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Symbian OS S60 3rd & 5th Edition Section: Introduction/Reviews of S60 3rd & 5th Edition smartphones
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  Samsung Omnia HD in short
- Symbian OS v9.4
- S60 5th Edition
- OMAP3430 CPI @ 600 MHz
- ARM Cortex A8 core
- PowerVG SGX530 GPU
- 256 MB RAM, 140 MB free
- 8/16 GB storage + microSD slot
- 8 Megapixel camera
- HD 720p video recording
- 3.7" capacitive AMOLED screen
- nHD (640x360) resolution
- A-GPS
- HSDPA 7.2 / HSUPA 5.7


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Samsung Omnia HD i8910 review
Michal Jerz, June 2009



Announced on February 16th, 2009, Samsung's Omnia HD (i8910) is this manufacturer's first S60 5th Edition touchscreen smartphone, and - as its name suggests - the first one on the market supporting HD 720p (1280x720) video recording. But that's not all, and not even the most important. The biggest news is the powerful hardware inside, one generation ahead compared to all existing Symbian OS devices, including the latest ones like e.g. the Nokia N97 (to be reviewed shortly). These high end technical specifications are strong enough to make the i8910 the most powerful smartphone based on Symbian OS and actually one of the best mobile devices made up to date; the question is if its design and system software do take proper advantage and make good use of its capabilities and deliver performance, usability and quality one could expect from such a powerful hardware. Hopefully this review will - at least partially - answer this question and help you in making decision whether the Omnia HD is a good choice for you...

PART I: HARDWARE

This is the first part of the review describing hardware features. The second part - Software - will be available shortly. Stay tuned.


Processors

Yes, that's the biggest news. With the Omnia HD, Samsung broke at least THREE "standards" shaping the Symbian OS world. Unlike all other manufacturers of S60 phones faithfully continuing to use trusty ARM11 processors and only trying to squeeze out more power from them by upping their frequencies (e.g. the N97 pushed to 434 MHz compared to 369 MHz on the 5800, or the 5630 XM clocked at 600 MHz) Samsung went one step further and for the first time ever on the Symbian platform equipped the Omnia HD with the next-generation OMAP3 (OMAP3430 to be exact) processor. The only existing smartphone I am aware of using this processor is the Palm Pre, to be followed by the recently announced Sony Ericsson Satio (a.k.a Idou), the new iPhone 3G S and the rumoured upcoming Nokia N900 Internet Tablet.

So, what's so special about it? Let the specifications speak for themselves. Texas Instruments OMAP3430 (made in 65 nm technology) is a dual-core processor (which means that it contains an ARM host CPU and one or more DSPs) consisting of ARM Cortex A8 application processor running at 600 MHz, PowerVR SGX530 GPU (graphics acceleration processor) and TMS320C64x DSP/ISP (Digital/Image Signal Processor taking care of telephony, data transmission, image processing, etc) running at 430 MHz. Sounds too complicated? Too compare, the N97 is based on a single-core processor running at 434 MHz (i.e. 164 MHz / 27% less) having to do all the work by itself, as it does not contain GPU for graphics acceleration, nor the remaining accelerators. This should give you an idea of how much more powerful the OMAP3430 is.

For those interested in more details, let's take a closer look at what's inside the OMAP3430. The ARM Cortex A8 (ARMv7-A architecture) is the main core powering the operating system and applications, running at 600 MHz and delivering up to 2000 Dhrystone MIPS (to compare, ARMv6 architecture based ARM1136 processor used in e.g. Nokia N97 provides up to 740 MIPS). This core offers as spectacular features as 13-stage superscalar pipeline (the first superscalar CPU in a Symbian phone) with advanced dynamic branch prediction achieving 2.0 DMIPS/MHz, VFP (vector floating-point computation accelerating voice compression, 3D graphics and audio), NEON (64 and 128 bit SIMD instruction set accelerating multimedia and signal processing), Jazelle RCT (Java acceleration and JIT compilation), Thumb-2 (extended 32-bit instruction set, bit-field manipulation, table branches, and conditional execution), integrated L1 and L2 caches and more.

