Samsung's Windows Phone 7 offering, the Focus, showcases the brand new OS nicely with a gorgeous display, slim design and fast performance. Windows Phone 7 is still missing some key features however, like copy and paste and third party multitasking, which makes it a tough sell against the Samsung Captivate, an Android phone.
When I first heard that Microsoft would be placing hardware restrictions on manufacturers, I imagined boring, uniform designs. Fortunately, the Samsung Focus is undoubtedly a Samsung phone with its glossy piano-black face and rounded edges.
Measuring 4.8-by-2.5-by-0.4-inches, the Focus is the thinnest of the Windows Phone 7 devices. Weighing 4.2 ounces, the Focus is lighter than the iPhone 4. The front face of the phone is dominated by its 4-inch Super AMOLED display with three touch sensitive buttons below it: back, home and search. These three buttons are part of Microsoft's hardware requirements for manufacturers.
On the right side of the phone, you'll find the power button and the dedicated camera key. This camera key is another hardware requirement and I'm actually really excited about this small feature. Shooting a decent photo on a smartphone can be tricky, especially when you have to hold the camera and hit an onscreen shutter button. The inclusion of a hardware shutter button is something that all smartphones with high quality cameras (ahem, the iPhone) should have. The shutter button also has another unique feature: When your phone is in sleep mode, pressing the shutter button wakes it up and brings you directly to camera mode.
On the phone's left spine, you'll find the volume rocker. The USB port (with that annoying sliding cover that Samsung seems to be fond of) and a 3.5-mm headphone jack sits at the top of the phone.
Back to the display: Samsung's Super AMOLED display technology is one of the best when it comes to colour saturation, clarity and performance outdoors. Samsung's Super AMOLED technology puts touch sensors on the display itself, as opposed to creating a separate layer (which Samsung's old AMOLED displays had), making it the thinnest display technology on the market.
Super AMOLED is fantastic, you really have to see it in person. Colours burst out of the display and animations appear lively and smooth. Some reviewers have noted that colours look oversaturated, but I don't really mind the effect. While the display also does quite well in bright outdoor light, the phone's glossy hardware sometimes reflects a killer glare.
By now, you're probably familiar with how Windows Phone 7 is a completely redone operating system. Any preconceived notions you may have about Microsoft's mobile products should be forgotten immediately. Windows Phone 7 is light, fast and user-friendly. It isn't perfect, however. Missing features like copy/paste and true multitasking are big oversights (despite Microsoft announcing that copy/paste update will come in January). I also don't find the OS all that aesthetically pleasing or visually consistent and navigating through the OS requires a lot of scrolling.