Samsung has been pushing out a lot of phones lately. All have their pros and cons but their Omnia lineup is clearly the cream of the crop. With spectacular devices like the Omnia, Omnia II, and the Omnia HD, expectations really skyrocket when we hear the Omnia name tied to any device. While the previous devices in the lineup were aimed at entertainment, and enthusiast markets, Samsung are now expanding the Omnia range to business users as well.
The new business oriented Omnia Pro lineup would open up with Samsung Omnia Pro B7320 and the Samsung Omnia Pro B7610. The B7610 is full touchscreen device with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard running Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional. Essentially, its almost the same as the Samsung Omnia II, with the exception of having a physical slide out keyboard.
The Samsung Omnia Pro B7320 by contrast is a candy-bar device, with a physical QWERTY keyboard. It runs on Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard, though it is upgradable to Windows Mobile 6.5 Standard for free. Running on Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard means that the device isn’t aimed at the high-end business executives. Instead, it would find itself sitting more comfortably in the palms of our average 9 to 5 desk workers. But does it deliver enough features to satisfy its targeted market segment? Lets find out with an in-depth review.
Lets kick things off with a full set of specifications for the device. I compiled the following list of technical specifications from a number of web sources.
(width x height x depth):
|59.8 x 118 x 12.6 millimeters
2.4 x 4.6 x 0.5 inches
|Bounding;Volume:||88.9 cube centimeters|
|Embedded–Operating:System:||Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard|
|Operating;System–Kernel:||Windows CE 5.2|
|ROM+capacity:||256 MB, including 70MiB user-accessible non-volatile storage|
|Display+Type:||color transflective TFT display|
|Display–Color_Depth:||16 bit/pixel (65536 scales)|
|Display:Diagonal:||2.4 ” (61 millimeters)|
|Display_Resolution:||320 x 240 (76800 pixels)|
|Viewable_Display;Size:||1.92 ” x 1.44 ” (48.8 x 36.6 millimeters)|
|Dot–Pitch:||166.6 pixel/inch (0.1525 millimeter/pixel)|
|16 bit nominal quantization
44100 Hz sampling frequency
|16 bit resolution
44100 Hz holding frequency
|Cellular:Networks:||GSM850, GSM900, GSM1800, GSM1900, UMTS850, UMTS1900, UMTS2100|
|Cellular_Data+Links:||CSD, GPRS, EDGE, UMTS, HSDPA|
|Call;Alert:||40 -chord melody (polyphonic)|
|Phone_Controller:||Qualcomm MSM7201A (QDSP4000, QDSP5000)|
|Primary;Keyboard:||Built-in QWERTY-type keyboard, 45 keys
Automatic keyboard backlight (upon press of any key)
|Directional_Pad:||Four-way (with action button)|
|Expansion:Interfaces:||microSD, microSDHC, TransFlash, SDIO
Supports High Capacity (SD 2.0/HC) memory cards with capacity of up to 32GB
|USB:||USB 2.0 client, Full-Speed (12Mbit/s)
USB Series Mini-B (mini-USB) connector
|Bluetooth_(802.15):||Bluetooth 2.0 + Enhanced Data Rate, Internal antenna|
|Wireless_LAN/Wi-Fi;(802.11):||IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g, 54 Mbit/s
|Analog;Radio:||FM radio (87.5-108MHz) with RDS radio receiver
Proprietary headset as antenna
|Navigation_Chip(set):||Qualcomm MSM7201A gpsOne|
|Resolution:||2048 x1536 pixels (3.15MP)|
|Camcorder:||320×240 pixels , 12frame/sec|
|Recordable;Video:Formats:||3GP, 3G2, MJPG|
Those of you who enjoy the unboxing sessions we post of almost every piece of technology we review would be disappointed. The reason is that the sample we got for the review came in a simple white box with only the charger in the package. Nothing else, not even the data cable was available, though a standard micro-USB data cable did do the trick.
The reason we didn’t get the official retail packaging is that the phone isn’t yet on sale here in Pakistan and so what we have is a pre-production sample. I’m sure the launch version would have all the basic accessories in the box including the user manual, software disc, data cable and headsets etc.
The Omnia Pro is a full candy bar phone. Design wise, it is pretty similar to a BlackBerry Bold or the Nokia E71, which also happen to be its main competitors.
The 2.4 inch screen sits above the full QWERTY keyboard. There is a status indicator LED and an ambient light sensor above the LCD screen. The LED indicator uses various color indicators for different notifications like a Green indicator to show a full battery, a blue indicator to show WiFi or Bluetooth radios in use or a purple indicator to notify of any unread messages.
The screen itself is bright and sharp though it could have featured a higher resolution like 480×360 pixels in order to fit more content on the screen. Windows Mobile limits the color depth to only 65k so there isn’t much to complain there. The screen’s brightness doesn’t affect its overall color representation in direct sunlight though there is a slight tint of blue present, even in a dark room. When compared side by side, a Nokia 5630 XpressMusic has a higher brightness with more accurate color representation.