PowerVR SGX530 is a "Series5" GPU (graphics accelerator) from Imagination Technologies, including pixel, vertex, and geometry shader hardware. It includes fully programmable universal scalable shader architecture and delivers performance of 14 MPolys/s and full support for OpenGL ES 2.0. To compare, Nokia's OMAP2420-based phones (e.g. N93, N95, N82, E90) contain older PowerVR MBX GPU supporting OpenGL ES 1.x, and Freescale MXC300-30 based ones (like the N97, 5800 XpressMusic, N75, etc.) do not contain a GPU at all.




The TMS320C64x DSP/ISP core (running at 430 MHz) takes care of all kinds of digital signal processing. It frees the main core from having to spend precious cycles on handling baseband (voice communication and data transmission) and speeds up image processing. To compare, Nokia's OMAP2420-based phones include older C55x (rather than 64x) DSP running at 220 MHz (i.e. almost twice slower) and the Freescale MXC300-30 based models incorporate StarCore SC140e DSP operating at up to 250 MHz.

To recap, what we get is a high-performance mobile computer with a processor delivering up to 2000 Dhrystone MIPS (actually slightly less at 600 MHz, but still within the 1000-2000 MIPS range), i.e. more than average Pentium-III processor, with powerful OpenGL ES 2.0 capable hardware 2D/3D acceleration quite sufficient for a full-featured mobile game console and high-end multimedia player and recorder. Texas Instruments' technical specifications mention performance increase of over 3x (and over 4x in multimedia applications) compared to older processors used in other S60 phones. Right, it's no longer the only smartphone using this outstanding processor, but it's the only one at the moment really UTILIZING its great multimedia and computing performance thanks to being a MULTITASKING device equipped with an 8 Megapixel/HD camera vs. poor 3 MPix/VGA on the Palm Pre or non-multitasking iPhone 3G S.

Because one picture is worth more than 1000 words, the best way to show how much faster the Omnia HD is compared to other S60 5th Edition devices is the following video presenting the i8910 and the Nokia N97 running the same Speedy Go! speed test. Please note how the graphic tests (especially the sliding colour and grey bars) run MUCH faster on the Omnia and how much longer (almost TWICE!) the whole test lasts on the N97. It's worth remembering that Speedy Go! does not test advanced features like 3D/SVG grapics, multimedia, etc., so it does not take full advantage of Omnia HD's powerful CPU and GPU. If it did, the speed difference would be even higher! The upcoming "Software" part of the review will contain further benchmarks.

But all of the above wouldn't be possible if Samsung didn't break another annoying "standard" of Symbian OS smartphones, i.e.

Memory

While all other manufacturers of S60 phones literally got stuck at 128 MB of DRAM (operating memory for OS and program execution), Samsung - again - went one step further and equipped the Omnia i8910 HD with TWICE MORE RAM, i.e. 256 MB. Why is it important and why 128 MB is not enough these days? Mainly because the operating system of a smartphone loads itself to this memory on start and also reserves some of it for its own use, leaving only a fraction free for the user and third party applications. RAM is the memory needed by programs to run. It's the size of free RAM that decides how many applications you can run at once (that obviously only on multitasking platforms; it does not apply to e.g. the iPhone which cannot really multitask no matter how much free RAM it has), how many web pages you can open simultaneously, etc. Having too little RAM affects functionality of a phone and restricts its multitasking capabilities...

128 MB of RAM seemed to be an acceptable - or maybe even optimal - memory size on S60 3rd Edition devices with the "Demand Paging" technology reducing memory consumption, like e.g. the E90 Communicator or the N82, leaving about 80-90 MB free RAM for the user. Things changed considerably with the S60 5th Edition, consuming much more RAM by the OS/UI itself. The first S60 5th Edition device, the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, leaves only about 58 MB (out of 128) free on start. As if even that wasn't enough, the recently launched N97 goes even further (most probably because of its advanced home screen with widget support) and only leaves... 38-40 MB free operating memory. Now, that's a real DISASTER.

