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In the smartphone race, everything is measured by market share. There's a constant battle between Android and iOS to see which one has the largest market share at any given moment. Microsoft used to be a big part of the market share competition, with Windows Mobile. Now Microsoft's OS is nearly at the bottom, with about one percent market share. One percent market share may not seem like a lot. Actually, to be honest, it's not a lot. But Microsoft is working to change that. We're seeing new devices with compelling hardware and features as well as software updates that continue to elevate the OS.

The Samsung Focus S is one of those pieces of compelling hardware. It features a large 4.3-inch touchscreen with a beautiful Super AMOLED Plus display, the 8-megapixel camera captures HD video, and it runs on AT&T's 4G HSPA+ network. The Focus S really is one of the best of the best when it comes to Windows Phone handsets. As you'll find out while reading this review, there's very little to complain about which makes this an easy device to recommend.

 

Design & Features

Physically speaking, the Focus S is nearly identical to the Galaxy S II, Samsung's flagship Android smartphone. The phone is very slender and lightweight, measuring only .33-inches thick and weighing 3.9 ounces. The back battery cover has a textured, rough feel. The shell is built entirely out of plastic, but it still feels solid in the hand. The front of the devices features the 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus display. This display has a resolution of 480 x 800, which gives it a pixel density of 217 ppi. The display is gorgeous. The displayed colors are very rich and saturated well.

Below the display are three capacitive buttons for Back, Start (home), and Search. A long press on the Back button will open the multi-tasking interface and a long-press on the Start button starts the voice control app. As with all Windows Phone devices, there is a physical camera button on the right spine. Along this same spine is the Power/Screen Lock button. The 3.5mm headphone jack is on the top of the phone and the volume rocker button is on the left side of the phone. On the bottom is the microUSB port.

Windows Phone in its current state is not very friendly to external microSD cards so Samsung left out the slot entirely. You're given 16GB of internal memory though, and any apps that are pre-installed on the phone, even the AT&T apps, can be uninstalled. The phone also has 512 MB of RAM.

 

Usability & Performance

Microsoft does not allow manufacturers to make any design customizations to Windows Phone so your experience will be the same across all Windows Phone handsets. The Focus S ships with version 7.5 of the OS, also known by its codename, Mango. If you're new to Windows Phone, it's a very simple and straight-forward OS. There are live tiles (similar to widgets on Android); XBOX Live integration; the Zune Marketplace for music, videos, and more; direct integration of Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn as well as any services or accounts through Google, Yahoo, and more; Bing Maps and Search; Microsoft Office; and the Marketplace with roughly 60,000 apps available. Microsoft may not allow any UI customizations, but Samsung has included a custom "hub" app called Now, a daily briefing app. This app includes weather information, stocks, news, and more. The app also comes with a live tile that shows the weather info. Along with this app, there is a special Samsung Zone in the Marketplace where you can download Samsung-made apps like Tango for video calling, Photo Studio, MiniDiary, and a few others.

The Focus S is powered by a 1.4 GHz Qualcomm Scorpion processor. Even with a single-core processor, Windows Phone runs smoothly and seamlessly. All tasks and activities can be carried out with little to no lag. Transitions are smooth and pinch-to-zoom is very responsive. Using the app WP Bench, the Focus S scored a 91.79 on a benchmark test. Currently, the highest score recorded is 105.19. Despite the phone's overall excellent performance, I did have some problems with the keyboard. For some unexplained reason, the keyboard lags when typing instead of instantly registering each key press. This can be irritating while typing since I constantly feel the need to stop and make sure it registered each keypress.

While testing the phone in the Dallas area, data speeds using AT&T's HSPA+ network have been great, though slightly inconsistent. I had highs of 4 Mbps but lows of 1-2 Mbps. Of course, data speeds and call quality will vary depending on coverage in your area.

I've been very impressed with the Focus S' camera. It's an 8-megapixel autofocus shooter with an LED flash. Still photos came out clear with excellent detail. Colors were captured well and the photos look bright and crisp. The camera captures 720p HD video. Video quality was excellent but the audio quality was disappointing. It had a "tin can" sound that took away from the overall quality of the video. Videos captured in low-light settings looked very good. The phone also has a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera that can be used for video calling or self-portraits.