The sides of the phone are pretty much clean as most hardware buttons are located on the keyboard itself. The only thing present on the sides are the power button and the volume rocker left and the micro-USB connector on the right side.
There is an absence of any audio port meaning that the headset would most probably fit into the micro-USB port.
The back side is kept simple too with a loudspeaker and the 3.2 mega pixel camera lens on the top and a large battery cover on the bottom separated by a silver strip bearing the Samsung logo.
Under the battery cover, you would get what you expect, a small lithium ion battery, a SIM card slot and a MicroSD slot. I wonder why they couldn’t make it hot-swappable because you would have to remove the battery to access the slot.
The full QWERTY keyboard on the Omnia Pro is undoubtedly the center of attention here. The keyboard is divided into two sections – the navigation area and the actual QWERTY keyboard.
The Navigation keys consist of the 4-way directional pad with a button in the center. Surrounding that are the left and right soft keys along, with the Home and Back buttons just below them. The Call Accept and Call Reject/Lock button are on the far sides of the keyboard. All these keys are fairly large and have a nice tactile feel in them.
The QWERTY keyboard is split into 4 rows with the letter keys occupying the first three and and some special functions buttons in the last. The keys are relatively smaller then most BlackBerry devices but a bit larger then the E71. You would need a little bit of time to get used to them if you have big thumbs like mine. Once you’ve passed that, they QWERTY keyboard is one of the best in this form factor, and it should be because the Omnia Pro is intended to be a messaging device.
The special characters are spread across the entire alphabet and can be accessed by pressing the ALT key. The spacebar is a bit smaller from what I expected but still pretty much accessible. Besides that, there are some quick shortcut keys to Windows Live Messenger, Internet Explorer (or any other browser), Messaging, and Camera along the bottom row.
The overall typing experience you get from the keyboard is very much satisfying. To get an idea of just how much is “very much”, consider this review. About 80% of all the text typing was done on the Samsung Omnia Pro while I was travelling between Lahore and Islamabad.
Believe what you want to, but in my opinion, the Operating System is the single most important thing which can make or break a device. Thankfully, Samsung decided to go big here and have pushed out Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard as the operating system for Omnia Pro. And that’s not all, starting this November, all the users are eligible for a free upgrade to Windows Mobile 6.5 Standard.
Everyone knows that when we talk about Windows Mobile, we’re talking about big guns. In fact, Windows Mobile is the most complete, detailed and customizable mobile operating system out there. And it happens to be far more powerful than its competitors. For example, just look at what HTC does with its TouchFlo3D UI or even Samsung too with its TouchWiz interface.
Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard is targeted for smartphones which don’t have touch capabilities built into them. It features almost all the same applications as its touch counterpart, Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional, with the only differences coming tin terms of navigation.
The Omnia Pro comes with Samsung WizPro interface turned on by default, which borrows a lot from the TouchWiz design. Even though you can always change the default interface, WizPro brings all the features of your device directly to your home screen.
It divides the home screen into five panels: Home, Contacts, Music, Photos and Shortcuts. The Home panel shows you the current date and time along with the status of your device like unread voicemails and messages.
The Contacts panel lets you pin 8 favorite contacts with their photographs on the screen for quick access.
The Music panel allows you to control your media player directly from the home screen, while the Photos panel lets your flick through the images stored on your device.
The Shortcuts panel, as the name implies allows you to pin your favorite applications to the home screen allowing you to launch them quickly without diving into the menus.
The messaging application is one of the prime features of Omnia Pro. The application is the standard one you get in Windows Mobile 6.1, which supports seamless multiple accounts all tied together into one unified inbox with support for Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync. Its actually a striped down version of Outlook Mobile, but it gets the job done quite nicely. My only complains about this application were the lack of Push Email support. I get mail instantly on my Nokia phone with Nokia Messaging which supports Push Email.
The other major messaging application on the B7320 is the Windows Live Messenger of course. This application is a part of Windows Live for Mobile services which includes Hotmail, Messenger, Bing, Contacts and Spaces. Windows Live Messenger can be launched at any time by hitting the application shortcut button right next to the ALT key on the keyboard. The application experience is very similar to what you get on the Series 60 devices. The only major difference here is speed, which isn’t much of a surprise given that the S60 version is a port of the original Windows Mobile version.
This is the one of the only places where Omnia Pro let me down. I was expecting a good browser in the device given its specifications but instead ended up with only Internet Explorer Mobile out of the box. And no this isn’t the desktop version of IE, which has made its way onto Windows Mobile 6.5. In fact this browser is only capable of rendering mobile versions of web pages, which looks very ugly. Samsung really should have pre-installed Opera Mobile here.