And here comes the Omnia HD with its 256 MB DRAM, providing almost 140 MB free RAM with the system fully loaded and running, which is almost THREE TIMES MORE than the N97. It does not need further comments....

The Omnia HD also offers plenty of storage memory. In addition to moderately small (about 50 MB free) disk C: (internal storage memory, mainly for system use), it also contains 8 GB or 16 GB (depending on model, 8 GB in the reviewed version) of built-in Flash storage memory (disk E:) and additionally has a memory card slot for microSD cards (visible as disk F:) up to 32 GB, i.e. providing up to 40/48 GB of storage memory in total. Does anyone need more?

8 Megapixels and High Definition video

is the third aforementioned "new standard" where the Omnia HD stands out compared not only to other Symbian OS devices but actually to all currently available mobile devices. Right, the 8 Megapixel camera has already been known from other Samsung smartphones (including the S60-based Innov8) and is going to be dethroned by the recently announced 12 Megapixel Sony Ericsson Satio/Idou (that's of course if and when they launch it) but at the moment it is still the highest-resolution and best-quality camera on a mobile phone, especially compared to the just announced (and promoted as the most advanced mobile device) iPhone 3G S' pitiful 3 Mpix one and equally poor Palm Pre's. The camera is marked as having a "High definition lens" (and that's where it differs from the one of the Innov8), 4.78 mm focal length (unfortunately, without information about what's the "crop factor", i.e. how it translates to 35 mm equivalent FL), an aperture of f/2.6 (slightly faster than f/2.8 on the N97) and ISO sensitivity up to 1600. It is supported with a LED flash, quite decent camera button (i.e. with clearly perceptible two-step operation for AF and taking the shot), contrast detection-based autofocus and a rich choice of modes, special effects and settings, described in the "Software" chapter.

OK, so the camera is 8 MPix (3265x2448 pixels). Is it? It's actually much more correct to say that the IMAGING SENSOR is 8 Mpix. But there's also a lens covering it, not to mention that protective piece of plastic on top of it. While the sensor indeed generates 8 Megapixel images, the actual detailness of pictures highly depends on the optical resolution of the lens, i.e. its ability to resolve detail (optical quality of the glass letting more or less detail pass through it to the sensor). The truth is, that even mid-range dSLR lenses of diameters measured in centimetres often have problems with delivering optical resolution matching high resolution sensors, so how can a lens of a mobile phone with 2 mm diameter do it? Shortly speaking, it can't. This means that while the resulting image file consists of 8 million pixels, the level of detail of pictures is actually by an order of magnitude lower. This is why the images appear sharp when watched at magnifications lower than 1:1 but turn out to be somehow smooth or a little bit blurry at 100% magnification. It's a result of the optical resolution of the lens being lower than the resolution of the sensor, causing that each group of several neighbouring photosites (pixels) of the sensor get the same piece of information (detail). So, shortly speaking, the sensor creates 8 Megapixel files but with level of magnitude less worth detail.

Now a word of clarification. I am mentioning this NOT to indicate that the camera of the Omnia HD is a bad one. As I wrote, it's actually the best camera phone on the market and the above rant about optical resolution of the lens does not change it at all. It's just to help you understand how cameras work. I described it in this review and not in any previous one of any other camera phone simply because it's one of the first camera phone actually WORTH getting into such details. Even though the actual level of detail is lower than the advertised 8 Megapixels, it's actually not unique to this phone model or manufacturer but it's a common thing to all camera phones. With one important difference: the lens of the Omnia i8910 is a "high definition" one, i.e. optimized to support recording of HD 720p video, which is 1280x720 i.e. about 1 Megapixel. This ensures that the optical resolution of the lens at least isn't lower than that, which is not guaranteed by lenses of other camera phones.




And even if the actual detail level is lower than 8 MPix, having 8 Megapixel images is actually a GOOD thing, because they allow for more postprocessing. Download the picture to your PC, crop what's not needed, resize, rotate a bit to make things level, add a nice frame, etc. and you still have a 4-5 Megapixel image suitable for printing. Resizing 8 Megapixels down to e.g. 5 MPix may also turn out to be a good way to sharpen them and remove noise. Owners of 3 Megapixel cameras do not have such a freedom...

