Thoughts on S60

reflections on the most popular mobile operating system worldwide

Samsung i8910HD Review: THE device of 2009?

with 23 comments

The road to getting myself settled with a Samsung i8910HD has certainly been a long one. After going through 2 defective 8gb i8910HD’s and getting a 16gb that works properly, about a dozen headaches trying to get the firmware software installed and running properly on my PC, and going through almost all of the different available firmwares for the phone, I’ve finally gotten myself comfortable enough to write a proper review. Hopefully I’ll be able to highlight some features of the i8910HD that haven’t been featured in any of the other reviews that have already been published and shed some light on how the i8910HD performs for those who can’t handle one themselves so easily.

I purchased two defective 8gb i8910HD’s from CellsWholesale (pending a full refund) and I purchased the 16gb i8910HD used in this review from Mobile City Online for $725 total ($699+25 overnight shipping, now backordered).

Thanks to all who attended the live Q+A on Qik! If you missed it (and have a couple hours to kill), you can watch the full video here.

Build Quality

The first two thing you notice when handling the i8910HD is how solid it feels in your hand. This isn’t too difficult to achieve with a monoblock form factor that has no moving parts to the design, but the feel of the materials used combined with the weight and balance of the device make for a very gratifying feeling when holding it. When I had the opportunity to hold the N97 in one hand and the i8910HD in the other, it really made the N97 feel very cheap, plasticky, and hollow, similar to how the N95 felt when it was first released. It’s piano-black finish and reflective chrome accents around the outside of the camera lens and screen makes it very eye-catching.

The downside is that the black plastic is an absolute fingerprint magnet. It’s not quite as bad as handling a black iPhone, but very close. After only a couple minutes of use, I found myself needing to wipe the entire phone down with my jeans and when it became really bad, an alcohol pad.

Another thing I’m not crazy about is the durability of the plastic. In addition to collecting fingerprints, it also seems to show hairline scratches even though I’ve made it a point to be very careful in handling the device.

For size reference, the i8910HD is a bit taller than an iPhone 3GS, but a less wide, making it much easier to grip. To keep it in perspective, the phone is also very thin, especially considering all of the hardware it’s packing. It’s 1mm thinner than the original Motorola RAZR!

Screen

The i8910HD is the only device currently available with such a large combination of features. It certainly isn’t everyday you see a 3.7″ AMOLED capacitive touchscreen at 640×360 resolution displaying 16 million colors. If that sounds like a mouthful, well it is, and the display speaks for itself. Even with all of the pictures that are currently floating around on the internet, none of them do the screen proper justice. With an N85 in the house that shares similar AMOLED technology, the brightness and colors of the screen are on a completely different level that needs to be seen with your own eyes to fully understand.

I was surprised at just how accurate the capacitive screen is, given the nature of the technology. I feared that using applications specifically designed for use with a stylus would be difficult to use, but thus far, I’ve only run into a couple instances where it’s been a issue. The size of the screen helps helps make up the lack of stylus support considerably.

The Achilles heel of the i8910HD’s gorgeous screen is undoubtedly its performance outdoors. Although all LCD screens are effected by direct sunlight differently, AMOLED screens are the worst. That said, the display is still readable and usable under such conditions, a bit more so than the N85, but it’s not something you’d want to deal with for several hours each day.

Operation and Network Performance

Briefly recapping the hardware specs of the i8910HD,

-600MHz CPU (with PowerVR SGX hardware acceleration)
-256mb of RAM (about 170mb available on boot)
-45mb of available internal memory (NOT the 16gb mass storage)

And revisiting the hardware in the N97,

-434MHz CPU (without hardware acceleration)
-128mb of RAM (about 42mb available on boot)
-56mb of available internal memory (NOT the 32gb mass storage)

Of those specs, I think the processor speed really is negligible. Though the i8910HD is noticeably faster than the N97, the speed difference is barely noticeable in most applications. The larger amount of RAM is what makes the bigger difference. I can confidently say I have not once had to worry about how many applications I was running in the background, a claim I can not make about the N97. It is literally impossible to crash it.

