Samsung Omnia II (VZW): Noah's hands-on impressions

Noah Kravitz
 from  Oakland, CA
| December 14, 2009

omnia 2 cube

Samsung's Omnia 2 is Verizon's second Windows Mobile 6.5 smartphone, following HTC's Imagio. Omnia 2 is also the successor to the original Omnia, which at the time was notable for its high-powered processor and 5 megapixel camera with high-res video capture. Omnia 2 more or less maintains the original's status quo when it comes to specs, is actually a bit bulkier than the original, and adds Swype, a new system for touchscreen text input that I'm really not so sure about.


omnia 2 hand


Omnia 2's AMOLED display - a Samsung trademark of late - is large (3.7"), high-res (800 x 480), stunning, and for a resistive touchscreen it works well with finger or stylus. But the device suffers from an overly cluttered user interface. Like the Android-powered Behold 2, Omnia 2 is stuffed full of TouchWiz and The Cube, two Samsung user interface "enhancements" that, for my money, do more harm than good. The concept behind TouchWiz - a drawer full of widgets that users can access/hide from the Home Screen - makes sense, but its execution is clunky and takes up too much space. That said, Samsung is trying to cultivate a developer following for widget creation, which would add a lot of value to the TouchWiz system.


omnia 2 web


The Cube, on the other hand, is pretty indefensible. In theory it's a nifty 3D interface that you can spin to access various multimedia apps. In practice it's clunky, minorly frustrating, and takes extra time to do a job that homescreen shortcut icons can do just fine, thanks.


omnia 2 widgets


Swype is interesting. It's a text-entry system that looks like a QWERTY keyboard but relies on continuous finger swipes, and not taps, for word creation. To enter "phone," for instance, you place your fingertip on the "p" button and then trace through the "h," "o," "n," and "e" keys in succession without lifting your finger from the display. Various gestures allow for capitalization, entry of the same letter twice in a row, and other necessary variations. While the system has worked surprisingly well for me in my few days with it, it honestly feels more like a game than a viable improvement on the standard method of tapping on virtual buttons to enter letters and words.Learning Swype's language of gestures could be worth it over the long-haul, but in the short-term there are enough exceptions to the simple swype-to-type rule - particularly if you use "made up words" like shorthand or nicknames - that simple typing has proven more efficient for me thus far.

At any rate, Omnia 2 is a solid enough WinMo 6.5 device, but to me Imagio is a sleeker, slightly easier to use model lurking right next to it in Verizon's smartphone lineup. Omnia 2 does offer DIVX video playback on that big, bright AMOLED screen.

Products mentioned