Today I went back again to AT&T store to find out whether I could upgrade my Focus to either Focus S or HTC Titan. While I was there I had an opportunity to study both Focus S and Titan extensively. Thanks to our local AT&T Store representatives to let me play with those. Of course there is a Titan in the display, which is a real device, not a dummy and it will go on sale in a few days.
Here is my take on Samsung Focus S. I will cover HTC Titan in the next article. Samsung maintained the same quality that it has built into original Focus, which it released last year.
I tried the basic functionality of phone – communications – phone, call quality, and texting. These are simply superb. The quality of the phone is same as the quality I see in the original Focus. The build quality didn’t go south.
The Windows Phone 7 app ecosystem is growing day by day even though it had stalled for few days before the release of Mango, but it again picked up the pace. Zune Services, Xbox integration and Microsoft Office integration are still great. Interestingly I have seen Internet Sharing (default turned off) and SIM Applications (empty list) in the settings and other additional settings “extra settings” and “high fidelity position”, which I cover later in this article.
Windows Phone 7 is really good in combining the email inboxes and linking contacts. You feel fluidity in touch response. System is optimized for performance that includes touch response. I have felt more comfortable responding to emails on this bigger screen.
Camera quality is not bad and is improved a lot. But I found the camera quality on HTC Titan better than Focus S. Interestingly I have seen this as reverse in the case of original Focus and HD7.
I noticed couple of interesting things in the Settings along with “internet sharing.” First one is “extra settings”. In the extra settings, you can set the following to On or Off.
- Use auto display intensity On/Off
- If the background color is set to white, automatically adjust this color to reduce power consumption On/Off
- Apply this option to the touch keys on the front side such as back, start and search key. Use echo cancellation On/Off
- A feature to remove echo in order to improve voice quality on a phone call. On/Off
The other interesting setting is “high fidelity position”.
- Use sensor aiding On/Off
- Help with pedestrian positioning, especially in areas where GPS is less accurate using other sensors such as accelerometer and compass. On/Off
- Use GLONASS On/Off
- When location using GPS is activated, use GLObal Navigation Satellite System at the same time to enhance location availability.
Phone reception, and call quality – 5 out of 5. I tried both earphone and speaker phone. The other person could hear clearly even if I speak softly and in a low voice. I could hear the same from a soft and low voice person. I give 5 out 5 for this.
Strength of the OS – 4.5 out of 5. Coming from Windows Mobile family and as an IT professional I still think the modern OSes lack Windows Mobile power. This includes Windows Phone 7 too. Windows Mobile is all about freedom and power and modern OSes like iOS, WP7 are controlled freedom and reduced power. That is my opinion. We could debate for days on this topic.
Display size – 4.5 out of 5. I felt reading and replying to emails is super easy with bigger screen with 800×480 Super AMOLED Plus display and it’s definitely the quality we expect from Samsung. 4.3” display is good and I currently own HD7, which is also of the same size but not Super AMOLED Plus though. I wish Samsung would release a 5” Windows Phone with Super AMOLED Plus screen.
Processor – 5 out of 5. The processor is clocked at 1.4GHz, Qualcomm Snapdragon, little better than Microsoft suggested ratings. Yes, I agree Windows Phone 7 Operating System is fine tuned and doesn’t require dual core. This processor exceeds Microsoft set limit and that’s why I give 5 out of 5.
Battery life – 3.5 out of 5. Samsung should have gone for better battery at least 1620 mAH, if not 1850 mAH instead of 1500 mAH. The claimed batter life is at 6.5 hours of talk time with 3G data and 250 hours of standby, but I seriously doubt that and I have read some reviews that battery gets discharged pretty fast once you start playing games or playing music. Of course iPhone 4S also has similar issues, but I still feel Samsung should have gone for better battery given the fact that good number of Windows Phone 7 users play Xbox Games and enjoy Zune Services.