Notice the scroll bar on the side of the task manager? This screenshot was taken with more than 40, forty, applications running simultaneously

Although the i8910HD does respond very quickly in most areas, the advantage of the boosted hardware is seen much more in the stability and reliability of the device. Regardless of what combination of applications is open or what you happen to be doing on the phone at any given time, you know that anything else you want to open is going to open in the same amount of time, every time. If you press the camera button, the camera opens, and opens quickly, every time. It was a feeling of confidence I haven’t felt when using a device since I first handled the N95-3, properly equipped with the added RAM it needed to keep up with my usage. It really set the bar for what I expected out of every device to come ever since, and everything between it and the i8910HD has had a significant compromise somewhere down the line.

Even with the faster CPU and over four times the available RAM , the i8910HD shares one critical flaw with the N97: low internal storage. After testing several firmware variants from different regions, the amount on available internal storage rests anywhere between 25 and 45mb after a fresh reformat. Now that I’ve set up my i8910HD with all of the applications I use regularly, I am down to 15mb of available storage and it will only get worse from here. I find myself clearing the cache of the browser before I close it every time I use it, I empty my messages almost daily, and still I feel like it will need another hard reset before the month is out. There’s no excuse for these 5th Edition devices not to have at least 100mb of available internal storage.

Network

As I wrote before, the i8910HD is equipped with a quad-band GSM (850/900/1800/1900) and tri-band UMTS radios (900/1900/2100) built primarily for the European market. While the typical spec for a “NAM” device includes support for both the 850 and 1900 UMTS frequencies, the i8910HD is only able to use AT&T’s 3G on the 1900 UMTS frequency here in the US.

To put it simply, the i8910HD DOES work with AT&T’s network and actually performs better than some NAM devices in areas where AT&T’s 1900 UMTS coverage exists.

There are two likely reasons for this noticeable difference in speed. The first is because the UMTS radio used in the i8910HD supports 7.2Mbps HSDPA and 5.7Mbps HSUPA (the N97 only supports 3.6Mbps HSDPA and 1.9Mbps HSUPA). The second is presumably because of the variation in network traffic. The i8910HD is forced on to the 1900 UMTS frequency which is more vacant than the newly established 850 UMTS towers that all the other 3G-enabled AT&T devices are connecting to in the area. This is good because those who have a strong 1900 UMTS frequency in their area get to reap the benefits of very fast HSDPA, but bad because those that do not have 1900 UMTS available in their area never will. AT&T is expanding only the 850 UMTS coverage where their 3G isn’t yet available. That means that if the i8910HD doesn’t pick up a 3G connection where you are now, it probably never will.

Generally speaking, the reception of the i8910HD appears to be lower than all other Nokia devices in the house, but it also has yet to make a difference. Even with only one bar in weak reception areas of certain rooms, the phone has not failed to send or receive calls or text messages. If anything, it appears to be a more realistic display of the reception I have, whereas I’ve been unable to make calls on occasion with some of the other devices in the house  when they are displaying full reception.

Another quirk I’ve noticed regarding the i8910HD’s network connectivity is the time it takes to connect. Any Nokia I have in the house takes less than 4 seconds or so to establish an active data connection, but the i8910HD seems to take around 10 seconds. With a couple automated applications running in the background all day that access the network, I usually never notice this, but for users who use their devices more traditionally, I can see how having to wait for this connection every time could get annoying real quick.

Text Input

The i8910HD features three different virtual methods for text input; a traditional keypad for T9 and traditional tap input, a large landscape QWERTY keyboard, and handwriting recognition using a finger instead of a stylus.

The virtual keypad is easily my favorite input method. Combined with the extra sensitivity of the capacitive screen, typing comes very natural and some pretty fast speeds can be achieved.

