Samsung Omnia (i900): An iPhone Killer?

Samsung announced the Omnia i900 in June 2008.  Sprint wanted an answer to AT&T iPhone runaway success and Samsung rose to the occasion.  I hope to lay my hands on this little baby soon for an indepth review.  The little bird told me that it will be available in Malaysia next month with a price tag of between RM2,200 to RM2,500 depending on the packaging.  When compared to the Apple 3G iPhone at US$199 and US$299, this seems to be a far cry from what the Omnia is going for shortly.  When the iPhone hits our shops, I think the rush for iPhone is more for the hype than the price since a parallel imported iPhone will be about the same as Omnia without the warranty and support.

If you are anticipating the arrival of the iPhone, you may want to take a look at the Omnia for now.  Since the official iPhone is not expected to be in Malaysia until Q4 this year, you do have some time to consider what is touted as an iPhone killer.

So allow me to introduce you to a very sexy device that really does challenge the iPhone directly.  Check out the summary specs, analysis and the looks.

  • TouchWiz UI
  • 3.2″ WQVGA TFT LCD (240 x 400)
  • Windows Mobile 6.1
  • 5-megapixel CMOS camera
  • First Windows Mobile DivX Certified playback
  • 8GB & 16GB – expandable with MicroSD to max of 32GB
  • FM radio
  • GPS
  • TV-out
  • Wifi

Check out the full details here.

Samsung Innovation

The Omnia uses the Windows Mobile 6.1 OS as opposed to the iPhone using the Mac OSX.  The two OS are worlds apart.  However, Windows Mobile has had many generations of experience in delivering PDA and Phone features.  Samsung enhanced it using their TouchWiz UI that makes the Omnia a bit more intuitive much like the iPhone.  HTC is the other manufacturer that has stepped up with TouchFlo to emulate the iPhone interaction using fingers and not with the stylus.

Beyond the UI, Samsung went way ahead to incorporate their homegrown technology, namely, the full fledge 5-megapixel CMOS camera.  This is the first for a PDA class phone device and it comes with full digital camera features like Image Stabilizer, Face and Smile Detection and Auto-Panorama.  It is also the first to support DivX/XviD with video editing capabilities.

Samsung is also a leader in LCD technology and I’m sure combining the best of Samsung consumer electronics in the Windows Mobile device brings the best of both worlds to us.

The maturity of consumer electronics in phone, display, camera has come to a converging point.  iPhone pushed the envelop and the rest are doing a catch up to match it.

The Comparison

The Samsung Omnia should be better than the iPhone in the camera section (both still and video) as well as the phone experience which is more mature.

Apple iPhone went way ahead of everybody with a quantum leap approach of intuitive usage and extremely good LCD.  iPhone remains way ahead in the screen department as well as the entertainment department as their iPod Touch experience is fully integrated with the phone here.

The Verdict

I think the verdict is still out because they are quite different in user experience.  For Windows Mobile fans who have followed since the O2 days and now with HTC, HP, Asus, MWG, I’d say the Omnia will find itself into the diehard serious PDA phone users with their own favorite programs.  With a straight forward save and restore, the Omnia will function seamlessly from their other Windows Mobile devices.

However, for the iPhone, it’s taken a cultic approach.  It’s marketing approach makes fans want it for being seen to have it and being one of the millions in the rest of the world having an iPhone.  It doesn’t matter that the iPhone phone experience is deficient than the Omnia since the iPhone fans look at “cool” quite differently than the Omnia.

I’d be inclined to watch how the Omnia will fare at the early stage before parallel imported iPhones arrive.  Shortly thereafter, the official iPhone will hit the market.  Omnia has a small window of opportunity to win over Windows Mobile fans but I doubt iPhone fans will pay much attention though.

The Onmia is not an iPhone killer but a worthy competitor.  Both about the same size, Omnia shorter but slightly thicker than the iPhone, but iPhone has achieved a frenzied following while the Omnia is just starting out.

Otherwise, the Omnia is a definitely cool and executive looking device.  Go for it!

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8 Comments to “Samsung Omnia (i900): An iPhone Killer?”

  1. hi , do you know the launch date for this product in malaysia

  2. Hai…do you know when will this phone launch in Malaysia…???and does this phone have the function of video calling…???Thank you…

  3. Are we allowed to store music in this phone?And wen will it be launching in Malaysia?plz let me know..thankz

  4. Yes the Omnia is launched and stocks should be already in Malaysia as we speak. It stores 8GB or 16GB depending on the model and it does all your music and even DivX movies. That’s what the space is for coz your emails won’t take that much space 🙂

  5. I’m visiting Kuala Lumpur in a few weeks time and hope to buy this phone there. Can someone tell me a good place to buy the Omnia phone and how much I can expect to pay for it?

  6. John, you can check out this posting or at Gadgets and Gizmos page.

    The 16GB Omnia is going for RM2,999 while the 8GB Omnia is going for RM2,799.

    If you are in KL, check out Low Yat Plaza and Mid Valley IT Centre. I think you can find the Omnia at many of the mobile kiosks with the SAMSUNG branding.

    Good luck! And welcome to Malaysia.

  7. omg, the omnia is a huge disappointment. i got mine in france under the name ‘samsung player addict’ and i wish there were more better reviews out there.
    the screen is easily scratched, there are numerous bugs in the phone (probably due to it being operated under Windows Mobile which lags btw), there are some annoying features (notifications), the camera is average and the you have to change at least two settings to ‘force’ it to use Wifi. google maps doesn’t work on 3G (only with wifi), and i can’t seem to install skype. you have to always use the task manager to manually close your program or else the phone will lag!! and i can’t change the language as well so i’m stuck with the french version! oh yeah, one more thing, the optic mouse doesn’t work barely four months after i got the phone! my advice: iPhone.

    • The Omnia does have a lag in its operations, probably a slower CPU or too many apps in the memory. You must refresh your Windows Mobile in Malaysia at the Samsung Service Center to get a local English version. You may have a back-dated Omnia. Time to upgrade the OS. The Malaysian sets appear to NOT have the problems you described.

      Your advice is well taken. I have an iPhone 3G and it does work much better, smoother and gives a very nice experience overall. Only thing is that you must “jailbreak” it first.

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