Anyway, just take a look at the following samples and judge their quality yourself...

How about performance of the camera? It's FAST (for a camera phone). I mean, I use a dSLR camera daily so I got used to its instant autofocus and for me actually anything else is deadly slow but trying to assess the speed in terms of what's doable on a camera phone, the Omnia HD is definitely faster than others. While the contrast-based autofocus still takes about 2-3 seconds (it involves moving the lens back and forth and thus it is limited by the performance of the mechanical parts driving the lens) or more in poor lighting conditions, taking the image, processing and saving it is simply instantaneous. And so is applying different kinds of effects. That's the advantage of Omnia's fast CPU. Even though the i8910 has to process 8 Megapixel files, it's faster than what it takes other phones to process 3 or 5 Megapixel ones.

One more thing worth separately mentioning here is the sensitivity of the sensor. It ranges from ISO 100 to 1600, matching what's available on today's digicams, not just in terms of such a high ISO being present but also in terms of quality / noise levels. ISO 100 mode is actually noiseless, even in low light. ISO 200 actually isn't worse, either. Maybe a little bit of chromatic "grain" appears in low light or in dark areas (but still on an ignorable level) but there's no trace of luma (i.e. colour) noise at all. In ISO 400 chromatic noise starts being visible (yet not exceeding what mid-range digicams deliver at this sensitivity) but there's still very little of luma noise. Things start getting a little bit noisy at ISO 800, with both chroma and luma noise being visible, as well as some banding (horizontal bands formed by noise), but mostly in dark parts of the image. Only ISO 1600 is really noisy, mostly because of severe red and blue luma noise and apparent banding, but again, it's not something a typical digicam wouldn't suffer from on comparable levels at that sensitivity. Shortly speaking, in terms of high ISO noise the Omnia HD does not lose the battle, especially that its f/2.8 lens is fast enough to use ISO modes lower than 800 in most cases, and its built-in digital stabilization also helps using lower ISOs to obtain unblurred shots. Just reserve ISO 800 and 1600 to special cases when it's not possible to obtain an unblurred shot in lower sensitivities and you cannot use the flash (e.g. because it's forbidden) or simply let the AutoISO mode choose the right sensitivity for you automatically.

Omnia HD obviously supports video calls (i.e. yet another thing that the new OMAP3-based iPhone 3G S still cannot do, but we should not be too much demanding as they've only finished adding MMS support after more than 2 years...) and has a secondary VGA camera serving this puropse on its front side. You can use it for other things, too, but why would you...?

Now the best part, i.e. the High Definition video recording, for the first time on a mobile phone. Omnia HD records video in the HD 720p (i.e. so-called "HD ready") resolution consisting of 1280x720 pixels. And yes, it's really THAT resolution, and not any kind of interpolation or other digital software processing. This results in videos being EXTREMELY detailed, something not seen ever before on a mobile phone. Honestly! Moreover, there's no trace of any compression artefacts or other undesired distortions. Videos are clear, properly focused and sharp. And that's the good news. Unfortunately, there are some bad (well, not really bad, just worse) news, too. The first one is that HD videos don't fully match the HD standard because of their frame rate, which is between 20-21 frames per second instead of the advertised 24 fps. It is sufficient in most cases not to affect video quality but in some circumstances (like e.g. dim lighting and fast move) it sometimes results in fast motion being blurred, semi-transparent or unsmooth. This reduced frame rate probably results from hardware limitations. OMAP3430 specifications mention that the IVA 2+ (Image Video Audio) accelerator inside the processor enables multi-standard (MPEG4, WMV9, RealVideo, H263, H264) encode/decode at D1 (720x480 pixels) 30 fps, so going HD 720p most probably required cutting down the frame rate to keep the total bandwidth (of about 7.5 Mbit/s) within the supported range. The question is if we should complain about it while no other mobile phone comes even close, not to mention offering anything better than that....?

