Samsung B7320 OmniaPRO review – efficient workhorse

Introduction
We have spent a couple of weeks with the Samsung B7320 OmniaPRO. It is not everyday that one runs into a Windows Mobile device that costs below N50, 000. What is even more striking is the fact that the device in question packs a punch with some of the most up-to-date features in the market.

The closest we have come to this was the Samsung i780, another candybar QWERTY running on Windows Mobile. The i780 is about two years old now but still quite in the game.

Samsung B7320 OmniaPRO Key Features

  • Operating System: Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard [upgradeable to 6.5]
  • Size and Weight: 111.8 x 59.6 x 12.6 mm. 110 gm
  • Display: 65, 000 colors. 320 x 240 pixels, 2.4 inches
  • Processor: Qualcomm MSM 7201A 528 MHz processor
  • Data: GPRS, EDGE, 3G, HSDPA (3.6 Mbps)
  • Camera: 3.2 MP, 2048×1536 pixels, autofocus
  • Memory: 100mb + microSD slot (no card in retail box)
  • Connectivity: USB. Bluetooth
  • Text Input: QWERTY keyboard
  • Mesaging: SMS, MMS, EMail, Instant Messaging
  • Web Browser: Pocket Internet Explorer
  • Large capacity Li-Ion 1480 mAh battery
  • Wi-Fi
  • Video call with secondary VGA videocall camera
  • Office documents viewing and editing
  • PDF viewer
  • Built-in modem (internet sharing)

Strengths

  • Very good battery life
  • Very good loudspeaker
  • One-handed use and interface
  • Highly functional QWERTY keyboard with preset & customisable shortcuts
  • Good display

Weaknesses

  • Older version of pocket internet explorer
  • No flash with the 3.2 mega-pixel camera
  • microSD card slot under the battery cover

Operating System and User Interface
touchwiz home main paneThe barebones Windows Mobile user interface may be dated when it comes to touchscreen devices i.e. devices running Windows Mobile Professional. But the B7320 runs Windows Mobile Standard, which is the WinMo version for non-touch devices.

It is a pleasant surprise that Windows Mobile on non-touch works just fine and logical. There is little to fault here, and coming from us, that is saying something.

So, while WinMo certainly needs to update the user interface for touch devices (WinMo Professional), any updates carried over to WinMo Standard are just a bonus.

Form factor and Display
The B7320 is a candybar device. It is slim enough for one-handed use, which suites WinMo Standard just fine. The device is very light, but feels good in the hand.

The display is 2.4 inches, perhaps not as large as some would like (its a tweeny bit larger than the display of the new Nokia E72, for example), but it is sharp and clear. There are up to 5 levels of brightness that can be set and the phone has a sensor too for automatically adjusting brightness.

Samsung has implemented several homescreen options.
In all there are over 8 homescreen layouts. Our favourite is the WizPro (which looks like an adaptation of the famous TouchWiz home interface). This gives you quick access to notifications, 8 favourite contacts, music and video, photo album, and a list of 8 application shortcuts.

Navigation and Text Input
As stated earlier, the B7320 runs WinMo Standard which is optimised for non-touch smartphones, so navigation is entirely via physical keys. Navigation is mostly logical and stressless.

Navigation is via a central D-pad and soft keys on the display.

It is our first time here toying with a WM Standard device and using it has been pleasurable.

Text input is via a very well laid-out QWERTY keyboard that holds its own besides the likes of the Nokia E71, E63 and a range of Blackberry devices.

In addition, the keyboard has dedicated buttons for calling up Pocket Internet Explorer, Messages, Symbols, Contacts, and Camera. In addition, you can specify other shortcuts using a combination of “Alt” button and another. For example, we have “Alt + B” setup to toggle on/off bluetooth. The keyboard is simply a joy to use.

There is a dedicated home button that returns the display to the homescreen. A long press on this same button calls up the task manager. This displays a list nof all running programmes, and you can switch to any of them. You can also terminate one or all of them.

Internet
mobinaijaThe Samsung B7320 comes with a web browser pre-installed. Unfortunately, it is pocket Internet Explorer. That means, this phone has one of the lowest grade browsers on the planet.

That is not necesarilly bad news.It works well, loading both mobile and desktop format websites. But accessing advanced web services results in frustration. By advanced, we mean trying to login to Cpanel to manage your webhosting account or wanting to load flash pages.

Some other advanced services do work. We were able to login to our internet banking account without any issues.

Internet banking over 256-bit security works without issues
Internet banking over 256-bit security works without issues

Other limitations of PIE include not being able to open multiple windows (tabs), less than good page rendition and almost always having to scroll sideways on certain webpages.

