Earlier this month, Microsoft staged a massive stunt in New York's Herald Square, building the world's largest Windows Phone in celebration of the launch of Windows Phone 7.5. Included in the stunt was free food, a live performance by Far East Movement, interactive demos, and even a marriage proposal. It was a big event for an even bigger launch that will feature a number of killer new devices, including the much anticipate Nokia Lumia 800. We got our hands on the new Samsung Focus Flash, the first in the series of new Windows Phone devices packed with new and upgraded features. A mashup video from the event and our review are after the jump.
Specs and Pricing
Price: $50 (with 2-year contract)
Weight: 4.1 Ounces
Battery: Up to 300 Hours Standby Time, Up to 6.5 Hours Talk Time
Screen: 800 x 400 pixel main display, 4” display, Super AMOLED Touch Screen
Camera: 5.0 Megapixel, 4x zoom
Memory: Internal 8GB, External Memory Type 16GB
Bluetooth and WiFi enabled
Appearance and Design
For me, it’s a deal-breaker if a phone isn’t as comfortable in my hands as it is on my eyes. The Focus Flash succeeds in this department. Not only does the phone feel light in my hands, but the rounded backside makes it very easy to hold. The screen interface is very simple and the bright contrast of the interface stands out enough for me to give it the OK. Most of it is plastic except for the metal battery cover with a brushed black style on it. The only major pain that I encounter, since I have such fat fingers, is that the search button on the bottom right corner of the phone is very sensitive so if I adjust my grip at all it will usually toss the Bing Search engine up for me and I will have to exit out of it. Besides that, however, there are no complaints and it carries a nice swagger.
It’s super easy to setup this phone and it's also great at connecting with Facebook to populate your “People” section (aka Contacts) with your Facebook friends. Meanwhile, all events that you are invited to and are attending will be uploaded to your calendar. This makes it easier to manage your social calendar when you are busy with your work calendar as well.
Screen and Sound
Some might complain that the Focus Flash doesn’t have an HD screen display, but overall the screen is great. Like I said before, it provides great contrast against the interface, which makes it easy to use. This is helpful when you are outside and trying to deal with the ever-annoying glare. The sound quality is great and the speakers can get fairly loud if you need them to.
Talk and Speakerphone
Yes it is AT&T, so service is always a shot in the dark. The speakerphone works well and both talking and listening are clear. There isn’t much you can expect that will really blow you away or disappoint you in this department
Intuitiveness and Ease of Use
The one word that comes to mind is “fluid.” The entire user experience is insanely clean and was rather unexpected. After getting the phone in my hands, it took no time to understand what the Windows Phone fan boys are so excited about. The interface feels alive and there are a lot of dynamic elements working together, all while staying clean and again, fluid.
I also absolutely love that it comes with so many pre-installed apps. It can sync with your Xbox Live account, and the Microsoft Office app allows you to access Word doc*ments, Excel spreadsheets, and PowerPoint presentations on your phone easily. I particularly like the Local Scout feature that provides all the local venues of interest, such as bars, restaurants, events, attractions, and places to shop, all of which you can bookmark. I found a couple of good new lunch spots near BroBible HQ in SoHo using this feature. With so many included features on the phone, I’m pretty well equipped before even hitting the app marketplace.
The battery is top-notch and it feels like it lasts forever. It’s solid and you don’t have to worry about charging it every night even though I always do just in case.
As I said before, I really enjoy all of the pre-installed apps that are included with this phone. It has all the essentials to get me up and running. The app Marketplace seems like it’s still a work in progress, though. People will always compare Marketplace with the Apple App Store, but it’s not there yet. You can find some great games and useful apps, but not the same range as iPhone and Droid.
Camera and Video
This is easily the biggest downfall of the phone. With a 5 megapixel camera you can take decent pictures if the lighting is good enough; however, the low-light photos leave something to be desired and the flash will also wash out some of the picture. Not only that, but the dedicated camera button takes a little bit of effort to use. You can push it down halfway to focus the lens and then all the way to take the picture, but the problem is that since you press it down so hard, the picture will be blurred due to the slight movement of the camera. The only way to take a clear picture is tapping the screen, which can be a problem if you miss the zoom or video tabs that are on the touch screen as well. There is also a front-mounted camera, but it's lens is pretty week, and pictures and videos from it are pretty grainy.
Connecting to Xbox Live is an added bonus to those who are really into bringing up their gamer score on the road. The radio, map, and other interactive features make it a very simple and easy-to-use phone. There is even a built-in "How To" for the phone, if you accidently throw away the manual.
I believe this phone, just like all the other new Windows phones that are set to release in the upcoming year, is going to impress way more people than just the Windows Phone diehards. My main problem, which is personal, is that I have big fingers so sometimes if I’m not paying attention it will accidentally click on the search button and add a little extra annoyance. It is easy to go right back to what you were doing before on the phone with the back button so it’s not that much of a problem, but just a small annoyance. If you are up to grab your first smart phone with AT&T then this is the perfect phone for you. Not only is it inexpensive at $50 with a 2-year agreement, but it’s simple to use and very user friendly.
I give it a very strong B+ overall.