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Hands-on with the Samsung Focus

It was nothing short of an adventure this morning tracking down a Samsung Focus. Apparently a few of the AT&T retail stores in my area missed the memo and started selling them yesterday.  This made finding a Samsung Focus in stock a little bit of a challenge.  Regardless, I was able to track one down and after using it for a little over half the day, I have to say it is an impressive phone.

It's thinner and lighter than the HTC Surround and feels really good in the hand.  I'm looking forward to setting up the Windows Phone to see how it performs.  Stay tuned and we'll have a full review of the Focus up shortly.

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As these new WP7 devices become more and more available, slight differences are starting to become evident. One of those differences appears to be load times for video games, with the Samsung clearly beating the HTC 7 Trophy out in a head-to-head.

Much speculation has been circulating that the reason for the difference is the memory: the Omnia 7 uses Samsung's NAND chips while HTC uses internal memory with expandable microSD, causing slower performance. While this was "theory" a few days ago, it appears now to be accurate and we agree with that this is the culprit (but are open to other ideas).

So that may be the trade off folks: expandable memory vs. faster speeds. Which do you prefer? It is worth noting for U.S. customers that the HD7, Samsung Focus and Surround all have microSD cards (and probably Dell Venue Pro), so there's really not much choice. Only the LG Optimus is unconfirmed for its memory configuration.

Source: YouTube; via wmpoweruser

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Someone had some extra time at XDA and went the extra mile, tearing down their Omnia 7 to its barest parts. Pretty amazing to see it all stripped down.

Unfortunately, it looks like Samsung opted for soldered NAND memory instead of an replaceable microSD card, meaning the Omnia 7 is stuck at just 8GB (or 16GB on some models) for eternity. Of course, this makes us wonder about the decision process in regards to memory and it being user-replaceable or not. It seems that if Samsung never wanted you to touch it, they would just use NAND, which we now know they have access to and no problem using.

Source: XDA; via Windows Phone Hacker

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PDC attendees get free Windows Phone 7s

Looks like those lucky developers at PDC10 (see earlier mention) all received free phones today from Microsoft. At last count, that's nearly 1000 people who recived the Samsung Omnia 7--one of the most well received phones yet (other, non-paying attendees received the pre-production Taylor). While Microsoft skipped reporters in NYC a few weeks ago, it looks like MS knows where their bread and butter is: developers!

Source: IStartedSomething

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We've mentioned before, the one big reason to consider the Samsung Focus (here on AT&T) or the Omnia 7 (rest of world) is the screen, featuring Samsung's Super AMOLED technology. It's hard to see in pictures at times, but in person, it really is outstanding and yes, a reason to possibly choose it over other devices.

In the picture above, you can see how the screen fairs in direct sunlight. There has been debate about whether or not Super AMOLED is superior in the sun compared to a traditional LCD, but at least in the case, the Omnia 7 appears to hold up pretty well.

Source: Twitter (@stefanvicentic);

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Microsoft Windows Phone 7 devices are already landing in stores overseas and are just around the corner from hitting the store shelves in the U.S. We are now seeing reviews surface across the web on the Samsung Focus, HTC Mozart, HTC Surround, and HTC HD7.

We will soon add our own reviews to the growing list but in the meantime, we thought we would offer up a little roundup of what others are saying about these new phones.

Ease on past the break to see what others are saying about the new Windows Phones.

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Staff Choices: Windows Phone 7 Devices

One nice thing about not being an Apple Fanboy is that I actually get some options when it comes to new phones. With Microsoft’s official announcement of Windows Phone 7 and the associated hardware announcements out of the way, I can get down to the business of choosing my hardware.

First of all, as we’ve said many times here, which carrier you will use is the priority decision here. Because of my work location, my choices are really limited to AT&T and Verizon. The fact that I have been an AT&T customer for some time, combined with the news that Verizon is going to be late to the party, make that an easy choice. My real complaint here is that my two favorite form factors, the HTC 7 Pro and the Dell Venue Pro, are not available on AT&T.

Since I’m sticking with AT&T, my choices are limited to the Samsung Focus, LG Quantum, and HTC Surround. Some of the things on my wishlist for a new device would be a hardware keyboard (I currently use an HTC Tilt 2), a large screen, and a front facing camera. Something like the Sprint Epic 4G with Windows Phone 7 would be perfect. Unfortunately, I appear to have set my sights too high.

