Finally, after some months of creative freedom I’m coming back to blog something. Currently my topic of choice is Windows Phone 7 (WP7) and I want to write some posts about my experiences with the phone and especially with the platform in the following weeks and months. I’m interested in WP7 personally and by profession, since my company SDX is investing in this platform and the „several screens and the cloud“ vision of Microsoft (I’m explicitly not saying „3 screens“, because it doesn’t make sense to give it a certain number).
In this blog post I want to write about my experiences with the Samsung Omnia 7 just to get started with my WP7 blog series. I got the Omnia 7 some weeks ago and use it continuously. To get to the heart of my experiences: I love the Omnia 7!
First things first: me and the iPhone
Since 08/2010 I’m a proud iPhone 4 user and I’m really happy with it. It has an intuitive UI and user guidance, it’s fast and there are many really great apps and games for it. It’s an everyday companion and I use it for nearly everything digital: Twitter, Facebook, E-Mails, Tethering, gaming, organization, music, taking photos, information, navigation, … I use my iPhone extensively and didn’t think that any other phone could give me a similar experience…
Omnia 7: First impressions
With the Omnia 7 it’s like with every new toy you get: in the first days you play around with everything. Thus after unpacking the device I begun with the initialization/configuration of my new Windows Phone 7. Adding my accounts was intuitive and very easy, integration with all my e-mail accounts, Windows Live and Facebook is seamless. Configuration is very simple at all. It gives you not much flexibility, but on the other side it feels very natural and you don’t have to pore over thick manuals to get everything to work.
UI, Tiles and Hubs
I started using the Omnia 7 extensively and I must admit: I love the UI! The overall „Metro UI“ design is clean, very clear and user-focussed. It has nothing to do with the awkward Windows Mobile UI, it’s just fresh and beautiful. The level of animations is just right to guide the user and to give him a nice experience. The concept of live tiles and hubs on the homescreen is very convincing, it’s user-centric instead of app-centric. It’s how a consumer phone UI should look and it’s really compelling to me.
There are just some downsides on the UI. I would love an E-Mail hub and I don’t like the „app list“ very much. Of course you can pin important apps as tiles to the homescreen, but I’m not a fan of a long tile tube. One solution could be the definition of custom „hubs“, where you can integrate a bunch of apps and to which you have instant access by this way. For me this would be a real improvement!
Omnia 7 and other WP7 devices
I compared the Samsung Omnia 7 with other WP7 devices of my colleagues: HTC 7 Mozart and HTC HD7. And in my opinion the Omnia 7 beats both devices clearly. It has a better speed when starting and using applications, giving a smoother UI experience at all. The AMOLED display is fantastic! Great colors, clear fonts, fantastic brightness and contrast. Clearly superior over the HTC devices. The form factor is good for me, it feels very comfortable in my hand. Battery life is really good, thus in my opinion it’s a a great piece of hardware!
Omnia 7 vs. iPhone
When it comes to the iPhone I think the Omnia 7 is nearly meeting on eye level, with the iPhone as matured winner. The iPhone 4 is superior in its exclusivity, its manufacturing and I love the Retina display! It has the great AppStore with fantastic apps. The Omnia 7 respectively Windows Phone 7 can’t compete with that! Of course, the WP7 marketplace is growing rapidly, but it’s still missing a mass of really great apps and games. In comparison to Apple’s AppStore apps or games are more expensive, partially terrifying! For example, the game „Assassin’s Creed“ is priced 0.99$ in the AppStore, while you have to pay 6.99$ on the WP7 Marketplace – wtf? This is really a wrong signal for me, but I believe that prices will drop when Marketplace competition increases.
When it comes to the UI, both systems are doing very well. While the iPhone has a feature-rich UI, Windows Phone 7 shines with its user-centric interface and with its simplicity and usability. I personally prefer the WP7 UI!
Concerning Multimedia my experiences are that the iPhone makes better photos, while the Omnia 7 with Windows Phone 7 has a better interface for taking and viewing photos. Furthermore I compared the sound of both devices and in my subjective opinion the Omnia 7 wins. With the same in-ear headphones the Omnia 7 produces clearer sounds with finer levels and a convincing bass. Meanwhile I prefer hearing music from my Omnia 7 instead of my iPhone. Moreover the integrated phone speakers of the Omnia 7 are much better than the silent iPhone speakers.
To sum up, I didn’t think that as proud iPhone 4 owner I could get a new, fresh and compelling mobile experience. But Windows Phone 7 convinced me of the contrary. It comes with an easy-to-use, intuitive and user-centric interface, which isn’t just another iPhone clone, but which has some interesting characteristics. The hardware of the Omnia 7 is great and in my opinion it’s one of the best (if not the best) WP7 devices out there at the moment.
Of course there are downsides: the marketplace is still small and many apps are too expensive or of poor quality. Windows Phone 7 itself is not very feature-rich and has well-known missing features (Tethering etc.). But I used the Omnia 7 for some weeks now and in my opinion it’s a great consumer phone! WP7 is a completely rounded system and I enjoy using it! Microsoft still has a long way to go, but they delivered a great „version 1“. If they’re able to use the initial momentum and deliver the missing features in the short-term, I believe that Windows Phone will be a serious and successful competitor to Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android in the middle- and long-term. The stage is set for a new star on the smartphone sky, let’s see if it can shine bright…