat what I mentioned earlier, the battery life rocks even when watching HD videos! You also get subtitle support.

Since I am trigger-happy now, I will even check out the FM radio! You cannot get a simpler FM radio then this: Auto Scan and Save, RDS for alternate frequency, and six save slots for favorite channels.

Connectivity

Another department where Omnia HD shines bright!

  • USB 2.0
  • Bluetooth 2.0 (with A2DP)
  • WiFi (with UPnP)
  • DLNA
  • Quad Band (GPRS, EDGE, 3G +HSDPA +HSUPA)
  • microSD slot (up to 16GB)
  • microUSB
  • 3.5 mm Audio Jack and serves TV-out as well

Do note that the TV-Out is not HD even if an HD video is played on Omnia HD. There is no HDMI interface on Omnia HD other then DLNA, which requires a WiFi enabled TV.

Web browser

The web browser is an Ok application and need a lot of tweaking still. It was very difficult to navigate and clicking results in zooming out and the experience goes haywire. Kinetic scrolling needs a lot of working here. The built in solid Java and Flash support is extremely welcomed and the overall page rendering is very nice. I have yet to see a layout issue or a broken functionality that would otherwise be working. A few patches and we have the best mobile web browser in our hands.

Camera – Image

The 8-megapixel camera has to be the highlight of Omnia HD because that is where it records video in HD! For image shooting, the UI is very simple and yet allow tweaking of just about every image property you might know of: manual white balance and ISO to exposure compensation, saturation, sharpness, and contrast.

There are some nice fun settings here as well like the smile and blink detection. Smile detection work best if you are shooting a single person. The Omnia HD will not allow a snapshot until the person smiles. The blink detector will inform you that the person blinked during snapshot.

Then there is geo-tagging into the EXIF of images as there is an onboard GPS. There is also the wide dynamic range (WDR) feature, which lowers contrast and generates very vivid, rich, and deep images. I cannot find anything wrong with images here like artifacts etc. this department is a clean 10/10!

Camera – HD Video

The video department has seen its share of difficulties. Unfortunately, its current position is difficult, now. This is the first cell phone claiming 720p @ 24 FPS. Initially, on the pre-release, there were audio issues and video was very good. Now, audio is very nice but the video has been downed a bit. The frame rate is variable and is rarely seen stable at 24 FPS. Try shooting something moving fast and you will have a very bad HD video not worth sharing.

The UI for video recording is similar to the Image snapping. The overall HD video found on Omnia is still the best in the market but there are a couple of compromises that one may not let slip through his mind easily. Stable recording is now a big issue. Omnia HD doesn’t tolerate shaking while recording.

Calling, Messaging, and Emailing

We start with the main contacts application that has everything a Nokia’s alternative offers. It has ability to assign a picture to every contact and takes this a step further by allowing video instead of photos as well. To add exciting and unique functionality, a Photo Contact application is added on the contacts application. If you like to group contacts, you can assign a picture to a group and then use the tagging capability to create shortcuts to different contacts.

In the calling department, dialing, talking, and receiving are all OK with good signal reception. The Voice dialing and smart dialing are absent but may not be missed that much. An interesting utilization of the built-in accelerometer, just flip Omnia HD upside down to silent incoming calls and snooze alarms.

GPS and Digital Compass

I’d advise to get Google Map enables on the Omnia HD immediately as the supplies navigation software offers nothing for Pakistan and requires you to pay up for features. The GPS is very sensitive and get a lock fast partially thanks to the A-GPS support as well.

The digital compass, although a welcome addition, needs tweaking as it never gives the correct north. There is some adjustment required.

Software and Games

The Omnia HD is running on the Symbian S60-Fifth Edition. The possibilities of third party application and games are virtually infinite. Due to this reason, I consider Omnia HD as a smartphone instead of Omnia Jet.

Pros

  • Symbian S60 5th edition with TouchWiz 3D UI
  • ARM Cortex-A8 600 MHz processor; HW Graphic Accelerator
  • 256MB RAM
  • 8 megapixel auto focus camera with LED flash, geo-tagging, face detection, smile shot, image stabilizer, Wide Dynamic Range (WDR), ISO 1600
  • HD 720p@24fps, 720×480@30fps, QVGA time-lapse and slow-mo video recording
  • Dual-band 3G with HSDPA (7.2Mbps) and HSUPA (5.76 Mbps) support
  • Quad-band GSM support
  • Wi-Fi with DLNA technology
  • Built-in GPS with A-GPS functionality
  • 8/16GB internal memory
  • Hot-swappable microSD card slot (up to 32GB)
  • TV out (Standard Definition content only)
  • FM radio with RDS
  • Bluetooth and USB v2.0
  • 3.5mm standard audio jack
  • DNSe audio technology
  • DivX/XviD video support with subtitles (HD video playback)
  • Virtual 5.1 channel Dolby surround (in headphones)
  • Proximity sensor for screen auto turn-off
  • Accelerometer sensor for automatic UI rotation, turn-to-mute and motion-based gaming
  • Magnetometer for digital compass
  • Office document viewer (No Editing)
  • Full Flash support in the web browser

Cons

  • No xenon flash
  • No camera lens cover
  • Sluggish browsing in the image gallery
  • HD video recording sometimes drops below 24fps or duplicates frames to equal 24
  • Samsung Mobile Navigator doesn’t come with any maps or voice-guided navigation license
  • No smart dialing
  • Touch web browser zooming needs tweaking

Conclusion

Well, this will be hard. However, I will just be honest here: I love this cell phone. If you want something exciting and new, just buy this baby!

There were many claims made by Omnia HD and almost all of them proved true except maybe the HD video recording department, which is a fail now. In addition, the web browser’s kinetic scrolling needs an overhaul. I am a fan of WinMo but the Omnia HD has stuff to pull me away.

Omnia HD is currently one of the extremely powerful devices available. Owning one is definitely a privilege!

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