But thankfully, there wasn’t any real harm done, as I was easily able to download and install two of favorite browsers of Windows Mobile, which are Opera Mobile and Skyfire. Both these browsers offer desktop quality web surfing and feature full Flash Player support.
The Omnia Pro really isn’t a multimedia centric device, nor does it try to be. It is strictly a business phone, and a good one for that matter. Still having Windows Media Player 10 out of the box meant support for a host of different media formats including MP3, AAC, 3GP, MP4, AVI, WMA, and WMV etc. And since it is running on a smartphone operating system, you can easily throw in codecs and players for other formats.
And for those who like to stream media from other sources, Omnia Pro also has built in applications for FM Radio and Internet Streaming. Of course you can always install YouTube’s Native application for Windows Mobile and play YouTube videos on your phone directly without having to setup a streaming connection.
Productivity and PIM
You get Office Mobile 6.1 pre-installed which is pretty much the standard on all Windows Phones. The applications include Word Mobile, PowerPoint Mobile, Excel Mobile and OneNote Mobile. Interestingly, I wasn’t able to create new documents with any of these applications even though I could edit any documents I transferred from my computer.
For Personal Information Management, you get a plethora of standard Windows Mobile applications which include Calendar, Alarms, Tasks, Search, Converters, Calculators, Stopwatch, World Clock and Voice Notes. The Contacts application combines your phone and email contacts into one list with photos so you can easily access different contact options or combine Outlook and phone contacts.
GPS and Navigation
The Omnia Pro comes with a built in Assisted GPS receiver which is quite powerful. The Omnia Pro is one of the only devices which could easily receive GPS signals even when I’m inside my room – a feat which almost all devices I’ve used fail to achieve.
The let down in this department was that there was no application preinstalled to take advantage of the GPS. No navigation or mapping software at all. I threw in on Google Maps and a trial version of Garmin Mobile XT and the GPS worked with a charm. Especially with Google Latitude, where I had been constantly updating my location while travelling between Lahore and Islamabad.
A messenger is worthless without the right connectivity, and thankfully Samsung knew that too. That’s why the B7320 has a whole range of connectivity options which include standard cellular radios as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. To be more precise, the Omnia Pro has IEEE 802.11 b/g capability along with having Bluetooth 2.0 with Enhanced Data Rate technology. The cellular radios also cover the entire 2G spectrum as well as most common 3G networks. Other usual bits like CSD, GPRS, EDGE and HSDPA are also on board.
In terms of physical connectivity, the phone comes with a Micro-USB Type-B connector which supports the USB 2.0 standard. Plus there is a MicroSD card slot under the batter cover which supports upto 8GB of storage. You’d really need that as the phone only has a 100MB of user memory otherwise.
I wasn’t expecting much in terms of camera performance from this phone strictly because it was never meant to be used for photography or videos. It is a business phone and for that matter, it packs quite a bit of muscle with its 3.2 mega pixel CMOS camera. As far as the image quality goes, I’ll let the following two photos give you an idea of what to expect. The photo on the left are taken with the Omnia Pro (max quality settings) and the ones on the right are by the Nokia 5630 XpressMusic (also a 3.2 MP camera at max settings).
|Samsung 7320 Omnia Pro||Nokia Xpress Music 5630|
You can easily see a distinct blurriness compared to the 5630’s image along with a reduced field of view. What’s surprising is that the 5630 actually has a mediocre camera even in cell phones which implies that the Omnia Pro’s camera lies even further below that. Videos were even more disappointing due to the fact that camera could only capture at resolutions up to 320×240 at a depressing 12 frames per second.
Still no dreams crushed here though because I wasn’t really expecting something stellar with the camera anyways.
Only a handful of devices from major vendors try to aim at the mainstream business user market segment. This segment is distinctly defined by having strict business requirements including exceptional email and messaging capabilities, along with having a full QWERTY keyboard and a price tag between PKR 22,000 to PKR 32,000. Surprisingly, a couple of BlackBerries and Nokia E Series devices fit these requirements.
The Samsung Omnia Pro B7320 is a nice addition to the mix and would most certainly be the one users would prefer once it gets upgraded to Windows Mobile 6.5 which would solve a ton of its software woes. But even right now, I’ll recommend the Omnia Pro to every business user aged around 25 to 30 who are looking for a great business device in this price range. Of course after the introduction of the Nokia E72 in the local market, competition would most certainly heat up.
- Ergonometric Design
- Good Physical Keyboard
- Powerful Operating System
- Upgradable to Windows Mobile 6.5
- Excellent Messaging Capabilities
- Comes Pre-Loaded with a ton of applications
- Excellent Media and Connectivity options
- Mediocre camera performance, but thats a case with almost all business phones
- No navigation software pre-installed
- No 3.5 Audio Jack
- MicroSD card not hot-swappable