i8910HD review

4 stars
It’s certainly a chunky monkey, but Samsung’s HD-shooting camphone has a strong case for being the world’s best media phone

Some people find Apple’s iPhone too big for daily use. If this sounds like you, look away now – Samsung’s i8910HD, the successor to its Omnia i900, is even bigger.

There are, of course, very good reasons for this. Its face is home to a hugely impressive 3.7in display, one of the largest we’ve seen on a phone and bigger than the LG Viewty Smart’s 3in and iPhone 3G S’ 3.5in efforts. It can also shoot 720p, a first for a mobile phone.

Widescreen display

The display is very good quality too. It has 640x360 resolution – the same as the Nokia N97 – and offers a very vivid, colourful picture, thanks to the same AMOLED tech that was a standout success on the Samsung Tocco Ultra Edition. It’s so good some of the wallpapers might even be too bright for comfort.

Fortunately, the touchscreen is capacitive rather than resistive too, which means it’s much more responsive to fingers than the stylus required to use its predecessor, the Omnia i900. One slight annoyance, though, is that you need to double-tap some menu items, which makes it a little less intuitive than it might have been.

Happy snapping

The i8910HD’s headline feature is, of course, its camera. Not only does it have an 8MP sensor, but the ability to shoot 720p at 24fps makes it a competitor for the likes of the Flip Mino HD.

Sadly, it’s only a qualified success. The photos it produces look rich and detailed, and there are plenty of features, including face detection and panorama shots (both of which are becoming standard fare on dedicated camphones).

But there’s still considerable shutter lag, which is annoying. Plus, of course, there’s no optical zoom, which would make it unacceptably bulky, but still means it can’t be considered a replacement for your compact.

Hi-def joy

The HD recording, though, is a welcome extra. You can set the image size from 320x240 pixels right up to the HD resolution of 1280x720. Low light is unsurprisingly quite challenging, though well-lit scenes look fantastic.

The lack of optical zoom was again a nuisance, and the large screen was hard to see in sunlight. But playback is smooth and pin-sharp (assuming your filming is, of course).

Symbian engine

One of the i8910HD’s biggest changes from its predecessor – and main reasons why it’s lost the ‘Omnia’ name – is that its OS is built on Symbian S60 rather than Windows Mobile.

This doesn’t have a huge impact for casual users. Samsung has skinned the Symbian engine with its now familiar widgets, which slide in and out of view with one tap on the side of the screen.

It’s better implemented than on the smaller Tocco Ultra Edition, with smarter ways to launch them. Still, weather widget and Bluetooth apart, you may find a more traditional menu system is easier to use.

Animated face

That’s here too – just one swipe of the screen activates neat animations to spin the screen to the menu. The i8910HD’s very keen on its animations: change page in the browser and it spins it into view through 360 degrees. While it works well, it’s very much a case of try before you buy.

The browser is decent enough though we weren’t able to make the most of the high data speeds (7.2Mbps downstream and an unusually high 5.76Mbps up) as there are few transmitters capable of handling those speeds yet.

The Samsung i8910HD is exclusive to Orange for now, and the GPS in the phone is used to power Orange Maps, included in some tariffs with its turn-by-turn navigation and directions for walking or driving. These are, though, features now available on the iPhone 3G S, thanks to its new TomTom app.

Musical talent

In all, the i8910HD packs in a lot of features, and most are very well executed. It has (hooray!) a 3.5mm headphone jack and 8GB of built-in storage to please audiophiles.

And if you want the combination of a big screen and capable camera, it’s an outstanding choice. But with the iPhone 3G S, Palm Pre and HTC Magic all backed by thriving app stores, it still looks destined to become a smartphone bridesmaid.

 

says

i8910HD

Feature-packed and great for shooting video, but far from a discreet evening-out phone
i8910HD review
4 stars
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