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Samsung Focus Review

 

Samsung Focus Review

 
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The Samsung Focus is one of the first Windows Phone 7 devices to go on sale. It's part of the trio of launch devices hitting AT&T in time for the holiday season of 2010. The Focus' biggest selling point, besides coming equipped with the all-new Windows Phone 7 operating system, is that it has the same gorgeous four-inch Super AMOLED display made famous by the Samsung Galaxy S series of devices. In this review we'll cover the hardware, software, and overall experience that the Focus brings so that you can determine if this will be your next device.

BOX CONTENTS

Our Focus didn't come in the retail box, so we only had the device and the charger. Don't expect any remarkable accessories to come included with the device, though. The box will most likely include the device, charger, and a quick start guide.

HARDWARE

In terms of specs, the Focus is like a Galaxy S but with a different CPU and less RAM. Like all launch Windows Phone 7 devices, the Focus is equipped with the Qualcomm Snapdragon QSD8250 1GHz CPU -- but unlike most other launch models sporting 512MB RAM, this one is only supported by 256MB of RAM. In terms of memory, you get 8GB of storage internally, and you can combine the onboard storage with microSD expansion to get up to 40GB of space if you use a 32GB microSD card (but the microSD card exhibits some weird behavior. More on that later).

The screen uses Samsung's proprietary Super AMOLED technology to bring fantastic contrast and great outdoor visibility. It's four inches diagonal and 480 x 800 resolution, which is the only resolution that Windows Phone 7 Chassis 1 devices support. Connectivity-wise, you've got Bluetooth 2.1, WiFi b/g/n, aGPS, and an FM radio. In terms of sensors, it has a proximity sensor, light sensor, and g-sensor. The camera, which has an LED flash, takes photos at five megapixels, and video at 720p resolution. Later in the review we'll show you some photo and video samples. For syncing and charging, the Focus uses microUSB, and for audio, you have a 3.5mm headphone jack. Powering everything is a 1500mAh battery.

Windows Phone 7 is different...very different. You'll spend a lot of your time here on the Start screen, which acts as a launching point for anything you do on your phone. The Start screen itself is also smart marketing from Microsoft. Several times I've had people look over my shoulder and ask "What kind of phone is that?"

To your Start screen you can pin many different things, namely contacts, map locations, websites, programs, albums, songs, and certain photo albums. A big promise of the Start screen comes with live tiles: developers can create tiles that dynamically update. Imagine a live tile for sports scores, or one to feed you the current weather conditions.

The Focus is a rather conservative-looking slab device with a large flush piece of glass on the front panel. The screen, in certain lights, has a blue hue when turned off, which we also found with the Galaxy S devices. Below the Samsung logo we have the required Windows Phone 7 buttons: Back, Start, and Search.

One of the big selling points of the Focus is its weight--at just 110grams, it's one of the lightest devices out there. You'd think that the light weight plus abundant use of plastic would give it a cheap in-hand feel, but that isn't the case. The Focus has a high level of build quality.

The screen is remarkable each and every time you look at it. Windows Phone 7 is a very visually "smooth" operating system...everything from the lock screen to the hubs are meant to be aesthetically pleasing. The fantastic contrast of the Super AMOLED screen really brings the software to life.

At around 10-millimeters thin, the Focus is the thinnest Windows Phone 7 to be released for the launch. Also notice the chrome-looking plastic that adorns the sides. On the right side we have a dedicated camera button (which, if held for about three seconds, will launch the camera even if the phone is in standby), plus the power/standby button. Windows Phone 7 starts up and shuts down in a fraction of what it takes any other smartphone platform. On the left side of the device, we have the volume up and down rocker.

If we take off the back battery cover, we see the SIM card slot, the microSD card bay (with a warning to consult the user manual before adding a card, because doing so will hard reset your device), plus the 1500mAh battery (which happens to be the same as the Galaxy S devices).
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