Ease of use – 5 out of 5. Windows Phone 7 with its Live Tiles is one of the best User Experience delivered from the powerhouse of Microsoft. Every Windows Phone 7 use this power and the credibility goes to Microsoft.
Form factor and weight – 4 out of 5. Even though it is bigger phone, I have felt it is lighter than HTC HD7, which is of course of the same size. And the phone didn’t feel like plastic. Samsung didn’t compromise on the quality of the packing, once I get hands on Nokia Lumia I will revise this, until then I mark it as good.
Media Support – 5 out of 5. Phone is powered by Zune. Quality of Zune Service is awesome and better than iTunes in variety of areas. Microsoft is tying up with providers for the content regularly and I see it gets improved over the time definitely.
Longevity – 4 out of 5. I haven’t seen any newer phones until WP7 got a major refresh, Mango, after its original release last year. I foresee the same for the next year unless Nokia releases new WP7 phones regularly over the next 12 months. That puts pressure on other OEMs like HTC and Samsung and they will release newer models very quarter like they are doing for Android. Until then I think Focus S remains the premium model of WP7 from Samsung. I see the path similar to iPhones release, which is in fact good for a lot of consumers who change phones as soon as newer model gets released.
Camera – 4 out of 5. With 8 megapixel rear camera LED flash and capable of HD video, Focus S is one replacement for your Point and Shoot cameras. The Front Facing Camera is at 1.3 MP and it is great for video chatting. Now Microsoft has to release Skype for WP7 until then Tango comes to rescue.The camera is decent and I take out 1 out of it because of lack of optical zoom and dual LED Flash. The phone makers can easily put optical zoom to these lenses.
LTE and 4G – 4 out of 5. Here in my area we are still at HSPA+ and we would be getting LTE pretty soon. None of the current WP7 phones are LTE supported and there is word in the wild that Nokia would be releasing LTE WP7 phones on AT&T early next year. If that comes out to be true, then I see newer WP7 phones with LTE support from Samsung and HTC . I read some reviews that HSPA+ speeds on Focus S and Titan are good and comparable to Androids on AT&T network.
Memory and Storage – 3.5 out of 5. The phone comes with 512 MB of RAM and16 GB (only 13.70 GB will be available for user) of internal storage. I take out 1.5 from possible 5 points for this because original Focus has internal microSD and using that one could easily bump the storage to 40 GB maximum and I did that by adding 32GB microSD, of course you can’t hot swap your microSD card, and once added the card becomes internal storage permanently. Which is good in many aspects. And taking out this capability from this second generation Focus devices (both Focus S and Focus Flash) is bad in my opinion.
Connectivity – 4.5 out of 5. With Bluetooth® 2.1, Wi-Fi®: IEEE 802.11 b/g/n, 3.5 mm stereo audio jack, micro-USB (5-pin micro-USB 2.0), it should be really good. Though I haven’t tested any of these specs. I also haven’t tested the DLNA capabilities of the phone. I take out 0.5 from this because it doesn’t support latest Bluetooth® 3.0.
Build Quality – 5 out of 5. Samsung maintained the build quality in Samsung Focus S. It shows the commitment of Samsung towards Windows Phone 7 platform.
EcoSystem – 4.5 out of 5. Windows Phone 7 doesn’t allow you to side-load the apps. You have to jailbreak the phone using Chevron WP7 and thus you could load HomeBrew apps. And the current collection of Apps is 40,000+ and most of them have better quality than Android counterparts. The guidance and the strict reinforcement of guidelines when approving apps brings out good quality in the apps and Microsoft marketplace is similar to Apple AppStore Walled garden. When it comes to games, there is good number of quality Xbox games and that number is growing. I take out 0.5 from the possible 5 points because of limited number of apps when compared to iOS or Android. Of course both are matured platforms and I hope with the developer ecosystem that Microsoft has, and growing interest from developers to develop for WP7, I see this gets matured over the time.
Overall I give 4.5 out of 5 for this phone.