Of course, you can always install and use Opera Mini, Skyfire, UCweb or Iris (if you still have a copy). All these are available 3rd party browsers for the WinMo standard platform.

Email
The email client is standard WinMo fare and works fine. The mail client supports both POP3 and IMAP. Setting up Gmail or regular corporate mail works fine and without issues, so no surprises here.

Organizer and Office features
The B7320 comes with an Office document viewer and editor, so you can carry and manage your documents with you on the go.

Multimedia
The phone packs a 3.2 mega-pixel camera, which does a good job but is hindered by lack of flash.

The standard media player is built-in for audio and video playback. Both work fine. While not the best media player in the smartphone world, the very loud audio reproduction of the B7320 makes listening to tracks and watching videos a joy.

Everybody knows... John Legend on the media player. Album art works fine.
Everybody knows... John Legend on the media player. Album art works fine.

In addition, music tracks on your PC can be set to sync automatically with your phone once connected.

Watching an edition of the Phones Show in full screen mode
Watching an edition of the Phones Show in full screen mode

Battery Life
A very important consideration in choosing a smartphone is battery life. Here, the B7320 surprises us pleasantly. The battery lasts about 48 hours with consistent email retrieval over a 3G connection, web browsing, camera usage, SMS, and voice calls, among others.

To summarise, the battery simply lasts. This is one smartphone that you won’t have to worry about battery life with.

Customisation
Of course, being Windows Mobile, it is possible to further customise the B7320 to your requirements by installing 3rd party applications. It is important to note though that some apps developed for WM Professional will not work on it. Still, there are loads of WM Standard apps out there.

For starters, you can now download and install Windows MarketPlace. You can then use that to hunt out other applications and/or games you may want.

We also downloaded and installed the Windows MyPhone app and it works fine for backing up and synchronising files on the device.

Synchronizing contacts, calendar items and files via Microsoft MyPhone
Synchronizing contacts, calendar items and files via Microsoft MyPhone

Conclusion
The B7320 is a pleasant surprise. Samsung has done an excellent job on this, just like they did with the i780. The B7320 does better though with the excellent battery life and new homescreens, great audio reproduction, as well as price.

In addition, Samsung is set to release a WM 6.5 upgrade for the B7320. This will deliver a much better and up-to-date version of Pocket Internet Explorer, as well as MyPhone and MarketPlace built-in. We are eagerly waiting for that upgrade.

Our verdict: This phone rocks on a 4 on a scale of 5!

The B7320 is something of a pleasant surprise. It is good value for money and delivers the goods.
The B7320 issomething of a pleasant surprise. It is good value for money and delivers the goods.
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4 thoughts on “Samsung B7320 OmniaPRO review – efficient workhorse”

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  2. Looking forward to a review on lg gw300. The features on slotltd.com seems to be more than what obtains on other phone specifications sites. I don’t know which to believe. Is it a marketing strategy? I’m think of going for it. You once reviewed ks360.

  3. Kay123,

    We look forward to reviewing the LG GW300, as well as several other phones. But phone reviews is expensive business here in Nigeria. as a matter of fact, to the best of our knowledge, we are the most consistent, most persistent phone review site in Nigeria.

    As of now, neither the manufacturers nor retailers give out loan units for reviews, as obtains in certain other countries. As such, we have to purchase the phone, review it and then sell it off as fast as possible at a price a little lower than the market price. We then buy the next device for review.

    At times, we get a buyer. At other times, we are stuck with the phone.

    By the way, the Samsung B7320 smartphone has been put up for sale. Anyone interested?

    If anyone has contacts in the manufacturers and/or retailers, perhaps you could drop a word for us about getting loan units for reviews?

  4. Your review sounds the way I sound when I talk about my Nokia 5800 – elated, exhilarated!

    While phones with physical QWERTY keyboards are great, having used a phone with touchscreen for a while, I would hesitate to acquire a non-touchscreen phone.

    A phone that has both touchscreen AND a physical QWERTY keyboard would probably solve the controversy as to which input method is best. For me, it is ‘touch’. I can type properly on a regular keyboard. But I find it easier and faster using a virtual (touchscreen keyboard) rather than a physical qwerty.

    So, maybe we can look @ this – what are the strengths/weaknesses of a touchscreen phone versus one with a physical QWERTY? Why shouldnt ALL smartphone worth its salt have BOTH input methods?

    With the advent of speech-recognition software like ‘Vlingo’, though, and as they get better, the specific input method on a phone may be less of a determining factor for choosing it..

    What are the strengths/weaknesses of the two input styles?

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