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iPhone killer: Samsung Omnia offers 'everything'

Omnia is Latin for everything, and Samsung is intent on keeping that promise by piling everything into the Omnia minus the kitchen sink or a keyboard.

Mapping on Samsung Omnia

Is it possible to write about Samsung's latest announcement without referring to the iPhone? Too late.

In Singapore for CommunicAsia 2008, Samsung has announced Omnia — a Windows Mobile 6.1 touchscreen smartphone. The fact that Omnia is being announced a week after the Steve Jobs iPhone 3G song and dance at WWDC 08 is probably no coincidence, nor is the fact that Samsung will ensure that Omnia is in stores by July (in Europe at any rate).

While the iPhone announcement may have left many tech-savvy pundits cold — well, those not foaming at the mouth with a bad case of Mac rabies — the i900 seems set to live up to its Latin name, Omnia, meaning everything.

In terms of the hardware, the iPhone comparisons are startling; with nearly identical physical dimensions, touchscreen input, accelerometer, GPS, and the choice of 8GB and 16GB models. In almost all other areas, Omnia leaves the iPhone for dead. It has 7.2Mbps HSDPA data, memory expansion up to an extra 16GB via MicroSDHC, a 5-megapixel camera with auto-focus and image stabilisation, and video codec recognition including DivX, Xvid, WMV and H.264. In fact, every feature absent in the iPhone 3G is found in the i900, including simple things like MMS and A2DP stereo Bluetooth.

The two major battlegrounds in this head-to-head will be the user interface and battery life: two major selling points for the first generation iPhone. Early battery life figures from Apple suggest the new 3G hardware may pull these figures back into line with the averages seen in its competition, but the interface will be no less sexy and easy-to-use.

Omnia uses Samsung's TouchWIZ UI, which includes a scrolling vertical panel of widgets on the home screen. It's a nifty idea and appears to be quite responsive, but we'll have to wait and see how the mobile public take to it. Battery life could be the Achilles' heel for the Omnia, not that we've seen official Samsung battery ratings yet, but all that tech will certainly chew through the juice.

To see how this battle plays out, we'll have to wait until July when we can get both phones in our Labs. There's no word yet on pricing for the Omnia but we'll be sure to keep you in the loop as soon as we find out.

Joseph Hanlon travelled to CommunicAsia as a guest of Samsung.