All About Symbian - Nokia (S60) and Sony Ericsson (UIQ) smartphones unwrapped

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Old 08-06-2009, 03:26 PM
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Pt1 Living with the i8910 'Omnia' HD - the first week

A review of the 8Gb Samsung i8910 'Omnia' HD in daily use, after one week of ownership.

Points to note:
- i8910 8Gb version bought from Orange UK, with Orange customisations.

- this review does not cover detailed specifications or images of the i8910 in any clarity; please look at the excellent here at allaboutsymbian; gsmarena; various user videos on Youtube.

- this is my first symbian O/S smartphone of any flavour; previously used only WM5/6/6.1 and own an iPod Touch (2nd Gen)

I decided not to wait for the i8910's 16 Gb version, or to wait to try the
a) HTC touch Pro 2 (no OLED screen, low end camera, but has keyboard and WM6.1...), or
b) new iPhone (the 3GS? if it appears today ... I already have a v2.2 2nd Gen Touch

Part One:
1. The new screen with AMOLED technology, how is it?

Amazing, gorgeous, the best I have ever used. A true leap. Beats iPod touch screen and my previous WM6.1 handset completely. Clearly trumped the HTC Magic in-store (i.e. indoors). Opera mini 4.2 is wonderfully crisp. Comment to Samsung: When the 640 x 360 screen is boosted to 800 x 480 sometime in the future (it will surely happen) then this will be awesome.

Big problem: Viewability in direct sunlight outside is LOW. You can just about use/see it without sunglasses on, and impossible with them on and screen light set to maximum. Just the way it is. Indoors or in the shade, the OLED screen is beautiful. Nothing is (yet) perfect.

2. I am fed up with having low quality cameras on Window Mobile (e.g. HTC) mobiles; how will the 8 megapixel camera / lens / CCD sensor (i.e. noise) perform for quality?

This is the highest quality mobile telephone camera I have used in terms of photograph (.jpg) quality (coupled to NeatImage noise post-processing). I have decided to shoot mainly in the 6MP widescreen mode to match my LCD TV. Colour and contrast levels are amazing for a mobile phone camera. Now the BUT - the Video camera attributes remain POOR, which I found a shame. The noise codec is poor, and the movies remain of a 'stuttery' nature. This should not have been made a major selling point by Samsung.
Lots of onscreen menus, easy to use. Of note: there is a automatic panorama mode, albeit in 640 x 480 only (shame) but you just click the shutter once, turn the camera slowly in an arc of 180 (perhaps 200-210) degrees, matching up onscreen boxes, and then after 8 images are taking automatically (you don't click the shutter button) + a few seconds processing and you have a very usable panorama!

3. The i8910 has no keyboard; I like to email / text a lot - what will it be like to type on this capacitive AMOLED screen ? Will I be able to learn how to use it quickly?

I still prefer my old handset's physical keyboard, but I have become much quicker after one week with the i8910. I have found using two thumbs still too difficult in terms of making mistakes, even using the full on-screen keyboard, using the index finger, one character at a time method. Physical keyboard is still best.

4. The operating system - Symbian O/S 3rd gen Fifth edition. What is this like coming from WM6.1 (Touchflo 3D / Spb shell) and the iPod touch v2.2 (iPhone)?

For usability; the iPod v2.2 remains king for me. Namely the software design, integration, the screen pinching for zooming, the double tapping to zoom things in the browser that then fit on the screen, the fluidity of use, the relative simplicity. Ok, there's no Adobe flash (yet), it's only one application open at a time + all the other little things I am sure Symbian / WM long-term users will defend, but I spent a serious few minutes staring at the Symbian O/S thinking, is it worth the effort? Shall I return it? It was not love at first sight... Immediate impressions were that it is VERY clunky, sometimes you need to press on the screen twice to select something, sometimes once. There is a 1-2 day learning curve, which I confess I have yet to have found rewarding after one week. The Orange World browser is AWFUL and even has a problem with its smooth scrolling on the screen (there is a delay before the page moves under your finger for some reason) + the double tap does not resize the pages (on zoom) to fit the screen, at least for the majority of webpages e.g. BBC news. So, just get rid of the 'Orange World' browser asap & install Opera mini 4.2 (NB Opera mobile does not work, touch screen does not respond to the application, which does appear to install ok).

