Samsung-FocusSo here I am, practically in the same position I was last time my contract was up for renewal with AT&T. Everywhere I go on the internet, I’m flooded with images of spectacular Windows Phones (WP) other carriers are providing to their customers. My eyes are constantly greeted with their slim form, complimented by sleek edges, sexy metal and sturdy rubber; all well-designed and desirable slabs of technology.

Sadly, I will not be experiencing these phones in any way, other than admiring them on the web … all due to my wife’s insistence on getting an iPhone. So I’m stuck with AT&T, the only carrier that seems to drop the ball completely when it comes to providing its customers with desirable phones. The iPhone aside (it’s desirability is up for debate,) AT&T fails to offer even less–than-good examples from the three prominent platforms.

The only amazing thing about the phones AT&T offer, is how un-amazing these phones consistently are … like clockwork. Just look at their Android selection for Google’s sake! If per chance they release a phone that is considered top tier – without a doubt – they will release it so late that it ceases to be desirable when compared with the competition.

Don’t even get me started with the seemingly unnecessary hardware changes that occur somewhere between manufacturing and AT&T stamping their name on it. Why does AT&T have an obsession with fingerprint-magnet, shiny plastic that shows every scratch? I just don’t get it. Ok, my rant has now come to an end. Hopefully this is well-illustrated and provides a sufficient transition to my next point.

Despite claiming to be the mother of all WP providers, AT&T once again has failed its customers. We get to choose between quite possibly the three worst devices running the WP software. I will refer to them from this point on as LG Cheap, HTC Gimmick and Samsung Fugly. If AT&T were kind enough to give me options, neither Cheap, Gimmick nor Fugly would be considerations of mine.

The LG Cheap looks, and by all reports, feels like my nickname implies. The HTC Gimmick has got to be the worst HTC Windows Phone option that AT&T had to choose from. And the Samsung Fugly looks like a generation one iPhone reject design, pieced together from the plastic leftovers of all AT&T’s other phones. Like a rigged horserace, I can dismiss the LG and HTC right out of the gate. To me, the LG is a teen texting phone; enough said. The HTC has a slide-out speaker … no, not a keyboard, a speaker! It’s fatter, bulkier and heavier … for a speaker? AAAAAAGH. Seriously?

So, anyone who wants a physical keyboard is forced to submit to the LG’s cheapness, and those who want an HTC device are forced to use a phone with possibly the most useless “feature” a phone has ever endured.

This leaves us with the Samsung Fugly (Focus, to be exact). Hideous design aside, the phone is packing some serious heat. The 4-inch super AMOLED screen is supposedly spectacular and the five megapixel camera is apparently top notch. It’s obvious AT&T had some say in the materials used to make the phone, so be ready to purchase a sturdy case. The best part about the Samsung device, however, is the fact that it looks like you can expand its memory to whatever size your wallet can stomach.

To get to know the Fugly better, Slashgear has the best preview of the phone I have found to date. Just click here and pour over the Focus in all its subpar glory. A warning to all AT&T customers:  Ignore the Samsung Omnia 7 in the preview, lying right there beside the Focus. That phone is most definitely NOT FOR YOU!

I’m curious to know what everyone else thinks about AT&T’s choices. Hit up the comments and tell me how wrong (or right) I am.

19 COMMENTS

  1. I still haven’t been able to decide if I think the HTC Surround is cool, or gimmicky. The LG is a piece of junk, it looks terrible and will fall apart in a month. So the Samson is really the only phone that looks like it will be replacing my Fuze. I’m just a little ticked they didn’t put their hummingbird in it. and that I’ll have to be buying non-HTC……..

  2. completely agree that I was underwhelmed by the LG and the HTC device, Even though the focus is not the most compelling in the design area, I will purchase it on Nov. 8th. Screen looks amazing and reviews have said the phone feels insanely fast. Plus the upgradeable focus is a bonus. Sucks we can’t get the omnia 7, but feel that I can overlook the bad cosmetics of the phone with all it’s great new features and WP7.

