CTIA Fall 2009
Samsung was showing off the Omnia II for Verizon at its booth. Samsung announced the Omnia II at an event in New York in June. They promised a Verizon version at the time, but technically didn't show it. Now it's on display.
The design is slick-yet-professional on the front, with a huge OLED touch screen above a sleek button area. The back has a unique shimmering red design that's decidedly less business-like. It's a strange design choice. It may match Verizon's logo, but perhaps not their customers.
Physically, it's surprisingly thick. It feels about as thick as the Moment, but lacks a slide-out keyboard, so it really has no good reason to be so thick.
Like the first Omnia, the II merges Windows Mobile with Samsung's TouchWiz interface. Again, Samsung has done a good job of making Windows Mobile more finger-friendly and covering up the uglier parts of Windows Mobile. With the Omnia II, they've gone even farther with this. Both the home screen and the main menu now have a sliding panels design where you can swipe left or right to switch between pages of widgets or icons, just like iPhone or Android.
The current prototypes run Windows Mobile 6.1, but Samsung was quick to let us know that the software isn't final. They specifically left open the possibility that it would ship with 6.5, and said that the release date has not been determined yet. However, Samsung's TouchWiz and other interface tweaks replace enough of the default Windows Mobile interface that we're not sure it would matter much to most people whether it runs 6.1 or 6.5.
Perhaps what's most interesting about the Omnia II is the new version of TouchWiz that it uses. In addition to the nice design touches it has sprinkled throughout the Omnia II's menu system, it also features the new media cube.
The cube is a 3D image that floats in the middle of the screen. Below it is a dock with a handful of buttons. The cube has a different application on each side making for a total of six. You can spin the cube around on the screen to find and open the application you want, such as the photo gallery, music player, and so on. It's neat, and looks cool. I am not sure that it's the most practical way to access your applications, but I've seen much worse. It takes a little while to get used to the positioning of the six applications, but it's not too hard to get the hang of.
Another nice touch is the way the browser handles bookmarks. Rather than interact with a boring list of links to web sites, the Omnia II gathers them together and presents them in carousel fashion. Each bookmark is represented by a card with a screen shot of the web site on it. You can sort through the cards and choose the site you want to visit. It makes finding bookmarks a lot more fun.
In all, the Omnia II is a decent integration of TouchWiz and Windows Mobile. It feels more refined that the original Omnia, that's for sure. Release date and pricing information is not yet available.
Here's a video tour to give you a better idea of what we're talking about.