Samsung Focus S First Impressions

Aaron Baker
Writer from  Dallas, TX
| December 2, 2011

The Samsung Focus S is one of the second-generation Windows Phone devices, and it's arriving just in time for the holiday season.  Focus S is a ground-up revision of the original Focus, both in design and in specifications.  Now resembling the manufacturer's Galaxy S II Android line, Focus S packs a 1.4 GHz single-core Snapdragon processor, 4.3-inch Super AMOLED display, 8-megapixel camera with 720p HD video recording, and Windows Phone 7.5.  It's competitively priced at $149.99 - $50 cheaper than high-end alternatives like the HTC Vivid, HTC Titan, and Apple iPhone 4S.

It's not going to blow a smartphone addict out of the water, but it's great for the average user.  Some thoughts:

  • The 1.4 GHz single-core Snapdragon CPU works really well.  As usual, there's no lag, with the exception of one spot - the keyboard.  I find that, when typing, the keyboard is unable to keep up with my individual keystrokes, instead grouping them together after 3-4 keys.  It's hard to explain without showing it on video (which I plan to do in the full review) and didn't completely hinder my typing abilities, but if you rely on the noise of the keystrokes to gauge your speed like I do, it's pretty frustrating.

  • It's hard to believe the Focus S has a 4.3-inch display.  I'm sure it's a partially due to working with oversized smartphones, but this display (and phone in general) seems tiny.  At any rate, the Super AMOLED Plus display looks nice.  Colors are rich, and while there's not a great deal of image overload in Windows Phone, it's a noticeable improvement over first-generation devices.
  • Focus S comes preloaded with Mango (Windows Phone 7.5), and you'll get the usual AT&T apps, all of which can be uninstalled: AT&T FamilyMap, myWireless, Navigator, Radio, U-verse Mobile, and YPmobile.
  • The battery cover is WAY too flimsy.  Just in the few times I've pried it off of the device, I've been concerned that I'm going to snap it in half. 

  • Focus S has an 8-megapixel camera with 720p HD video recording, and images look pretty decent.  I love the camera app on Windows Phone.  The ability to quickly switch between taking pictures and scrolling through the gallery is a nice touch.
  • The phone supports AT&T's HSPA+ (4G) technology, with speeds peaking at 14.4 Mbps (though you'll never attain such speeds in day-to-day use.  Still, I'm seeing speeds between 2.1 Mbps and 3.9 Mbps pretty regularly, which is a nice change from the sub-1 Mbps speeds often seen on EVDO.  Still pales in comparison to 4G LTE, though.

  • With a 1,650 mAh battery, you shouldn't have any problem making it through the day with moderate use.  I used the phone to make calls, send a few text messages, browse the web, download a few apps, and jot some notes down in Microsoft Office, and it made it through about 11 hours of usage before the low battery warning popped up on the display.  By Windows Phone standards, 1,650 mAh is a decently sized battery that should get you through the day without a problem.

More coverage to come!

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