The Focus S ships with a 1650 mAh battery. By Samsung's estimates, you should be able to get 6.5 hours of talk time and 10.4 days of standby time. I ran a battery stress test and the total test time was 2 hours and 24 minutes. With normal use consisting of checking email, web browsing, downloading apps, sending text messages, and social networking, I was able to get through a full day without the battery dying.

 

Conclusion

AT&T has the best line-up of Windows Phone devices so if that's your carrier of choice, you have a lot of options. The Focus S is easily one of the best Windows Phone handsets on the market due to its beautiful, large display, excellent camera, and 4G capabilities. It's definitely a great option for AT&T customers or for those looking for a GSM Windows Phone device.

 

Wrap-Up

The Good: Brilliant Super AMOLED Plus display; spacious 4.3-inch touchscreen; 4G HSPA+; excellent still picture quality; great HD video quality; sleek profile and design; great performance with little or no lag.

The Bad: Keyboard would hang when typing; disappointing audio quality when capturing HD video; non-expandable memory.

The Verdict: There's very little to not like about the Focus S, unless of course you don't like Windows Phone. Otherwise, the Focus S is a solid option.


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61 Reactions to this post

"What's your favorite Windows Phone?"


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Toni Brown
Toni Brown Lumia 900
Devon Sewell
Devon Sewell HTC titan2
Brian Kunz
Brian Kunz I'm rocking the galaxy s2, but the Nokia has definitely caught my attention.
Hector Alvarado
Hector Alvarado Nokia! All the way!
Drew Page
Drew Page well, the Nokia Lumia 900 may be my fav when it ships, but the Samsung Focus S is the best right now
Khumoyun Khushvaktov
Khumoyun Khushvaktov HTC Titan, the best windows phone, i mean that!
Bonnie Foster
Bonnie Foster Htc
Jamil Cooper
Jamil Cooper I like the new 4.7 htc phone. I'm looking for a 4.3 screen phone phone for myself with 8mp running Windows then I might switch from android, til the rockin sensation with crack screen. Til next month new ice cream sandwich.
Peter Kis
Peter Kis I have the Lumia 800 - a very nice phone indeed. And to those who think WP7 can't be customized enough: neither can iOS.
Flako Ramirez
Flako Ramirez Im on Verizon and we only got one god damn phone wtf verizon >:(
Shawn Poling
Shawn Poling Lumia 800
Nikolas Manuelides
Nikolas Manuelides Samsung Galaxy S3, oh wait that hasnt come out yet....oh wait thats an Android Phone, then I dont have a favorite Windows phone u.u
Tyler Charles Christopher
Tyler Charles Christopher The titan 2.that's a big ass phone!! !
Chris Robato
Chris Robato All Windows Phone try too hard to impress. Not cool. My friend has an HTC Surround. Confesses to me he can't stand it for more than 15 minutes.
Paul Alexandru
Paul Alexandru 4S iPhone
Asim Qazi
Asim Qazi HTC Surround
Jonathan Ng
Jonathan Ng Lumia 800
Arvydas Grušeckas
Arvydas Grušeckas Nokia Lumia 800 for now :P
Ismael Sergio Molina
Ismael Sergio Molina Had many android phones switched to the Lumia 710 had problems with that one (battery issues for example) and now I'm using the HTC radar 4g. Good stuff so far.
Ryan Gontko
Ryan Gontko Dell Venue Pro
Jose Pablo Islas
Jose Pablo Islas The one with Android on it
Ahmed Abdul Salam
Ahmed Abdul Salam Nokia
Brian Kelly
Brian Kelly Lumia 910, whenever it gets official
Matt Polkiewicz
Matt Polkiewicz HURR IPHONES FOREVER! Jk, I'd say the Lumia 800 is best for me.
Asher Enciso
Asher Enciso titan 2
Rob Mebane Sr.
Rob Mebane Sr. I love my Samsung focus,great for watching videos taking pictures. The Mango upgrade made it even sweeter.. Allowing ringtones and more marketplace apps!! Only thing , I wish it was 4G...