I wasn’t a big fan of the landscape QWERTY when I first started using it, but with the correct typing technique, I have grown to like it almost as much as the virtual T9. With the haptic vibration feedback turned up to 5, you can achieve much better results if you treat the keys as if they were really buttons instead of just tapping on a screen. This helps each press to be more focused and eliminates the “brushing” motion that usually results in undesired characters. It also helps to remember that the screen only recognizes one press at a time and the keyboard recognizes when your finger is lifted from the screen, not when the screen is pressed. Using these methods, I’ve been able to type nearly as fast as I can with the virtual T9.

Even with these two input methods being relatively fast, they still don’t hold a candle to hardware buttons. There have been several occasions where I found myself missing the hardware QWERTY on the N97. The virtual T9 keypad and the landscape QWERTY work well for messaging, web forms, or even a lengthy email, but for extensive blog posts in WordMobi? I’d honestly prefer to use an N97. As such, I highly doubt I’ll be doing as much mobile blogging as I would have liked to coming off the N97 24/7 trip.

I’ve heard several people complain about the lack of a virtual portrait QWERTY keyboard, but not only do I understand why it was left out, but I’m glad too. That keyboard was specifically designed to be used with a stylus on the Nokia 5800XM and I think I speak for a majority of 5800XM users when I say it was the least practical text input method. Even with the 3.7″ screen, the tip of your finger would cover 5 or more of the tiny keys and the capacitive screen would have to guess which character you were trying to press. Without some form of auto-correction similar to what’s found on the iPhone, a mini-portrait QWERTY would be simply unusable.

Battery Life

In terms of realistic, day-to-day usage, the i8910HD is able to withstand my heavy beatings for about a little more than a full day. Now that I’ve settled into using the device more regularly, the phone is starting to last considerably longer and I’ve been able to squeeze out an average of two days of battery life out of what I’d consider “moderate” usage. In one example, I streamed a 70+ minute Qik video on the highest quality settings over a WLAN connection and was left with one bar of battery (which lasted until around 9pm that night). In a similar example, the N85 only managed to make it through 45 minutes before dying entirely and forcing me to switch to the N97 to stream the rest of the Qik session that day. Generally speaking, the battery life has been very impressive and well received after going through batteries like water on the N97.

Unlike traditional Nokia S60 devices that usually remain at full bars all day and dramatically drop to one or zero bars in the last few hours of discharge, the i8910HD is almost the exact opposite. It seems to drop the first six bars within the first 4-6 hours and then “sticks” on one bar for several additional hours before the low battery prompt starts to pop up. While trying to train the battery (if that’s even necessary anymore), I have experienced several nights actively trying to kill the last bar of juice and had to wait close to 3-4 hours before it finally gave up. It has been suggested that the final bar of battery shows the remaining 30% of battery life, which seems about right.

A welcome addition to S60 5th Edition is a built-in battery saving mode. Although not like the power saving mode found on the most recent batch of 3rd Edition Nseries devices, the i8910HD automatically turns this setting on when the phone reaches a certain charge level (often when the phone shows zero bars). It disables the use of any native resource-intensive applications, dims the screen, and usually allows for an additional hour of use before the device dies entirely. I would like to have seen some customization options for this feature, but none are supported.

Camera and Media

Every review has talked about the camera on this behemoth of an imaging device, but they usually only mention the bigger points. I want to share some of the overlooked features of the i8910HD’s camera.

One thing that surprised me the first time I used the camera is how insanely fast it was. It took less than 2 seconds to launch and around 1 second to switch between image/video recording modes. Everything else I’ve used from Nokia has taken at least twice as long!

Digital Stills

The i8910HD brings a lot of camera features to S60 that haven’t been seen on any Nseries as of yet. A lot of them I don’t see myself using on a day-to-day basis, but even with automatic settings enabled, it takes some incredible stills.

