The Samsung Focus is the fourth Windows Phone 7 device we've taken a look at so far. In my opinion, Microsoft's latest foray into the mobile operating system market has been somewhat of a mixed bag, with a lot of potential that was carried out poorly.
With the Samsung Focus, that's still the case. Updates are few and far between, and while we don't want constant updates like other operating systems, it would be nice to have fixes once in a while. With that, let's kick off the review.
So as you all know, Microsoft's spec requirements for any device running Windows Phone 7 are pretty strict. Samsung managed to follow them with the Focus, which has a 4" Super AMOLED screen with a WVGA resolution, a 5MP camera with LED flash, and a 1GHz Snapdragon processor with 512MB of RAM.
Design and Quality
In my opinion, the Focus is somewhat of a bland device.
But that should be expected, as it's kind of AT&T's entry model into Windows Phone 7; it is only $49.99 on a two-year contract. On the bottom of the front of it, you've got that classic array of WP7 buttons, this time in an all capacitive variety. The top of the front houses your earpiece and proximity sensors, and that's all.
However, when we get to the back, things are much, much less bland. And it's an unfortunate turn for the worse. I can't even remember now how many times I've complained about that cheap-feeling plastic. It's slippery and it picks up grease like no other material in the entire world.
Towards the top, you'll find the 5MP camera and LED flash, and to the right of that are the speaker vents. There's nothing near the bottom other than the Windows Phone branding.
The only difference this time is that the Focus uses Samsung's critically acclaimed Super AMOLED display. Colors are bright and vivid and the viewing experience is incredible. However, I've found that it's not very responsive.
Typing is incredibly difficult, and I have no idea why. I don't want to brag, but on the desktop, I get roughly 150 words per minute. Accurately. And on my iPhone? 85 words per minute. Finally, the Samsung Focus? 30. 30 very inaccurate words.
The live tiles on the home screen won't do their thing without a bit of effort, either. What about accurate webpage scrolling, you say? Forget about it. I thought we were over the days of the low-quality hardware, even on lower-end, cheaper smartphones. It upsets me a ton, and I'm almost certain this is a major reason that smartphones still don't have 100% market share. If a normal dumbphone user decided to take the plunge on something with an unreliable touchscreen like this one, do you honestly think that they would stay for another round in the smartphone wars? I don't, and that's why every smartphone manufacturer really needs to step up their game in whatever respective category of hardware they're failing.
Windows Phone 7
Since this is the fourth Windows Phone 7 device that has passed through the hands of the Pocketables staff, I decided that it's truly time to totally rip on whatever's wrong with the operating system. Will I feel bad about it? No. Will I get incredible enjoyment from telling you guys its weaknesses? Of course.
I am sorry to say that even though it was released way back in the October of 2010, WP7 still doesn't have a decent selection of quality apps for its users to take a look at. It's gotten better, sure, but it's definitely not anything even worth comparing to Apple's App Store or Google's Android Market. Free apps are normally junky, coded far below one's expectations, and are riddled with ads. And paid apps are expensive. I don't think I've seen more than five apps at the $0.99 price mark in the sections I frequently look at (utilities and games).
Next up is web browsing. I'm sorry, Microsoft, but even in mobile form, Internet Explorer is still the worst browser and the icon that I hate the most out of every other icon ever made, simply because it is such a nightmare to use on any platform. Why Microsoft can't have another choice of browsers for WP7 or even more browsers in the Market is way beyond me.
Finally, where are my updates?! If you haven't noticed, all of my complaints (as of right now) have to do with software. Software is easily fixable with updates. That is, easily fixable with updates if you get the updates. Microsoft has pushed out one major update to WP7 so far. That update contained cut, copy & paste functionality. Microsoft, please. Not only was that an incredibly needed feature even before the OS was released, but the update didn't even add or fix anything else!
It's disappointing, and I hope Microsoft realizes that a few more updates that help to fix little bugs that make the software unusable would be greatly appreciated by its users.
Shifting gears, the Focus performed acceptably in terms of call quality, but since there is no option to turn off 3G capability, I was forced to use about two bars of service the entire time I was in the town I currently live in. I would really, really appreciate a little more fine control over the piece of hardware, and hopefully that will come in a later update.
The Samsung Focus uses a 1500 mAh battery. On a typical day of use, which included web browsing, email, and listening to music, I was able to get through about three quarters of my day before having to switch to another phone. Again, I think this has to do with the unoptimization that plagues Windows Phone 7. While not as bad as on the other two phones I've reviewed, I did notice the decreased battery life on them, as well.
It's unfortunate that all this stuff must go wrong for Microsoft and its hardware partners. Like I've said before, twice: Windows Phone 7 has so much potential to be great, but the execution on many of the devices on which it runs has been spotty and, so far, not so good.
But, you know, every great operating system had its own phase of prematurity as well. We just need to wait for Microsoft's newest addition to the family to grow out of its diapers.