The following two sample video recordings (HD 720p) show quality in good lighting conditions. The second part of the review will contain some samples taken in dim light and with some fast motion. Click the thumbnails to download the videos (in MP4 format).


The second issue that lots of people have been complaining about is quality of audio accompanying video recordings, stored in AMR 8-bit format. While the sound is mostly clear and the microphone is quite sensitive, one could expect better audio parameters (at least optionally, or maybe at least just in the VGA resolution recording mode). More about the camcorder function, including description of its recording modes, settings and available effects, as well as more samples, will be posted in the "Software" chapter.

Screen

This is where the Omnia HD stands out again, providing the biggest display of all S60 devices, except for the internal screen of the E90 Communicator. While its resolution is the same as of the remaining S60 5th Edition devices (nHD, i.e. 360x640 pixels), there are three things that make it unique: the physical size (3.7"), AMOLED technology (Active-Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode) making it bright, vivid and clear, and being a CAPACITIVE display, rather than resistive like remaining 5th Edition phones (read more about differences between resistive and capacitive screens on this Wikipedia page). Shortly speaking, there is no stylus and unlike other 5th Edition devices the Omnia HD is fully and only finger-controlled (3rd party capacitive stylii are available if you prefer so).

Having such a large screen (even if it has the same resolution) is better than a smaller screen in every way. It is better for video playback, navigation, easier to use as a camera viewfinder, and also more convenient to control the UI and type text as the virtual keyboard's keys and all UI elements (buttons, sliders, etc) are simply bigger, i.e. easier to hit. Thanks to being a capacitive screen, it also has less touch sensitive layers over the actual matrix, which - along with it being AMOLED - makes it really bright (brightness is automatically controlled by a light sensor or can be set manually) and vivid. It seems to be durable and well protected as it haven't got any scratches after few weeks of use.

The only slighly annoying issue with the display is that it is sensitive to accidental touch at its very edges. It often happens that I want to just grab the phone and I accidentally subtly touch the display at its very edge and it's enough to lauch an application... Fortunately, the screen can be locked (by pushing and holding the LOCK button on the upper right; I somehow prefer Nokia's sliding Lock buttons) or set to lock automatically, which helps prevent such accidental taps, but making the display somehow less sensitive at its very edges in future firmware updates would be very helpful.

Build quality

Of course, after few weeks of use it's impossible to say how long it will take before e.g. some paint will start coming off or when/if the casing will start to squeak. But the initial impression is GOOD and the Omnia HD feels robust and durable. All plastics are hard and thick, the silver frame around the display and all buttons seem to be of high quality, everything is well fitted and gives you a feeling of a well made product and quality materials. The monoblock design is also an advantage when it comes to durability as there are no moving parts or mechanisms (spring loaded sliders, hinges, covers, etc) which simply means less things to wear out and break. As already mentioned, the screen seems to be well protected, too. At least I didn't manage to scratch it so far.

Audio/Video

Dual stereo speakers are located on top and bottom (or left and right when held horizontally) of the device, and provide loud and clear playback (well, what's loud for me doesn't have to be loud enough for you; I've seen people complaining about the loudness so better check it yourself). In my opinion, they're noticeably louder (and IMHO of better quality) than on the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic or the N97. Headphone connector (standard 3.5 mm stereo TSR jack) is located on top of the device and protected with a small plastic cover. It also supports TV out (SD PAL/NTSC resolution only) and works well with e.g. Nokia TV out cable. Unfortunately, the phone does NOT have a HDMI out, or actually any other HD connector and the only way to output HD content seems to be DLNA/UPnP technology. And that's a serious disadvantage...

Back to audio, quality via headphones is very decent, but could be a little bit louder and have some more bass. The i8910 supports virtual 5.1 channel playback (via headphone connector only) as well as several 3D sound effects (some of them only via headphones). There's also an equalizer, but unfortunately it only offers 6 built-in EQ settings with no possibility to create your own ones, which is a real pity... Of course, the Omnia HD belongs to Symbian's free world and supports most of popular audio and video file formats and codecs (including MP3, AAC, DivX, etc) and is not restricted to using custom formats like iTunes on the iPhone. More information about the Music player will be presented in the "Software" chapter.