Here are some quick shots taken on our recent night out to dinner.

As good as the images are during the day, it’s almost the exact opposite in any low light conditions. Every picture taken in less than bright conditions usually resulted in a blurry image that needed several retakes before I could get a decent shot. If your subject is moving, forget about it.

The flash is no help either. The single LED is very bright and useful for recording video, but overexposes most images when used as a camera flash. I never thought dual-LED made that much of a difference until I saw it for myself.

Video Recording

Although the initial firmware that came installed on the first batch of i8910HD’s suffered from a poor audio codec used when recording video, the current IG2 firmware available swapped it for a new AAC codec at 16000Hz. It’s still not at the same audio recording level as most Nseries devices, but to be fair, no Nseries is currently able to record in 720p (1280×720) or D1 (720×480) either. Aside from the aforementioned video recording settings, the camera also supports slow-motion capture, fast-motion capture, and several other recording settings that are fun to play around with.

I didn’t record any video samples for this review since it has clearly been covered to death, being the most popular feature of the i8910HD. If you’d like to see some samples, you can find dozens from owners of the device by searching YouTube for “i8910”.

In my own experience, I found the 720p video recording to be sufficient for what it is. I did experience some frame dropping, but it wasn’t too noticeable. I much preferred to use the D1 recording setting to get 30fps out of my videos.

I also found that there are manufacturer’s codes available that can alter the sensitivity of the microphone when recording video to capture audio more appropriately in different environments. For example, the microphone tends to pick up a lot of scratchy noise in loud environments, but adjusting this setting allows for the sound to be recorded more naturally and sound as it should during playback.

Video Playback

This is easily my favorite feature of the media aspects of the i8910HD. Several codecs are supported right out of the box which allows me to drag and drop unconverted video clips directly on to the internal storage or memory card and play them without any issues. The video looks fantastic on that awesome screen, and it’s ridiculously fast.

If the 3.7″ screen isn’t large enough for you, you can also launch the DLNA application to stream videos, music, and pictures wirelessly over a WLAN connection to a compatible DLNA device. In my case, I am able to stream my content to my HDTV through my PS3.

GPS

Regardless of which app you choose for navigation on the i8910HD, one thing remains consistent: the GPS lock is ridiculously fast and powerful. For reference, I have noticed that GoogleMaps will connect to 10 (yes, ten) satellites while indoors in a matter of seconds. Any of my previous Nokia-S60 devices would only connect to a maximum of 4 satellites indoors after several seconds longer, and that’s only when close to a window.

The reason the TTF(time to first fix) happens so quickly is largely due to the i8910HD’s unique method of obtaining assisted-GPS data. Traditionally, devices that use A-GPS download data in real-time when the GPS connection is requested, which requires a data connection every time an application that uses GPS is launched. Instead, the i8910HD uses an application called GPS+ to download all of the A-GPS data for an entire week in advance. That means that rather than download data every time a GPS application is launched, the information is already available to help acquire a fix.

Unfortunately, the GPS+ application can only download the A-GPS data over EDGE/HSDPA connections (not WLAN), though this method eats up considerably less data than the previous method for those who do not have an unlimited data plan. The cool thing is you can set the application to automatically download the A-GPS data weekly (which is how often the information expires).

For a much more detailed description of how this works, you can check out Michal Jerz’s i8910HD review on my-symbian.com.

Application Compatibility

For whatever reason, there has been a lot of speculation that traditional 3rd and 5th Edition applications would not be compatible with the i8910HD just because it’s a Samsung instead of a Nokia. Rather than go down a list of all of the applications that do work with this phone, I find it easier to describe the situations where applications do not install or work as they should.

API-specific applications

These types of applications are very rare, but they cause errors when trying to access the camera more than any other situation. This is usually because it’s a completely different camera module with completely different software that these applications can not interface with. The only other time I’ve seen this is when trying to use the digital compass with Nokia Maps, which doesn’t seem to recognize the i8910HD’s digital compass at all.

