Samsung Focus Review

I have been borrowing a new Samsung Focus Windows 7 phone for a couple of weeks and thought I would give some thoughts on the device. Overall I would say that the phone is quite impressive. It has the largest screen on a phone that I’ve used. Combined with its extremely thin body, the Focus is not only visually appealing but it is also comfortable to carry and hold.

From Just Stuff
From Just Stuff

As for the OS, Windows has made great strides from their previous mobile offerings. W7 seems very stable, and it has a nice UI which makes it fast and easy to operate. I liked having the large icons on the home screen, as it is obvious to me that most smartphone users typically use a small number of apps for the majority of time. It was easy to jump to other screens to access all of the installed apps.

Speaking of apps, the Windows offerings seem okay. Most of the usual suspects are present, including facebook, twitter, maps, and whatever else floats your boat. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the significance of having the largest selection of apps is one of the greatest marketing charades and red herrings that I’ve ever seen. I continually ask people what apps they use the most, and it almost always turns out to be the various social network apps (which are readily available on ALL OS’s), internet browsing and messaging services. Yet we all download apps that we forget about or never use. For what it’s worth, I like how Windows approaches the handling of apps and how different settings are reached through horizontal scrolling. The interface allows for a nice graphical layout with nice big fonts and a consistent and sensible navigation scheme.

With the Focus, it is becoming apparent to me that maybe the single biggest attraction to a smartphone is a nice big, bright screen. If you get that right, then you then just have to get your marketing right. Speaker and mic quality don’t seem to matter, and the Focus sits somewhere between a Blackberry and iPhone in this regard (iPhone being the worse of the three). Battery life is probably about the same as any other 4″ screen with similar processing power. I really liked how well the OS integrated with Google’s mail, contacts and calendar. It worked extremely well. Another nice bonus is that the phone can also sync up with msn/live accounts and access mesh files along with Skydrive documents.

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Overall I would say that the Focus is a big winner. The hardware is great, the UI experience is very nice, and the integration with google and Microsoft services are useful. I’m not a mobile device expert, pundit or researcher, but I see no reason why the Windows platform will not eclipse Android offerings for the same reason that the iPhone does: they both offer a comprehensive line-up of devices and services based around established home computing operating systems. Microsoft has a polished and slick mobile OS that works with their existing computer ecosystem. I think Windows 8 will be even more interesting as Microsoft moves forward with embedding mobile affordances into their desktop systems.

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