Since the Quantum is the only device with a hardware keyboard that would seem to be the best choice, but I’m not entirely sold on LG as a Smartphone manufacturer just yet, and I’m not entirely sure I like the keyboard layout or even the way that the three buttons on the front are arranged. I’m also a big fan of what HTC does with their hardware, and the innovative design of the Surround is definitely tempting, but I would like a little more screen real-estate. I’m also a heavy Bluetooth Headphones user, so I don’t know how much use I’d get out of those speakers.

At this point I’m fairly certain that I will be picking up a Samsung Focus on November 9. The things that sold me on the Focus are the 4 inch Super AMOLED screen, the sleek and slim form factor, and the Samsung brand in general. I’m a former Samsung BlackJack user, and just knowing how solid that device was makes me very comfortable with the Focus. The other thing that has me excited about the Focus is the potential for expanding the storage capacity. Even though it is limited to 8gb of internal storage (compared to 16gb for the other two AT&T phones), the ability to add a microSD card to the mix makes the Focus a very attractive option.  I’m a little nervous about giving up my hardware keyboard, but I’m hoping that I won’t even notice.

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Unfortunately the Samsung Omnia 7 won't be heading to the U.S. anytime soon (but it is going to Mexico, according to SPK), instead we'll have the similar and somewhat better Samsung Focus on AT&T (brief hands on). We say that the Focus is better now because it features removable/expandable storage, whereas the Omnia 7 does not. In fact, the Omnia 7 is basically the same phone in a lot of ways.

Still, the Omnia 7 is a quad-band GSM and tri-band 3G phone, so technically you can import one if you really want its squareness over the more svelte Focus. And in our conversation with Samsung yesterday, they said they are in talks with all U.S. carriers, so hope is in the air for some CDMA love in the spring.

In the meantime, take a look at GSM Arena's comprehensive review of the I8700 Omnia 7. They "...walk away impressed" with the hardware, reserving any criticism for the now familiar "limitations-of-the-OS" arguments. Getting back to the hardware they say this:

To summarize the review in one sentence – the hardware is perfect, it’s the software that lets the phone down on occasion.

Like all current Samsung devices (Galaxy S series), their strength is simply their screens featuring Super AMOLED, which really is quite impressive with it's "wet" blacks and rich contrast. That's the take away message of why Samsung's WP7 offerings may be a better choice for some of you.

Source: GSM Arena; Thanks, Olaf M, for the tip!

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Removable storage & Windows Phone 7 [Samsung Focus]

Okay, lets get some of this confusing stuff out of the way: the Samsung Focus has "only" 8GB of storage available. In talking with Samsung, their position was basically so much of this phone is "cloud based" that 8GB may be sufficient for most people. However, they're more than glad to suggest that 16GB and higher are probably on the horizon.

Having said that, the Focus does have removal storage (see the above shot), but it's tricky. Basically you can any size card you like, but you can't remove it without hard-resetting the phone and it's not clear that the card would be re-usable if you do remove it. So essentially, if you add a 16GB or 32GB card, that's it, you got your shot. This has to do with how WP7 uses memory--basically it mirrors/spreads it across any added memory.

But hey, our EVO came with a 16GB card and we've never removed it either. Seems like once you go that huge (or larger), you have little need to keep swapping. So to us, this sounds like a win-win situation, at least for what we're working with here.

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AT&T Samsung Focus

While Europe appears to be recieving the Samsung Omnia 7, U.S. markets will be getting the Samsung Focus from AT&T. We got to know this device, pre-launch, as the Samsung Cetus.

The Focus will sport a 4" WVGA Super AMOLED screen, 5mp camera, 8gb of storage and will only be 9mm thick. AT&T will offer this Windows Phone 7 device for $199 (presumably after contractual discounts) on November 8, 2010.

The Focus will join the HTC Surround and LG Quantum as AT&T's maiden Windows Phone 7 lineup.

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Samsung Omnia 7 Announced

Samsung has released the Samsung Omnia 7 which joins the AT&T Focus in Samsung's Windows Phone 7 lineup.

The Omnia 7, which is headed to European Carriers, sports a 4" super-AMOLED screen, 1ghz processor, a 5mp camera and either a 8gb or 16gb on board storage. The Omnia 7 is expected to be available by the holidays (just around the corner) on Orange, SFR, Moviestar and T-Mobile in Europe.

Hit the break for Samsung's Press Release on the Omnia 7.

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We're just a couple of hours away from the official launch of Windows Phone 7 -- and you will be joining us for the liveblog -- but that doesn't mean there's not already a bit of news about.

First up is the Samsung Omnia 7, which broke its cover on a Russian Sammy site before pulling its head back its shell. We've seen it before, but there it is, folks, in its officially rendered glory.

