First debuting at GSMA 2009, the Samsung i890 Omnia HD turned heads with its gorgeous touch screen and high-end multimedia features. Though it has yet to be released in the United States, Samsung kindly provided us with an unlocked version of the device to try out, and it's certainly impressive. The Omnia HD offers an 8-megapixel camera with HD video recording and playback, smartphone capabilities, heaps of storage, and a much improved TouchWiz interface. On the other hand, since it's not a U.S. version, it lacks support for our 3G bands and call quality could have been better. Is it worth the $600 to $700 to buy an unlocked version? Well, if you have the money to burn (lucky you) and crave the advanced multimedia features, sure. We'd even say it's a better buy than the Nokia N97. However, for most, we'd say just wait as Samsung has a number of U.S. devices planned for the fall and winter season, including the Samsung Omnia 2 for Verizon Wireless.
Given the Samsung i8910 Omnia HD's extra-large display, it's no surprise that the smartphone is on the bulkier side. The handset measures 4.8 inches tall by 2.3 inches wide by 0.5 inch thick and weighs 5.2 ounces, and it's the longer length that makes it a bit of an uncomfortable fit in a pants pocket. That said, it's a very solidly built phone and not bad looking either with its black lacquered finish and silver accents.
However, the real head-turning feature of the smartphone is its 3.7-inch AMOLED capacitive touch screen that displays 16 million colors at a 360x640 pixel resolution. AMOLED stands for Active-Matrix OLED; we won't get into the technical explanation here, but the advantage of an AMOLED display is that colors appear brighter, images and videos look sharper, and it consumes less power than standard LCDs. While we are still conducting battery tests, we can definitely say that the Omnia HD's display is stunning. Everything from menu icons to photos to Web pages looked smooth and vibrant.
Not only does the display look beautiful, but it's also functional. There's a built-in accelerometer so the screen orientation will automatically switch from portrait to landscape mode when you rotate the phone. Meanwhile, a proximity sensor locks the touch screen when you're on a phone call in order to prevent any accidental presses as you hold the handset up to your ear. Both are responsive and unlike some handsets, the accelerometer works in all apps.
As with the first Omnia, the i890 Omnia HD uses Samsung's TouchWiz user interface, which lets you customize your Home screen with different widgets. There is a tray located on the left side with various applications, such as your calendar, music player, Facebook, and clock, where you can then drag and drop these widgets to the main screen so they're easily accessible to you from the home page. Once you've customized the phone to your liking, you can collapse and hide the tray by tapping the arrow button.
While the premise is the same, Samsung has made several enhancements to the user interface that makes TouchWiz much more easy to use and functional. For one, the company has expanded the widget list considerably and added two more panels on which you can add widgets. This prevents the home screen from being too cluttered and it also gives you the option to more neatly organize the widgets; for example, one panel can be dedicated to multimedia while another is for more personal organization apps. There's also a permanent toolbar that appears along the bottom of the display that gives you access to the phone app, your contacts, messages, and main menu. Pressing the latter will take you to a grid of all the core functions and applications of the smartphone.
As far as text entry, you get a soft QWERTY keyboard in landscape mode, while you only get an alphanumeric keypad in portrait mode. However, the keyboard is pretty spacious, so we didn't have too many problems typing messages.
Below the display, there are Talk and End/power keys as well as a menu button. On the left side, there's a volume rocker and a microSD expansion slot, while the right side features a lock button, a camera activation/capture key, and much to our delight, a Micro-USB port rather than Samsung's proprietary connector. The top of the unit holds a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack and on back, you'll find the camera and flash.
Our Samsung Omnia HD came packaged with an AC adapter, a USB cable, a wired stereo headset, video out cables, a software CD, and reference material. Since the phone has not been released for the United States, the travel charger features a European/Asian plug so you will need to get an international adapter. Alternatively, you can use any Micro-USB charger. For more add-ons, please check our cell phone accessories, ringtones, and help page.
The Samsung i890 Omnia HD's headliner is its multimedia capabilities, so we only feel it proper to start with those first. Imaging is a strong point as the smartphone is equipped with an 8-megapixel camera that can record HD video. The camera offers a plethora of options, including six shooting modes, 14 scene settings, and eight resolutions as well as more advanced settings, such as ISO and blink detection. Meanwhile, you can record video in one of four modes and four resolutions. There are also some shared settings between the camera and camcorder, including white balance, anti-shake, and Wide Dynamic Range.
Picture quality was indeed impressive. Most camera phones have had problems with our standard indoor shot (below), but the Omnia HD produced a very clear image with rich colors without any weird bluish or amber overtones. We also shot several videos at 1,280x720-pixel resolution and for a camera phone, the video quality was definitely good. The picture was sharp and action scenes weren't blurry or pixelated. However, we did notice that the camcorder had some trouble in bright sunlight as the picture was blown out.