Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Samsung Focus Review


          The Samsung Focus is one of the first Windows Phone 7 devices.  As many early adopters know, first iterations of new tech often comes with come kicks. With WP7 being a brand new OS, lets see how this phone performs.


          The first thing you notice when you pick up the Focus is that it feels light, almost too light. It doesn’t feel too fragile, but it does seem like it could be more solid. The actually aesthetics of the device aren’t bad. The front is covered by a nice 4” Super AMOLED display, and on the back you find subtle curvature flowing inwards  towards the middle of the phone.

           The button placement is nice. Along the bottom of the phone it is standard WP7 fare, with the home key in the center, with the search and back buttons to either side. These are very responsive, but the backlighting behind them goes off a bit too soon by default. On the right side of the phone, the power button is easily accessible. You also find a dedicated camera button beneath it, which is nice for the cellular shutterbugs. On the left it is barren, save for the volume control buttons near the top. Along the top of the phone is the 3.5mm headphone input, and the micro USB charging port, which has a nice sliding cover on it to keep dust out.

iPhone 4, Samsung Focus, Motorola Atrix

         Inside is a 1GHz Scorpion processor, and Adreno 200 GPU, 8GB of internal memory, and 512MB of RAM. All of these components pull together to give the user a fairly smooth operating experience.


        WP7 a new OS. With that being said, it could use some polishing. The user interface is a collection of tiles, as Microsoft calls them. The tiles are actually a neat concept, and offer for some customization. You can arrange the square tiles on your phone how you want them, and change the colors of them – though your color options are limited. This is how you access apps quickly. If you want Netflix right on demand, set it as a tile. You can set contacts as a tile, Facebook, the dialer, or pretty much anything. While it’s a neat concept, and the tiles allow you to customize what is inside of them, they get old fairly quickly. The background colors are few –only black and white are available. Without being able to set images as your background, the tiles leave you wanting more after a while.

         The apps for WP7 are interesting. They are unique from most Android and iOS apps in the way which you navigate through them. Most things are done with side to side swiping. Some may like this, some may not. Personally, I think it makes navigating through the Facebook app a little tedious, as it’s easy to swipe sideway accidentally, when you are trying to scroll up and down. 

        The Focus comes preinstalled with AT&T bloatware, which you won’t want. Something nice for WP7 users is the availability of Netflix, this is a huge one-up against Android, which has still failed to deliver Netflix to us.  The Netflix app works pretty well. You’re able to watch instantly, search, tinker with your queue, and everything you expect to be able to do from a mobile device.

         As I stated before, the lack of customization offered is a little annoying. The menus are very straightforward and plain. The Youtube app is also very plain. At this point, the UI is a bit bland in some places. We have to keep in mind WP7 is in it’s infancy though, and will be updated and improved over time. I’m positive that with time, Microsoft will give us more colors and options to choose from.

        The app market is a bit limited at the moment, but it is growing at a decent  rate. By this time next year it will be much larger, Microsoft is trying hard to attract developers and stay competitive.


        The Focus is decently spec’d, so as one might assume from the hardware, it performs admirably most of the time. It is fairly snappy, but can slow down from time to time. Some things, such as opening up Netflix, can take longer than you would like. There were a few instances of apps not responding, or going slow, but no dealbreakers.  

        The phone has good audio quality, but not spectacular. The super AMOLED display is gorgeous though. This is probably the most attractive feature of the phone. For this reason, the Focus is an acceptable phone for people who plan to watch a lot of video, whether through Netflix, or loading movies onto the device yourself.

        The battery life is rated a 6 hours and 30 minutes of talk time. During my use, I never had trouble making it through the day with a mix of internet browsing, netflix, and a bit of talking.


       The Focus is a good phone for being a first. The hardware is nice, though too light to really feel high quality. The main problem is an overall lack of polish, but that will come in time. As the OS is tweaked to give it a bit more flash, and to give users more customization options, it will be a much more attractive alternative. As it is though, it’s a good phone. If you are an AT&T user looking to jump onto the WP7 bandwagon, this phone could be the one for you. You can get it for $0.01 at Amazon.com with a new line, so if you're thinking of making the jump now is a good time. I give it a 7/10.


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