Unsigned applications

Just like any Nokia device, any unsigned apps need to be signed with a developer certificate before they are installed. Alternatively, your device needs to be hacked with a proper installserver.exe file to allow all apps to be installed without a certificate check. There is virtually no difference in this process between a Samsung S60 device and a Nokia S60 device (check the next section for details about signing and hacking applications and devices, respectably).

Nokia-specific applications

Out of the box, the i8910HD will not install any Nokia-specific applications at all since they are all signed with a Nokia-specific certificate. With the new hacking methods that are currently available (HelloOx2, RomPatcher+), numerous sites that generate IMEI-based certificate and key files to sign applications yourself (OPDA, iMobile, S60CertKey), and even simple hacks to allow the device to work with the Ovi Store website, it is relatively easy for even newcomers to get around these obstacles. To date, the only application that I have not been able to get working properly is Ovi Contacts, probably due to the integration with the default Contacts app. I’m currently using Ovi Maps,  Nokia Email, Wireless BT Keyboard, Barcode scanner, and SportsTracker without any noticeable differences (other then a lot of the larger apps opening and running faster). I was also able to get Ovi Sync working with the Nokia 5800XM settings and I’m hoping to see Nokia’s Communication Center working with the i8910HD in the future (since it is a cut above Samsung’s desktop messaging application in PC Studio).

General Gripes

While I’m overall very satisfied with the device for my needs, there are a few things that I am seriously missing coming from a long line of Nokias.

-No voice dialing. For reals. Although it can be found in the emulator for the i8910HD, this feature didn’t make it to the final product, nor to any of the firmwares I’ve tested thus far. I believe it has something to do with licensing to Nuance, the company that provides Nokia with their voice dialing solution. If that is correct, it also means it’s very unlikely this will ever be added in the future.

-No Share Online and a broken YouTube uploader. The i8910HD does feature its own online sharing solution called “Communities” that allows you to upload media to Facebook, Flickr, Friendster, MySpace, Photo Bucket, and YouTube, but with the most current firmware, the YouTube uploader fails to get uploaded videos to show up on your YouTube account. To add insult to injury, the Communities app is currently broken after setting up my device again. With no way to use any additional services such as PixelPipe like you can with Share Online, it really stifles the sharing abilities of the awesome camera.

-Old, buggy browser. While I don’t do too much web browsing on my phones as much as I used to, the browser on the i8910HD is almost identical to the older one found on the 5800XM. That means no kinetic scrolling, no scrolling at all until most pages are loaded entirely, slow rendering, and worst of all, the most recent firmware has a bug that closes the browser altogether if you press the “Stop” button while the page is loading. It’s manageable, but not something that can be overlooked for long. The now delayed H1 firmware is supposed to add several browser improvements and I’d be very surprised if fixing this issue wasn’t one of them.

-No usable home screen. I didn’t cover the various home screens or TouchWiz in my review because as of now, none of them are very useful whatsoever. TouchWiz doesn’t currently have a large variety of useful widgets, so customizing the home screen with them is more like rebuilding what was already available on a standard S60 home screen. Using the traditional home screen is a bit better, but there’s no customization outside of the four icons (and no support for any messages at all). The last option is just a blank screen with no icons whatsoever. After being able to customize the N97’s home screen to death and with the recent Gravity update that features its own home screen widgets, I want THAT for my i8910HD. With luck, some more interesting things will come out of the widget contest Samsung is hosting.

-General availability and firmware distribution. As I briefly mentioned at the beginning of this review, I suffered through several headaches trying to get the most current firmware loaded onto this phone, an experience that’s made more painful by the high price tag and difficulty of acquiring this phone. It is currently only available as an import without a US warranty and it seems to have taken all summer just to get this far. Firmware updates are also region specific and if you happen to pick one up that isn’t from Italy, you’ll probably have to read up on some of the “unofficial” flashing guides to get the latest updates. The process isn’t too difficult, but since it requires a 32-bit Windows machine running XP or Vista and I happen to be running a 64-bit version of Windows 7, my first day with the i8910HD was a frustrating one indeed.