Tim Miyashiro
Tim Miyashiro My HTC Surround. Great device, love the slide out speakers. Also, all the idiots need to stop posting on things that don't apply to them. "HURR ANDROIDS 4EVURRRRR!!1!" "HURR IPHONE 4EVURRRRRR!!"
Steven Yaxley
Steven Yaxley I've had every phone Os and I can say without a doubt wp7 is my favorite... If only Facebook would make a decent app for once, and android can say it's any better there, you're just fooling yourselves
Devon Bain
Devon Bain I don't mean this as a slam on the user base, WP7 is a fine OS if you're looking for a "it does what I need it to," smartphone. But there is little customization, and the MetroUI is very polarizing. You love it or hate it. I never liked it on a phone, but I like to tinker. Customize. It's a deliberate UX choice by Redmond and, for good or ill, it is certainly different from the two gorillas in the space.
Anuj Dutta
Anuj Dutta Samsung focus. Its amazing
Devon Bain
Devon Bain The Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Why is it my favourite windows phone 7? The Android Market. Custom launchers. Dual core, LTE.
Thomas Boehnlein
Thomas Boehnlein I want a Lumia 900. Spent yesterday learning about the physics behind their screen technology. Makes me want one even more.
Nick Kalman
Nick Kalman Lumia 900, Titan 2
JJ Johnson
JJ Johnson All of these comments are dumb af. if you don't have a windows phone don't say anything. I have a Dell venue pro and it's freaking amazing. I have also have an iPhone and an android phone, I prefer my wp7. As soon as better hardware comes out I'll upgrade. >>
Jeremy Gillett
Jeremy Gillett Lumia 800
Aron Thiehoff
Aron Thiehoff Hd2.
Suzan Thompson
Suzan Thompson ANDROID
Bob Camba
Bob Camba You have to be kidding, right?
Rahul Patel
Rahul Patel motorola mpx200. lol.
Jordan Williams
Jordan Williams You mean the ones that are all almost identically spec'd? SO....all of them.
Adrianna Bailey
Adrianna Bailey HTC radar! Which im on right now... (;
Drew Applesauce
Drew Applesauce Windows phone? The ones you throw out a window?
Nathan Wright
Nathan Wright I love my Focus. Totally kills the atrix I used to have. My favorite right now is the lumia 900 :)
Jorge Eslava
Jorge Eslava One that runs Android
Jared Elick
Jared Elick That's like asking what my favorite iPhone is. None of them.
Jose Angel Santiago
Jose Angel Santiago Windows based phones Zzzzzzzzzz!!!
Eduardo Ordaz
Eduardo Ordaz none. They dont look cool.
Marvin Oubre
Marvin Oubre I have an EVO 3D as my main phone and an unlocked original used Samsung Focus off eBay. I use the Focus for traveling outside the country only with a global sim card ofcourse.
Jamie Lynn Johnson Jr.
Jamie Lynn Johnson Jr. I don't like them very much, but I like the HTC Trophy
Kirstin LeeAnn
Kirstin LeeAnn None..ha!
Orlando Maravilla
Orlando Maravilla HTC fuze!
Dilan Parmar
Dilan Parmar lumia 710 is even better
David Ross
David Ross Nokia Lumia 800... (Though I am on Verizon and have only one choice--HTC Trophy. Grrr.....)
Mark Mann
Mark Mann Samsung focus s
Tashi Stunner Best
Tashi Stunner Best dell venue pro
Brandon Grubb
Brandon Grubb from what i have seen thay are not to impresive
David Jason Whetzel
David Jason Whetzel That's like asking me what my favorite STD is. Lol. Sorry, I couldn't resist.
Nathan Kendall
Nathan Kendall My HTC Surround...
Hansel Starley
Hansel Starley I played with a Focus S the other day, is a pretty nice device. The Titan looks great also but the screen was too big for me.
Mark Garcia
Mark Garcia Dell venue pro
Nnandi Cason
Nnandi Cason androids 4ever




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