FM radio is also present and - like in all phones - requires connecting a wired headset double-serving as FM antenna in order to work (this is normal and unavoidable; FM band frequencies require an external antenna and small internal antenna cannot be used for FM).

Overall, as a portable audio and video player the Omnia HD performs REALLY WELL and the only serious drawback seems to be the aforementioned lack of HDMI output and EQ restricted to few built-in settings.

Connectivity

The OMAP3430 processor supports HSDPA 7.2 Mbps and HSUPA 5.7 Mbps and so does the Omnia HD, compared to other phones mostly supporting HSDPA 3.6 Mbps, so - again - it pushes the limits a little bit forward. All other connectivity options known from other devices are also there: Wireless LAN (WiFi) b/g, Bluetooth 2.0 +EDR with A2DP and AVRCP, USB 2.0 High Speed (microUSB port double-serving as a charger connector and with USB charging). Everything works as it should and actually the same way as on other S60 phones so getting into details is not really needed. The Omnia HD, like some Nokia S60 phones (e.g. N95, N82, N96, N85, 5630 XM, etc.) also supports DLNA / UPnP which is a standard to allow entertainment devices within the home to share their content (such as photos, music, and videos) with each other across a home network. On the Omnia, DLNA seems to be the only way to directly playback HD video on a HD TV, although I haven't tested it so I can't confirm it. It's just worth mentioning that the Omnia HD is NOT currently listed as a DLNA certified device.

GPS

Like all new S60 phones, the i8910 has a built-in GPS receiver. OMAP processors come with TI's own NaviLink GPS solution. I couldn't find which version precisely (out of three available: 4.0, 5.0 and 6.0) has been used in the Omnia HD but it seems to be a newer version than in Nokia phones judging by its vastly improved TTFF (Time To First Fix, i.e. what lots of S60 phones users complain about) and overall sensitivity. With or without the A-GPS service, the Omnia HD obtains fix considerably quicker than 5800 XM or the N97, also in places without clear view of the sky like indoors, far from the window, with roller blinds down. In these conditions, in the first test the N97 didn't manage to get fix AT ALL (only "seeing" 1-2 satellites and eventually losing them) where the Omnia HD got it in 5 seconds (with 8-9 satellites) and just kept a stable link. The following picture has been taken less than half a minute after enabling GPS on both phones. The Omnia HD kept seeing all these satellites while the N97, as mentioned, eventually lost even that single one and just kept on displaying a message that GPS works poorly indoors, without getting the fix AT ALL, even though it downloaded AGPS data off the Internet server.

In the second test, after rebooting the phones and moving them slightly closer to an open window, the Omnia HD once again got the fix instantly, whereas the N97 this time succeeded but only after 2 minutes 30 seconds. The Omnia instantly locked on 5-7 satellites while the N97 locked on three.

Even though the Omnia HD is a S60 device, it does not come with Nokia Maps and it's not possible to install it as it is blocked by Nokia (due to being signed with a Nokia certificate) from installation on a non-Nokia phone. Instead of this, the i8910 comes with Route 66 navigation suite. Maps are available for free and can be downloaded directly from within the application, from Route66 store. Navigation will be described in more detail in the "Software" part of the review.

i8910 supports the A-GPS function which means that (if enabled) it can download satellite position data from an Internet server rather than from the satellites themselves, which drastically reduces TTFF (time to obtain fix). The A-GPS function can be enabled from the menu and it works the same way as on Nokia S60 phones, i.e. establishes a data connection and downloads small pack of data each time you start an application using the GPS receiver.