-No UDP. Part of the reason it has taken so long to get comfortable with this device is because EVERYTHING gets reset with every firmware update. I’m used to this with older S60 devices, but what with it being a Samsung and different in many areas of the Settings menu from similar S60 Nokias, it seems to take that much longer to get everything where I want it again. The biggest bit of help I have had thus far has been from an app called AutoInstaller, which was recently updated to support 5th Edition devices. With a hacked phone, all you have to do is drop all of your sis files into the thinkchange/e folder, launch the application, and hit “Start Install”. As long as it doesn’t run into any errors, it will install all of your apps without prompting you whatsoever.

Conclusion

No device is perfect, and the i8910HD is no exception. I recently read a forum post describing the i8910HD as “the iPhone of S60” and I completely agree with that. Where it lacks in the smooth software experience that’s synonymous with the iPhone, it makes up for with impressive hardware that doesn’t let you down, combining several high-end features into a nearly complete all-in-one package. Even with its shortcomings, the overall speed and stability deliver a consistent experience for even the biggest power-users. It certainly isn’t for everyone, and newcomers to S60 altogether may feel a bit feint of heart when reading about all of the hacking and customizations that can be done to this device. The beauty though is that even right out of the box with the most recent firmware, the device is very capable of providing an above-par experience, even if you’re unfamiliar with smartphones entirely.

Seeing as this will be the final round of S60 devices we’ll see before everything begins to switch gears to the Symbian Foundation (the i8910HD and N97 being candidates), I feel very satisfied using the i8910HD until that switch is complete, especially since I’m trying to stick to my guns and avoid upgrading my phone no sooner than 6 months from now, if not longer. Reflecting on everything I’ve learned from the N97 24/7 trip, forcing myself to use a “normal” phone for 6 months, and going over everything that I or anyone else really need in a smartphone, I want to share a few links to keep everything in perspective.

In searching for the post I was looking for, I realized that the author, Stefan, also linked to the same video embedded above.

In Stefan’s post on IntoMobile.com regarding his path from mobile blogger to Nokia employee and back again, he wrote something that changed the way I view the mobile lifestyle.

What I’m about to say may have me labeled as a heretic by my peers, but the technology we have today is good enough. All progress could stop today, and I honestly would not give a damn. Today I can call anyone in the world, at any time. I can see where I am, and where my friends are, on a map. I have a laptop that, with a new battery, can last over 6 hours; some models on the market today can last for over 9 hours. I can download any photograph, audio recording or film ever made over broadband. These technology marvels exist today and will soon be available to everyone.

The economy crashed and many people lost their jobs, many people curbed their spending, but did many people stop and realize how truly awesome things are today?

I do suggest you read his entire post, but the bottom line is this; as a blogger, it’s easy to rip a device to shreds, find every single fault, and put it together in a post with media and links that’s probably longer than it should be. Whether you use an N97, an i8910HD, a Storm, a TouchPro2, a Hero, an iPhone, a Pre, or whatever else, be happy with it and if you’re not, buy something else. The best device available is what best fits you.

I hope this review has helped you decide whether or not the i8910HD is for you, and if not, I hope you can find yourself a device that does exactly what you want. If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading.

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23 Responses

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  1. Very nice review! Congrats!
    Having a i8910 for 2 weeks now, after many nokia phones (2 of the N series) I can tell that its the best phone I had in my hands until now.
    The firmware update takes some time, thats why I still have the IF7 version (waiting for the H1 relase) and even with that Im satisfaid with the overall performance.
    About the browser bugs, in the G4 Hong Kong firmware, the browser has been updated to a new version, faster and stable.

    arthursantossp

    August 26, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    • Thanks!