  3. Despite the speaker being a “gimmick” or as I would call it a “limited appeal feature” like giving out ketchip popscicles at a white gloves sale. Most people don’t want it but there will be one happy-ketchup covered idiot smiling like a 3 year old in a shiny objects/jingly keys museum. I for one will find some use for the speaker as an alarm clock with the most volume and easiest to see (for a bedside clock) with its kickstand. You complain about only having one iphone and now you complain about choice. Not awesome choices but nothing has changed. HTC is still going to be the best hardware manufacturer even if you can’t handle the extra weight. I didn’t know your pack mule was so full of crap you can’t carry an extra eighth of an ounce. If you go Samsung, I hope for your sake, there are no problems with the hardware out of the gate. My experience is they promise an update, put it out a year after the phone is released, it fixes your original problem but causes a new one. But by then they’ve already spent your original money in marketing to convince you to be buy the next contrived pile of cellular frequency hucking excrement they can carve out of shiny plastic. Thank you. That is all.

  4. Agreed re: the HTC phone: it’s a gimmick.
    The LG phone looks better than early reviews suggest.
    The Samsung Focus looks like a great phone, though, and I don’t necessarily agree that T-Mobile got the better phones.
    Not everybody wants a huge 4.3″ phone. But if you’re on T-Mobile and want WP7, you can choose between huge and huger (the Lightning looks comically huge when held in demonstration vids…it looks like Dr. McCoy’s tricorder when the keyboard is open).
    Some will prefer the straight lines of the Focus’ European cousin, the Samsung Omnia 7. I differ, since my hand is not made of straight lines, but curves. The Focus is meant to be held comfortably by human hands. I’ve had straight-edged phones, and I hated them for taking over an extended period of time.

  5. I said this before and I’ll say this again, MS dropped the ball on this very important release of Windows Phone 7. I understand their need to keep their OEMs and partners happy, but they should have released a premium limited time (6months) handset to draw customers in and then after the 6motnths were up introduce OEMs handset to the market.

    Google did this with Android on the Nexus One. OEMs are WP7 worse enemies.

    Also they should have insisted on a connector, similar to the one on the Zune HD, on all WP7.

    Unfortunately, like you, I’m stuck with the focus. I was going to import an
    omnia7 but I don’t know how it will preform on AT&T network.

    I’m very disappointed with MS handling of the HW — OS looks like a champ. Customers should have had a set of sexy handsets to match the new OS, but…

  6. i may hold out on wp7 on my upcoming contract renewal (february). yes, wp7 is nice and all, but att has shitty phones coming out. idk if it’ll be any different in feb, but i may just wait it out on my current contract until verizon makes the switch to lte voice and data (sim cards are the key to happiness if you have multiple phones you switch between lol). i just can’t stand it. the only two nice phones att offers now are the captivate (locked down as hell cuz att thinks we’re all stupid) and the iphone. the captivate is an amazing phone, but then again will it still be a top notch phone in february, 8 months after it was released? idk…too many tough decisions and i’m going to stop thinking about this before i get depressed and decide to drop $600 that i don’t have on a phone from europe or australia or something

  7. Ditto to Matt’s post. i will use the speaker a lot especially with the kickstand. Unless the Fugly blows me away during hands-on its HTC for me.

  8. I agree completely. Not only did we get bent over when T-Mobile snatched up the HD2, but now we completely ass-fucked as T-Mo takes the HD7, and quite probably the HD7 Pro next quarter along with Sprint of all carriers.
    What the Eff is Ralph de la Vega thinking?!? Is he purposely trying to run AT&TW into the ground as the iPhone exclusivity slips away? You’d think as the ‘Premier’ Launch Partner that AT&T would be knocking our socks off with a choice between a half-dozen or so of the most advanced WP7 devices available. Instead we get Larry, Moe and Curly. I am teetering on the edge of splitting my subscription and jumping to T-Mo just for the devices. I’ve been and AT&TW customer for 10 years, and I am so frigging pissed off at these morons and their limp-dick handset choices.

  9. For what it’s worth, the Samsung Focus is apparently the most popular of the phones among the Microsoft people working on the project. And it’s Paul Thurrott’s pick after having spent significant time working with all the different devices for daily use. Perhaps your opinion will change after spending some actual time with the device. Oh, and give props to AT&T and Samsung for offering the only U.S. phone with Super AMOLED and the ability to expand memory at launch.

  10. I think the AT&T lineup sucks. I’ve been using the HTC line of WM full physical keyboards going back to the 8125. A physical keyboard is a “must have” for me, and I’m really bummed that after all this waiting, all AT&T is offering is the LG Quantum. Which looks to be the lowest of all the WP7 devices announced. And I don’t get this HTC slide out speaker thing at all. Ugh. Very disappointing AT&T. Someone should lose their job over this.