5. How quick will the GPS make a fix? Outdoors / Indoors / in the car ?
Outdoors; cold start - about 10 seconds; warm start (program already used but Exit'd; sometimes about 2 seconds! Indoors: upto 20 seconds
In car : as above; but on two occasions, has locked me as being in the Czech republic and/or Slovakia on two occasions (???) so far.
Required a handset "switching on/off" to ensure clearance of the GPS hardware.
Conclusion: This is the fastest GPS fix in a mobile phone I have seen.

Orange removed the Route 66 navigation software (I found that this is a free download from Samsung UK support site). This is poor and a negative point. Even more so, when you install do Route 66 and download all the maps (2.75 Gb, luckily for free), then the turn-by-turn navigation is an extra subscription cost!. So, Google maps, if you need a quick lookup and have a good data plan, is much easier to use and rapid.

Orange have their own 'Orange Maps' application, but I do not intend to use it, why pay extra?

6. Does WiFi work ok? I had no problem connecting around the house with the Samsung i8910, so this was ok. However, I believe the Samsung likes to cut out the WiFi circuit (battery saving?) too quickly and often I was asked to reconnect to my SSID if I left the handset alone for e.g. more than 30 secs.

Part Two:
Basic reasons leading to purchase, given extensive reading of the internet and previews:

1. The Capacitive 3.7 " AMOLED (640 x 360 pixel) screen is indeed a marvel. This is the best available IMHO.
2. The 8MP camera and promised HD recording capabilities (but I wasn't expecting much)
3. WiFi and GPS built-in.

Reasons against purchase: No physical keyboard; never used the Symbian O/S (but could be fun to learn/try something new?) i.e. all my Windows Mobile programs become irrelevant. Weight of ~150g just about ok.

Part two to follow...

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Old 29-06-2009, 09:32 AM
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Pt1: Update: After 4 weeks

How time flies - the i8910 has been my daily sidekick for 4 weeks now... as this was my first Symbian handset, the learning curve has been steep, but rapidly tackled thanks to the excellent forums and outstanding Symbian community. Once again, I thank AAS, HDomnia, GSMarena, Samsung UK, etc. for the massive flow of information that (perhaps unfortunately) is required in life to get the most out of our 21st century toys... I hope in some way my posts on AAS have helped those of us, at this particular juncture, who decided upon the i8910.

Updates to the above Pt1 post:
My handset remains Orange UK branded. I have noted elsewhere on this forum the enthusiastic possibility that 'maybe' Samsung UK have a couple of firmwares in the pipeline, to iron out some of the, how shall I say, 'alpha' headline features of this particular handset.
Now I have to ask myself, if (and hopefully that's a small if) my PC studio does allow me to upgrade my Orange firmware, will that invalidate my warranty/insurance. I do not know at this stage (my reportage to come I expect!)... I praise those individuals savvy enough to come up with 'solutions' of debranding, but this route is not for me. I cannot take this risk (I have learnt over the years) as I require this handset for day in/day out business. Also, I refuse to pay extra, in time, to 'bed-in' a handset that is a flagship model and should be way past beta/RC stages before release.
Samsung have not preformed well in this respect and consumer pressure must be placed - I assert this fact, my steep learning curve and dented enjoyment and/or business use of this handest has affected my visions of the Samsung brand. That is because I have found that they are just that (re:high-end HD features) : 'visions'.