      I have heard about IG4, but I am really reluctant to format everything again to get it installed since I’ll just have to flash back to the Italian IG2 to get IH1 when it comes out. I’m also not crazy about APAC firmwares since it messes with the characters in the video player. I can’t tell which episode is which!

      Jonathan

      August 26, 2009 at 3:38 pm

  2. Excellent review, love last part the most, putting everything in perspective be happy with what you have no device is perfect. J.Bruha the beauty of your reviews is the pure truthfulness of them you can tell there is no bias which is great. You could have harped on the positives which there are many and not even mentioned the negatives and with those negatives many users might not even want the device for the hassle or headache.
    I have Both devices as you know the n97 and the 18910 and if they can somehow mate i would be in heaven, the omnia hd is hardware wise what the n97 should be and the form factor of the n97 would be awesome with the omnia hardware.
    I for one am still on the fence due to the Browser, lack of voice dial, lack of saying callers name, lack of specified ringtones playing Thru bluetooth headset but again these are my needs, plus im kinda disappointed in the overall camera performance, low light shots arent that good at all.
    I would recommend the phone to anyone as i said with the 3gs but for myself and needs im trying to have the positives outweigh the negatives.
    Once again Great review.

    THETRUTH#34

    August 26, 2009 at 4:06 pm

  3. Jonny,

    Excellent review! This is likely the most comprehensive review of this device on the internet. Thank you for taking the time to write it.

    You’re review is very well rounded. Big Ups!

    -matthew-

    matthew bennett

    August 26, 2009 at 5:43 pm

  4. […] the original post: Samsung i8910HD Review: THE device of 2009?Managed Hosting Service Related PostAugust 26, 2009 — VPS Hosting Coupons 2009 by Webintellects […]

  5. Sir, I salute you! Honestly, what a truly great review and an enjoyable read in its own right. I completely agree with 95% of what you’ve penned.

    Video playback is just sublime and really puts just about every other manufacturer to shame. The screen, oh the screen! When it’s not being viewed in direct sunlight it’s a stunner for sure.

    I remember reading Stefan’s quote… I can’t say I really agree. The technology we have isn’t nearly good enough, we just think it is. I’m more than happy to accept that the communication tool I use in 2009 will look stupidly underpowered in 2012, indeed I’m happy that this will be the case. Science and progress – people underestimate just how much these disciplines have improved life for millions of people.

    But I do take your point; “be happy with it and if you’re not, buy something else. The best device available is what best fits you.” Thankfully due to people like you who give of their valuable time we all have the chance to find out which device is best for us.

    Thanks again for a really great review!

    James Burland

    August 26, 2009 at 6:39 pm

  6. […] Andrew Currie 7:04 pm on August 26, 2009 Permalink | Reply No device is perfect, and the i8910HD is no exception. I recently read a forum post describing the i8910HD as “the iPhone of S60″ and I completely agree with that. Where it lacks in the smooth software experience that’s synonymous with the iPhone, it makes up for with impressive hardware that doesn’t let you down, combining several high-end features into a nearly complete all-in-one package. Even with its shortcomings, the overall speed and stability deliver a consistent experience for even the biggest power-users. via thoughtsons60.com […]

  7. Thanks for your kind words, guys!

    @James, I hope I didn’t come across like I don’t support the growth of technology, because that most definitely was NOT my intention. The progress we’ve made in even the past 5 years alone has changed the way we communicate forever, and that certainly isn’t a bad thing. Of course technology can get better, and it will, but you don’t need to look very far into the past to see just how far we’ve come. I don’t think we do that enough as mobile enthusiasts living on the cutting edge, and we should, just to remember how much worse it could be.

    Again, thanks for reading!

    Jonathan

    August 26, 2009 at 10:33 pm

  8. In response to an email I received:

    1. I don’t know if the browser bugs will be fixed in the next update. I know the “Stop” bug has already been fixed in the Swisscom IG3 and HK IG4/IH1 updates and the browser is also faster, but I don’t know about any other browser improvements.