Then there's an update to the Zune desktop software, which you're going to need to rock a Windows Phone. (And besides that, it's just a killer multimedia contest system.) [Samsung via Slashgear]

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Engadget just got another AT&T leak, this time showing off some new names for some Windows Phone 7 devices: Samsung Focus and HTC Surround (which sounds like this guy, the T8788).

Should we guess that the former is a camera-featured phone while the latter is...ummm...sound/media specialized? Yeah, we like literal names for our devices. Of course, actual specifications and images are missing at this time.

Combined with the Samsung Cetus, LG C900 and GW910 that brings the number to FIVE, and yet according to Engadget AT&T will have a total of SIX Windows Phone 7 devices. Yowza.

Dell Lightning seems plausible or, alternatively that Asus phone with the AT&T name in the marketplace for that mystery sixth device.

Either way, AT&T customers will certainly have the largest selection of devices for nearly any OS out there. Perhaps they're insulating themselves against that Verizon iPhone rumor?

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Samsung joins forces with Microsoft

Samsung has announced today an agreement to use Windows Phone 7 as a key component of the Samsung smartphone line-up. While this isn't exactly earth shattering news, it should dis-spell any lingering rumors that circulated back when Samsung said it was prioritizing Android.

In the press release Samsung's Mobile Division head in the UK and Ireland, Simon Stanford, stated, "“The addition of Windows Phone 7 devices to Samsung’s smartphone portfolio is a significant milestone. Samsung’s new Windows Phone 7 based smartphones will play a key role in reinforcing Samsung’s leadership in the smartphone market and commitment to providing a range of devices across a variety of platforms.”

Samsung did add that plans exist to launch several Windows Phone 7 devices this year in Europe, the U.S. and Asia. There were no mention of how many devices is considered "several" or what additional devices we may see.  So far we have seen the Samsung Cetus, i8700 and the mystery Focus. Maybe we'll see Samsung move into the other chasis styles (sliding and front facing keyboards) later this year.

via: Pocket-Lint, Samsung

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A recently Broadband report over at is generating two Windows Phone 7 rumors.

The first has the Samsung GT i8700 becoming part of the Omnia line as the Samsung Omnia 7. This isn't too far of a stretch seeing that Samsung has had good success with previous Omnia Windows Phones. 

The second rumor has an interesting twist. The HTC T8788 is rumored to be headed to AT&T (no surprise there) but the reports shows the phone on the provider, which is indicative of Verizon phones. Verizon fans shouldn't read too much into this. As many have already reported, this anomaly could easily be the T8788 piggy-backing on a Verizon hot-spot.


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Review: Samsung Hartmann Luxury Leather Case

While Samsung has built a reputation for quality electronics, they also offer some decent cases for your Windows Phones. The Hartmann Luxury Leather Case is a quality built, uniquely designed case for the Samsung Jack. It will also accommodate the Sprint Snap and Verizon Ozone.

What sets the Hartmann case apart from others is that lack of a case flap. It's more of a horizontal pouch than case. I have reservations about how secure the Samsung Jack would ride in the case.

Ease on past the break to see how well the Samsung Hartmann Luxury Leather Case measured up.

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Samsung GT-i8700 get GCF approval

While the Cetus may be the more visible Windows Phone 7 from Samsung, the GT-i8700 has recently received the Global Certification Forum's seal of approval.

No details on the phones specifications beyond it's radio bands. The i8700 supports GSM/GPRS/EDGE and UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA at 900/1900/2100mhz.  This will make it a European release and possibly one of the phones headed to shelves in late October.

via: the::unwired

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A Samsung Windows Phone 7 was recently caught up against an iPhone, giving us a little size comparison. What appears to be the Cetus is just a smidgen longer and wider than the iPhone and maybe even thicker.

What's a little confusing is that we've known the Cetus to be tagged the Samsung SGH-i917. The Windows Phone 7 device pictured is tagged the SGH-i916. The distinction is likely that the i916 is headed to the Canadian wireless provider Rogers, while the i917 is AT&T bound.

via: Engadget

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Samsung Cetus i917 caught on tape

The Samsung Cetus i917 was caught on tape recently during a Channel 9 "Inside Windows Phone" taping. Charles Kindel, Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 program manager, shows off the phone during the brief interview.

The Cetus is reported to have a 4", 800x480, AMOLED screen and looks really nice in the video. The Cetus is thin enough to be carried in your front pants pocket but does the phone looks small for a 4" screen?

While the appearance was brief, the video of the Cetus also reveals a home control system app that can control lights, thermostat settings and garage doors. 

You can catch the full video excerpt featuring the Cetus after the break and the full, seventeen minute video of Channel 9's "Inside Windows Phone" video here.


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