However, I have stuck with this handset, just. Firstly, I am still amazed at:
1) The OLED screen. Even after 4 weeks, I am still struck by how incredible it is. A friend of mine has just acquired his first iPhone, the 3Gs model, last week. I have the iPod touch 2nd gen (now v3.0 upgraded) and hence have most of that technology under my belt. My i8910 is now in its black silicon shell with a carefully laid screen protector, and, quite frankly, as a robust business handset, it cannot be beat. You can show clients all the important info on a big screen, that just oozes quality. This is SO important, sad as it may be. BTW, dare I say, that the iPhone form factor, is getting a little 'passe(acute e accent)'... one contact even said to me, oh, you've moved on from the iPhone? I proudly said the truth... I've never owned an iPhone at all! (*oo, are those flames I see before me?**)
I move on...
2) Still waiting for the 32gb microsd release... but 8gb has been surpisingly ok so far, I am carrying about 4gb, before the odd movie and a few albums for those tedious in between meeting moments...
3) Where are the accessories!? The wired remote, with track select buttons? The charging cradle(s) - I always buy two ; home/office. An HD out cable? The 3000+ mAh battery to have 24h .mp4-AAC movie playback LOL
4) The stills part of the camera is still a joy, it is used pretty much everyday for work. Brilliant. Movie mode (bleagh) about once or twice, may be, at the weekend. Can't really play them back properly, so that's that, for now.
5) Typing on the landscape onscreen keyboard is still not excellent, but usable. Wow, I have managed to learn something new!
6) GPS - it's Google maps really and my old WinMo handset. Route 66 takes an age to start, and I'm not paying 90 euro for a turn-by-turn licence (that really should have been included on a flagship handset!). So, good old TomTom is used on my old handset, for now. Not had any more weird GPS locations. GPS locks are still very fast. Last weekend, Googlemaps pinpointed me to within 1 metre of a bench I was sitting on. I think that is acceptable, even for when the next revolution forces us to carry mobile handsets and wants to drop a water bomb on me. GPS I now believe is the BIGGEST power drain on the battery, by far. Use it at your peril if you need power for later in the evening...
7) Wifi: Still fine for connection; but it is really starting to bug me how it drops out quite often - I think it is for power saving reasons. But the times that little pop up arrives saying 'how do you want to connect' is starting to drag.

So, finally, am I missing my WinMo programs? Yes, especially Tomtom, but I still have my old handset! Would I buy the i8910 again, instead of the current WinMo crop/iPhone 3Gs. Yes. Will I buy the successor to the i8910? No. Samsung really must accept that they should NOT release a flagship handset in such a beta, dare I say, alpha, state. Doing a Palm (Pre; essentially a 5 year wait) might be a bit much to ask (good luck to the Pre! Screen is too small, case has a few sharp edges I read, & you still have to learn a new OS & no apps base, but it deserves a good shout, oh, and no lush 8MP camera on the Pre, my friends, eh?).

Conclusion: Let's hope the 'announced'/possible firmware updates fix the awful movie audio, the podcasts app, improve DLNA; +roll on the apps store, the accessories.
Samsung UK; my k consultancy invoice is in the post (joke (?)), but realise I bought the handset because Orange UK offered me an amazing contract, and your handset just happened to be top of the crop on June 1st 2009. Good luck with the S8000, Omnia II etc., but for me, I bow out until my next contract negotiation comes around. I urge consumers in the UK to ask for 12 month contracts... or we'll just keep getting alpha-handsets to live with, as the handest manufacturers think they have time to develop during long contract periods or try and push us to upgrade *yawn*. Still, buying less handsets should be good for the planet. I mean, what does the raw material, and more importantly, raw energy, that goes into 6 million iPhones come from?

I still need three pieces of kit: the i8910, last year's top-end WinMo, and an iPod Touch.

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Old 29-06-2009, 09:45 AM
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re: extended battery & cradle

I just googled, with the search terms:
extended battery i8910
And noticed that in the UK there is a company who is in 'pre-order' for a cradle and 1800 mAh battery... mmm... two things: 1) would have preferred to see at least 2400 mAh, or even 3000 - I am willing to kill the looks of the formfactor and weight to have that on a long business trip. 2) The image does not show how the i8910 is to be charged... it has to be in the usual side port... so wouldn't a horizontal charging cradle be the way to go? Guess that is why it's a pre-order! Not my choice at the mo.
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