Hot on the heels of the original Samsung Omnia i900 launched in 2008, Samsung is back with the Samsung Omnia Icon smartphone. Known as the Samsung Omnia II or the Samsung Omnia i8000 internationally, the Omnia Icon smartphone raises the bar with a massive AMOLED touch screen, a five-megapixel camera and juicy upgrades to Samsung's TouchWIZ interface.
Our review unit was an international model (Samsung Omnia II or Samsung Omnia i8000). The Australian model will be almost identical, but we'll update our review with any changes once we get our hands on a local version of the phone.
The Samsung Omnia Icon is certainly stylish. Its gloss black body is sleek and curved, and the brushed design of the large answer and end call keys and mirrored cube button add a touch of class. However, the plastic design won't be a hit with all users. There are lock, back and camera buttons on the right, and volume controls on the left. We prefer the design of the Samsung Omnia Icon to the original Omnia despite the new model being larger. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to keep the display and case free of fingerprints and smudges.
The large size of the Omnia Icon has allowed Samsung to include a 3.7in AMOLED touch screen. It’s a resistive touch screen rather than a capacitive one (meaning you can use a stylus), but it's without doubt the best resistive screen we've used, surpassing the smaller touch screen of the Nokia N97. Strangely, the included stylus can't be housed in the phone itself; it’s a separate accessory that can dangle off the smartphone.
According to Samsung, the Omnia Icon's AMOLED (active-matrix organic light emitting diode) display uses less power than regular mobile phone screens but offers increased brightness, better colour and clarity and higher definition. The Omnia Icon's display possesses superb viewing angles, rich colour and excellent brightness; it's one of the most impressive smartphone displays we've seen.
Samsung's TouchWIZ interface is the big selling point of the Omnia Icon, and it's been given a huge overhaul from the first iteration. The original version suffered due to small icons, frustrating text input and an inconsistent UI.
TouchWIZ is essentially a skin that sits on top of the standard Windows Mobile 6.1 interface. The row of widgets on the left edge of the home screen remains, and you simply press and drag icons from the panel to the main area to use a particular program or function. The Samsung Omnia Icon now has three home screen pages that can be swiped through by sliding your finger across the screen, and these are fully customisable. For example, we added clock, calendar and shortcut widgets to the first screen; Google, Facebook, YouTube and music widgets to the second; and profile and connectivity settings to the third.
The system isn't perfect: when multiple widgets are added, the screen becomes sluggish to scroll through and the widgets aren't labelled in the sidebar, so it's hard to distinguish what many of them do. Additionally, the Facebook and YouTube widgets are merely links to the Web page of each service rather than dedicated apps. On the whole, though, the widget system is a good replacement for the regular Windows Mobile home screen.