Samsung Omnia (Verizon Wireless) review: Samsung Omnia (Verizon Wireless)

In addition to the 3G capabilities, lo and behold, you also get integrated Wi-Fi. We always like having another option for connecting to the Web, especially if you're out of network coverage and it's also faster, so we're glad to see the wireless option on the Omnia. For Web browsing, you can use Internet Explorer Mobile but the Samsung Omnia also ships with the Opera Mobile Web browser. With Opera, you can open numerous tabs, zoom in pages by double-tapping the touch screen, bookmark sites, and much more.

The Omnia offers integrated GPS/A-GPS for navigation capabilities. To get a fix on your location, the smartphone will use both satellites and cellular triangulation but for real-time turn-by-turn directions, traffic data, and more, you will need to subscribe to Verizon's VZ Navigator location-based service, which costs $9.99 per month or $2.99 per day. Unfortunately, VZ Navigator was not activated on your review unit, so we weren't able to truly test the GPS capabilities.

The Omnia runs Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional Edition with all the usual trimmings, including the Microsoft Office Mobile Suite and support for Microsoft's Direct Push Technology for real-time message delivery and automatic synchronization with your Outlook calendar, tasks, and contacts via Exchange Server. The Omnia can also be configured to access your POP3 and IMAP e-mail accounts. There are plenty of other PIM tools to keep you on task and organized, including a task list, a task manager and switcher, a smart converter, a calculator, and a PDF reader, among other things. You can also download more programs, games, and utilities from the Verizon AppZone. Some sample titles include Spb Backup, Agenda One, iSS Mine Sweeper, PhatPad, and more.

For fun, the Omnia offers several multimedia features. In addition to the standard Windows Media Player 10 Mobile, Samsung includes something called the Touch Player, which features a nicer user interface and functionality similar to, but not as streamlined, as the iPhone's Cover Flow. Supported music and video formats include MP3, WMA, AAC, eAAC+, MP4, 3GPP, H.264, DivX, and Xvid. Other goodies include podcast support, a streaming media player, and an FM radio, though you have to use the included headset for the latter. While the unlocked version of the Omnia was offered in 16GB and 8GB capacities, Verizon will only offer the 8GB model. Still, that's a lot of memory and you have the microSD/SDHC slot for expansion capabilities (accepts up to 16GB cards).

The Samsung Omnia features a 5-megapixel camera with flash and other advanced features.

The Omnia comes equipped with a 5-megapixel camera with a slew of advanced features. In addition to video recording and digital zoom, you get a flash, auto focus, panorama mode, antishake, face detection, and SmileShot (can detect when someone is smiling and automatically take a picture) just to name a few. For still images, there are three quality settings and six size options. You have a grand total of 15 shooting modes, ranging from sports to sunset to fireworks as well as white balance adjustment, various effects, ISO settings, and much more. You can even geotag your photos with the embedded GPS radio. In video mode, you don't get as many tools, but you still get three size and three quality choices.

The Omnia's camera took high-quality photos.

Picture quality was excellent. The antishake feature really made a difference in getting clear shots as we tried taking photos both ways, and got blurry images when the function was turned off. Colors looked good, and video quality was also pretty good, with just some slight pixelation. Once done, you can, of course, send your photos via e-mail or multimedia message. The Omnia also has a Digital Frame application that displays the time and date, while rotating through your photo gallery in the background. Finally, you get TV-out capabilities, and a video-editing application is included on the device in case you want to make a quick movie on the spot.

We tested the dual-band (CDMA 850/1900; EV-DO Rev. A) Samsung Omnia in San Francisco using Verizon Wireless service and call quality was good. There was minimal background distraction and voices sounded rich and clear on our end, and we had no problems using an airline's voice-automated response system. On the other end, callers said we sounded mostly clear with just some slight echoing. When we activated the speakerphone, call quality diminished slightly. Voices sounded somewhat robotic and we also had problems finding the perfect volume. To hear our friends, we had to turn the volume up to the second highest level, but then audio sounded blown out. However, if we moved it down one notch, it was too soft. We successfully paired the Omnia with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset and the Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Headphones.

On more than one occasion, we saw the little Windows pinwheel spin round and round as we waited for the Samsung Omnia to launch an application. The lag in performance was usually just a matter of a few seconds, but it was noticeable. That said, the device was definitely more responsive than the BlackBerry Storm and the system didn't freeze or crash during our test period. There is also a Task Manager in the Settings menu to help manage your running applications and optimize your smartphone's performance.

Using Verizon's EV-DO Rev. A network, it took the Omnia about 25 seconds to fully load in the Opera Web browser while the mobile sites for CNN and ESPN came up in about 10 to 15 seconds. Our review unit also had no problem detecting and connecting to our Wi-Fi network. Music playback sounded a bit hollow through the phone's speakers, and unfortunately, the Omnia features a proprietary jack and not a 3.5mm headphone jack. The good news is that there's an audio adapter included in the box, so you can still plug in a nice pair of earbuds or headphones. Video playback was smooth with decent quality.

The Samsung Omnia has a rated talk time of 5.7 hours and up to 19 days of standby time. In our battery drain tests, we were able to get 8 hours on continuous talk time on a single charge. According to the FCC radiation tests, the Omnia has a digital SAR rating of 1.31 watts per kilogram.

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