Samsung, however, goes one step further again and adds another highly useful tool (known from Windows Mobile based HTC devices) speeding up TTFF. The application (called GPS+, located in Samsung LBS folder) is able to download satellite data valid for the next 7 days. It can be configured to download data automatically (with user chosen intervals: everyday, every 3rd, 5th or 7th day), assuring that you always have an up-to-date and complete set of satellite position data considerably speeding up the time to fix (to just seconds). This not only saves money (no packet connection on every GPS use is needed) but also enables quickly getting the fix in situations where A-GPS cannot be used (e.g. no network coverage).

More details about this service will be available in the "Software" part of the review.

Battery life

The Omnia HD comes with a 1500 mAh battery, i.e. the same capacity as the N97. It's very hard to directly and precisely compare and measure battery life as it depends on too many factors. Based on few weeks of use I can say that both these phones deliver very comparable battery life, which means that Omnia's bigger screen or more powerful processor do not actually consume more power. On typical use, both phones work two days and while used really extensively (lots of phone calls, data transmission, video recording, multimedia) should safely last one full day. HD video recording does not seem to affect battery life in a larger degree than VGA recording on other S60 phones, either. Almost one full hour of video recording (with additional playback to check what has been recorded) only consumed two battery indicator bars out of seven.

Summary of hardware features, advantages and drawbacks

Hardware-wise, the Omnia i8910 definitely is the most powerful Symbian OS device released up to date. In this first part of the review I tried to describe in detail all its hardware features, and the second "Software" part will bring information about the operating system and its performance, built-in applications, compatibility with 3rd party software, firmware updates, home screen and widgets (and how they compare to N97), a summary of software-related advantages and issues, and more. Until the second part is ready, let's make a short summary of what has been covered above.

Advantages:
  • the most powerful CPU of all Symbian OS phones up to date: OMAP3430 with ARM Cortex A8 core running at 600 MHz
  • PowerVR SGX530 GPU (hardware graphics accceleration) delivering OpenGL ES 2.0 support and performance
  • 3x performance boost (and 4x in multimedia applications) compared to other Symbian OS phones based on older processors
  • 256 MB of operating memory (RAM) and almost 140 MB free, compared to 128 MB (and 40-50 MB free) on other S60 5th Edition phones
  • built-in 8 or 16 GB of storage memory + microSD slot for cards up to 32 GB
  • 8 Megapixel camera: fast operation, high sensitivity up to ISO 1600 with low noise up to ISO 800
  • HD 720p (1280x720 pixel) high quality (with virtually no compression artefacts) video recording
  • marvellous AMOLED capacitive display
  • with its 3.7" physical size, the screen is perfect for multimedia playback and navigation, and makes using the device easier as all UI elements (buttons, keys of the virtual keyboard, sliders, etc.) are bigger, i.e. easier to hit
  • build quality is very decent, at least there's nothing to complain about after few weeks of use
  • all connectivity options are included, and some of them exceed current "standards", like e.g. HSDPA 7.2 Mbps / HSUPA 5.7 Mbps
  • GPS receiver seems to be considerably faster and more sensitive than on other S60 5th Edition phones; no problems with obtaining the fix almost instantly even indoors. The GPS+ application can provide AGPS data for the entire week.
  • battery life, despite the powerful processor and large screen, does not seem to be any worse than on other high-end S60 devices.
Disadvantages:
  • HD video recording slightly below actual "HD ready specification" due to frame rate within 20-21 fps range, which in some circumstances results in blurred/unsmooth motion
  • no HDMI (or any other) connector to output HD video via cable to a HD TV
  • low quality of audio (AMR 8-bit) and some issues with it in video recordings
  • the touch screen is "too sensitive" on its edges which often results in accidental touches (e.g. when you grab the phone) being recognized as taps
  • I wouldn't mind more bass via headphones and support for MY OWN equalizer settings but the few built-in ones
  • and.... that's it when it comes to hardware. There are some further issues but they are software-based and will be described in the upcoming "Software" chapter.

Want to know more?

Stay tuned for the upcoming second "Software" part of the review. And if you have any questions regarding the hardware part, or would like to me to answer some specific software-related questions in the second part, please visit our S60 5th Edition Discussion Forum and join the Omnia i8910 HD discussion.



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