  11. In response to Doc’s great points (I would love to read your source), I do agree about the internals of the Focus, lack of hummingbird aside. Everything on paper reads really well. My major beef is the lackluster design and build materials. Why jam a feature phone full of features and encase it in something that looks and feels like it won’t last. If I had at my disposal all the phones as well I might choose the samsung on any one point because I know if it breaks I just get a new one or if I get sick of how ugly it is I can use another for a short period of time. To make my point lets put it next to the Dell. The dell has quality materials. Every review I’ve read they say its built more solid than any phone they have ever tested. It’s got gorilla glass for crying out loud. That’s what I want in my feature phone. I’ve done the great features but poor build quality and design so many times I’ve lost count. I just don’t see how anyone can be satisfied with the choices AT&T is giving us. They miss the mark on every single target audience. Slide out keyboard people are screwed. HTC people are screwed. Feature phone people are screwed. That’s just reality. I’m not saying some people won’t be satisfied, I’m saying the majority of them won’t. I will most likely be getting the Samsung as well but I won’t be overly thrilled. I want to be thrilled to drop that much money on a phone. Like the Droid X or the iPhone 4 or the G2 people. That’s the feeling I want.

  12. When I first saw the HD7, as an AT&T customer I was super jealous. However, seeing the Samsung Focus in videos post-launch, I have to say I like it a lot. The HD7 doesn’t have an AMOLED screen and it shows when compared to the Focus. The Focus is also the thinnest of all the first round phones and with a 4″ screen, well, yeah that pretty much makes it a lock for me.

    I agree the other 2 phones on AT&T are worthless crap. I’d never use a slide out speaker and neither would the other 90% of people who use headphones because no one else want to listen to your crappy Justin Beber song riding on the bus/in the office/on the plane. LG made a craptastic phone and, in that sense, didn’t disappoint at all.

  13. Yep, I would have to agree with this piece (and most of the comments here). Very underwhelmed by AT&T’s offerings. My Fuze has served me well, but was really hoping for the “premium experience” with WP7…I think T-Mo has that with their devices. Always possible that once these things are released and we have a play with ’em for real my opinion may change – BUT – the rub here is that I’ve been thinking of switching to T-Mo, and now there appears to be more of a driver based on their WP7 offerings. The options right now are the Focus (will check it out and give it’s due), HD7 or the Venue Pro – or – wait a bit and see what else comes out in 2011. Either way, I don’t think this bodes particularity well for AT&T as the “premier partner”.

  14. so much hate for a slideout speaker all in one place… i guess im in the minority seeing as ive been wishing my phone had a decent speaker for a long long time now.

  15. We know all the initial lineup of phones, but is there anything coming out first of next year that is worth waiting for?

    Unless an in-store hand-on demo changes my mind, I guess I’m getting the Quantum.. Need that keyboard.. ANYTHING will be a huge upgrade from my frail Fuze..

    In case my local ATT store doesn’t have it, does it matter where you buy it? Bestbuy, walmart, etc..?

  16. it doesnt matter where you buy it as long as the place you buy it from is actually doing the upgrade.. unless you want to pay full retail, in which case your best deal wont be in an actual store.

  17. My choice is still the Focus, however I did consider the HTC offering as well. I am not sure that everyone is hating on the Surround as much as trying to figure out why Tmobile got the HD7 versus AT&T. If the HD7 were offered I think a lot of people would be singing the praises of HTC versus downplaying their desire for a external speaker. It is a neat concept, but is relegated to a select group of enthusiasts. It is a strange marketing choice coming from HTC unless they are expecting to introduce new devices next year with a bigger screen.

    I do find it interesting that their stock took such a hit on the news that their WP7 devices would be delayed. I thought their fleet of Android devices would have kept them stable.

  18. Chris has a good point, it’s not so much that I hate the HTC concept or idea, it’s that it’s my only HTC option and it’s such an obvious gimmick that I would have to CHOOSE it over other HTC devices to be satisfied with it.

    I really didn’t want to get into bashing the phone but seriously, the speakers could have been designed into the phone and saved the useless sliding function. I can’t see the slide out function as useful in any way.

    I don’t even think it fits the application of the phone. It would make more sense if the phone was also sporting a 4.3 inch AMOLED screen and pushed as media experience. As it is, it strikes me as a way to push a less than top notch phone onto people using the Windows Phone UI and a distraction in the form of the speakers.

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