Choices: HTC Surround or Samsung Focus?

A discussion is going on over in the WPCentral Forums is going on that's trying to decide between the Samsung Focus and the HTC Surround. Which phone is better?

Both are quality phones and, honestly, niether one is a bad choice. It's more of an issue of finding which phone fits your personal tastes best.

That's a nice, safe position to take but we couldn't end things with that. In weighing the pros and cons, I see the Samsung Focus having an edge over the HTC Surround. To see why, follow the break.

What You Are Saying

Here are a few of the opinions already voiced in the forums.

Electricbopeep: "I would recommend the Samsung Focus off the bat because I hate the Surround's design but since you actually like the speakers on the Surround that complicates things."

James Kara: "Though I prefer HTC Surround - it's more innovative with good hardware. But I think, there is another option from AT&T - LG Quantum."

Dusteater: "If it was me, I'd go with the Focus. The speaker might be innovative, but hardly useful for how I use a phone. I'd take the better screen and camera over the better sound."

My Thoughts

HTC Surround

The two weaknesses of the HTC Surround were the screen performance and the vibration alert. Call quality, speed of process, battery life, fit and feel were all exceptional. The screen, while it looked great, it wasn't always receptive to the touch. I spent a considerable amount of time double tapping the Surround screen trying to get a response out of it.

A good portion of consumers need their phones to be quiet at some point but they want to know when a phone call comes in. Enter the vibrate mode. It allows you to be alerted on an incoming call without disturbing the entire room with the AT&T jingle. It may be a minor nit to some but the vibration of the Surround is so faint, you have to press the phone to feel it. It's a must have feature for some and on the Surround, it's ineffective.

The standout feature of the Surround is the slide out speaker. It allows for stereo sound while watching videos or enjoying your favorite tunes without the need for headphones. While the speaker sounded nice, how often do you listen to music or videos without using headphones? It's a nice thing to have but probably after you've shown the speaker off to friends, it may never be used again. It's a nice feature but not enough to push the Surround to the top of the list.

Samsung Focus

While the speaker is the center piece of the Surround, the Focus's center piece is the screen. The Super-AMOLED screen is large, colorful and has a bit more gusto that non-AMOLED screens. Everything from the tiles to videos to emails seem to look crisper on the Focus. As I mentioned in the review, it's not that non-AMOLED screens are bad, it's just that the Super-AMOLED brings a little more to the table.

The processor moves things along nicely and while the engines are the same, the Focus seems to move along a little faster than the Surround. Call quality, fit and feel (as with the Surround) are also exceptional. The Focus gets the nod with respect to battery life primarily because it has a 1500mah battery compared to the 1230mah of the Surround.

The Focus wins out with regards to screen responsiveness and gets an edge with respect to vibration alerts. The Focus's screen was extremely responsive to the touch with very few double taps needed. Swipes, sweeps, taps and touches were all registered nicely by the screen.

I give the Focus an edge with the vibration alert because while I felt it better, it was also on the weak side. It took about two rings before I noticed the vibration and if I fumbled to get the phone out of the case, I risked having the call go to voice mail. I don't know if it's an issue of the thinner form factors of both phones but I missed the bone rattling vibration the HTC Tilt2 has.

The Focus's weaknesses might rest with its design more than anything. The sides of the Focus are raised up about the screen, creating a rim of sorts. This creates a edge that is prone to collecting dust, grit and grime.  Then again, ninjaap points out in the the review comments that the raised sides could act as a bumper to help protect the screen.

The button layout on the Focus is a little different than other Windows Phones (power button to the side) but in time, you get used to it.

Parting Thoughts

Again, both the HTC Surround and Samsung Focus are quality Windows Phones.  While the HTC Surround has a few more weak spots, I would have no reservations about using the Surround should the Samsung Focus disappear overnight.

My preference is with the Focus.  It feels better in my hand, the screen is more responsive and image quality is a notch better.  But as James Kara eluded to in the forums discussion, the LG Quantum may change the playing field when it's released. Focus or Surround or Quantum, choices are a good thing to have and one thing is for certain AT&T has built up a rather nice Windows Phone line-up.

So, what's your preference? Feel free to join the conversation over in the forums and make your case for either Windows Phone.

George is the Reviews Editor at Windows Central, concentrating on Windows 10 PC and Mobile apps. He's been a supporter of the platform since the days of Windows CE and uses his current Windows 10 Mobile phone daily to keep up with life and enjoy a game during down time.

  • I really like my Focus and have no problem getting used to the side Power button. That was what the Tilt1 had so I'm still used to that, although my last phone before I switched was a Tilt2, but I had no problem going back to the side power button.
  • Focus beats Surround thumbs down I believe. I played with both the phones before buying well more with Surround at Local Store of Best Buy starting 4th of November and wanted to play with Focus before making purchase and went to AT&T store here and played with it on 6th of November and felt the difference. It may be minimal and but definitely that made the purchasing decision. Bout focus on 8th November@9.00AM. It works like a charm. But it depends on suits and tastes of the beholder. For me Focus is what I wanted.
  • Still trying to decide personally. Would prolly gow with Focus, but it really seems like a finger print magent with that plasticy shell. The one at the AT&T store was covered in prints, even the screen. They also had a Quantum on display, which I have to say was very nice in person, and that keyboard is stellar! Making things very complicated!
  • I think I am going with the Focus... It is a shame that the writer didn't include aspects of the MicroSD...
  • While I am liking the focus, the SD card issues and no front facing LED for notifications/reminders I am thinking I would have chosen differently. The screen is beautiful, I can't argue that but the two flaws as I see them (SD and LED) are basic cell phone needs.
  • I like the Surround and Mozart,especially Mozart's back ,it's really sexy,and the HTC Phone's materials and texture are awsome!!!
  • Samsung, unlike HTC, are infamous for having a relatively poor build quality, and they have done nothing to address the problem with the Samsung Focus.