The Samsung i8910 HD was undoubtedly one of the phones of the Mobile World Congress event and is now one of the most eagerly anticipated new phones of 2009. Originally going under the name of Omnia HD, the i8910 follows in the recent Samsung trend of last minute name changes (the Innov8 turning into the i8510 is a similar example). Omnia HD, i8910 HD, whatever you want to call it, we’ve been drooling over the specs and official press photos for the past month. And now Mobiles.co.uk can now go one better. Yep, we’ve got one and are going to put it through its paces to give you the low down on what’s potentially set to be the phone of the year. Read on for our thoughts on the Samsung i8910 HD…
The first thing that strikes you with the i8910 HD is its size; the phone is by no means a small one. The front is of course dominated by the huge 3.7 inch display which is nicely framed by a metallic silver strip. In the top left corner we find the video calling camera, directly above the screen sits the earpiece and beneath we find the three physical buttons. The reverse of the phone is dominated by the camera lens, on the left side the memory card slot and volume keys and on the right the camera button, micro USB slot and screen lock key. The design of the i8910 Omnia HD works well, combining the classy metallic silver frame and camera with a high quality, highly polished black plastic material to great effect. At 12.9mm the phone is remarkably thin considering what lurks inside and at 144g has a reassuring weight to it without being too heavy.
Despite the uncompromising size of the i8910 HD (also known as the Omnia HD), powering on the phone reveals the true power of the awesome display and soon all is forgiven. The screen on the i8910 HD is of the AMOLED variety (as seen on the Tocco Ultra) which provides a truly stunning visual experience. The increase in size really shows off what an OLED display is capable of. Colours are rich and sharp, everything is crisp and vivid and at times you feel like you could reach out and grab what’s on screen. If the i8910 HD is anything to go by, OLED technology is definitely the way forward for mobile phone displays.
The touchscreen on the i8910 HD is capacitive meaning it only reacts to your finger. While this eliminates the use of a stylus or other accessory, it means that icons stick to your fingers like glue, swiping across the screen always registers and everything is effortless with the minimum of pressure required to perform an action. The touchscreen on the i8910 HD is a revelation; everything is simple, fast and intuitive and not once did I find myself having to retouch the same icon because of a failed first attempt. The phone runs on Symbian series 60 5th edition as previously seen on the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic. The Symbian interface will come as second nature to anyone familiar with the interface. Menus and applications are easily customisable and the number of third party applications is growing nicely in time for the phones summer launch. The home screen adopts the TouchWiz interface with the task bar on the right the home for shortcuts such as the music player and clock which can then be dragged and dropped on to the home screen. Lastly the i8910 HD also plays host to an LG arena style cube which lets you flick between the Symbian menu, TouchWiz home screen and your photo contacts.
The Samsung i8910 HD gets its place in the record books and indeed its name from its video capture capabilities. The i8910 HD records video in high definition at 720p, a world first for a mobile phone. The boost in quality is only really apparent when watching video playback on an HD ready TV but it is worth it; the increase in quality is staggering. In recent mobile launches we have seen manufacturers adopting VGA quality as standard for video capture but now that Samsung have raised the bar once again, it’s time for the other big players to play catch up.
Never before has the still digital camera on a phone played second fiddle to the video capabilities but that’s definitely the case here. But while the HD video capture will get all the headlines, the i8910 HD does feature one of the most impressive cameras yet seen on a phone (check out the sample to the right). The 8.0 Megapixel camera is complimented nicely with autofocus, face detection and smile detection. The large touchscreen interface is also very user friendly; the centre provides the main viewfinder which is framed on either side by a row of settings including shooting mode (multi shot/ smile shot etc.), scene, picture size and focus (auto focus/ macro mode etc.). Tapping the required icon opens up the menu with icons clearly labelled and big enough so that they are easy to access with your finger. The camera on the Omnia HD is perfect for casual users and enthusiasts alike. Point and shoot images show incredible levels of detail and clarity and for those willing to delve a little deeper and set the camera up to match the scene and conditions, the results are even more rewarding. The gallery is also equally impressive; the main over view gives you thumbnails of all your files whilst double tapping will show the image in full screen. From here, simply swiping your finger across the screen allows you to flick through your gallery. The built in accelerometer is also fast with little delay between turning the phone to landscape and matching the screen.
The i8910 features HSDPA connectivity and Wi-Fi for high speed web access. Clicking on the web browser icon brings up a list of options including Bookmarks, history options and the option to enter a new URL. Choosing the latter opens up a small pop up window which asks whether you want to use network data access or a Wi-Fi connection. Once you have selected and been taken to the web page, you are presented with an easy to use and incredibly clear interface. Initially you get a tool bar of options which sits on the right but this can be discarded in favour of a full screen view. This is where the large display again comes into its own; holding the Omnia HD on its side activates the accelerometer and gives you the web page in glorious wide screen. Navigating around is a simple case of dragging your finger across to scroll. To zoom in and out simply hold your finger on screen until a zoom cursor appears then roll your finger forwards or backwards to zoom in and out.
In terms of multimedia, the i8910 HD picks up where its predecessor left off. Support for pretty much every audio format under the sun ensures proves the Omnia HD’s worth as a portable music player. The music player sorts by artist, album, track or genre and also lets users create playlists. The speaker is loud and clear enough to play your music through though for the best experience plug in the bundled headphones. When it comes to video, the i8910 HD is head and shoulders above the rest. The i8910 supports DivX, Xvid and WMV which covers all the major movie file formats meaning you can load the phone with movies without overloading the memory. Not that this is an issue with 8GB internal memory and a memory card slot. Our sample came with Indiana Jones 4 and Transformers trailers and on the 3.7 inch screen they looked simply amazing. There was no delay, everything was completely fluid and you could easily envisage watching a whole movie on the move. Put simply, watching videos on the Samsung i8910 HD is a joy.
When the i8910 HD first arrived on my desk the uncompromising size made it a slightly daunting proposition but as soon as the phone was powered on all is forgiven. The OLED screen looks amazing and is capable of displaying unparalleled detail, colour and clarity. What is even more pleasing is the fact that behind the good looks the i8910 Omnia HD is excellent to use. The touchscreen is responsive and user friendly, the camera is among the best camera phones out there and the HD video capture turns mobile video recording on its head. Throw in the huge memory, wealth of connectivity options and a Symbian operating system that is begging to be played with and Samsung have a potential world beater on their hands.
If anything Samsung were right to drop the Omnia HD name, this isn’t merely an evolution of the original Omnia; it’s a revolution that has raised the bar in all departments. The only bad news is that we still have to wait till June till it launches. To sign up for information on the i8910 HD click here.