    2. There is no 3rd party software to add kinetic scrolling and I have not heard anything about Samsung planning to add it in the future. It would be up to Samsung to get the ball rolling on this.

    3. Camera quality in decent lighting settings takes some incredible photos. I am thinking about posting a separate writeup focusing on all the camera options. I wanted to include it in this review, but it would’ve made it WAAAAY longer. There’s TONS more than what’s currently found in Nokia’s camera software.

    4. I had the chance to play the same audio track on the i8910HD and the N97 right next to each other and the Samsung was both a bit louder and sounded very “full”. Sound through the headphones always delivers better quality on any device and the Samsung supports tons of additional sound features when they’re used. The only sound issue I’ve had is A) audio over A2DP to the Samsung WEP870 is VERY low (without manufacturer code tweaking) and B) Garmin MobileXT pauses the music everytime it makes an announcement. :\

    Be sure to check out the live Q+A Qik stream tonight (8/27) at 8pm EST (qik.com/jbruha)

    Jonathan

    August 27, 2009 at 1:56 pm

  9. […] Link […]

  10. […] the entire phone down with my jeans and when it became really bad, an alcohol pad.” Read more here: Share and […]

  11. […] the entire phone down with my jeans and when it became really bad, an alcohol pad.” Read more here: […]

  12. […] a while now and many have been wondering how it performs. So first up is the thorough review by Jonathan Bruha at Thoughts On S60. In the beginning he points out that his way to enjoy this handset have been long and hard, going […]

  13. I gave up on the i8910 and went back to the N97 that suit me better.

    Well, good to hear an experienced user such as Jon is keeping the i8910.

    It’ll be fun to see what apps will be on the i8910 in the near future.

    ming387

    August 31, 2009 at 11:05 am

  14. […] and if you’re not, buy something else. The best device available is what best fits you. from Samsung i8910HD Review: THE device of 2009? Thoughts on S60 […]

  15. […] flash. I never thought dual-LED made that much of a difference until I saw it for myself. From Samsung i8910HD Review: THE device of 2009? Thoughts on S60 and his thought of the browser in the OmniaHD it looks the N900 have ten times better, the sound […]

  16. Great review. Iv’e read lots of them on this phone and still looking for one that details the Bluetooth headset compatibility levels with Car systems. I have a 2005 Dodge (chrysler) that uses a bluetooth system made by Johnson Controls called Uconnect. This system does not work with the Nokia N95. It appears to be an issue with the Symbian bluetooth stack. On researching the i8910, I found that it’s bluetooth does not work with the Lexus Bluetooth system. I have not found any reviews about the chrysler Uconnect system yet. It looks like I may need to be the one who tests this phone out and notifies other Chrysler bluetooth users about its compatibility….

    marcucs

    September 3, 2009 at 12:59 am

  17. thanks man, really nice review to make the confused people clear.

    anand

    September 18, 2009 at 2:51 pm

  18. Sir,
    1st & foremost may I thank & congratulate you on the most comprehensive Review I have come across re the Samsung i8910HD & Nokia N97 via the web to date. If I & others were able to vote & if there was a prize for the Best Mobilephone Review/Blog to date, then you would surely win it! That having been said I hope that as a newcomer and maybe like many others (less telecoms based) wishing for precise information about a technology product I have to say that I did not understand some things within this article.

    What is (1) the S60 is it a platform that the Samsung HD is based upon & do both Nokia N97 (other Nokia’s) thus share the same (for those of us not so technology minded in this field) & what is S60 relevance? (2) I am in the UK & have come across a very disgruntled and unhappy User/Purchaser who wrote (via Samsung UK website) a long, damning & critical piece on the HD Video (recording/playback) of this Samsung i891HD producing very blurred, shaky video clips with jagged edges, which would not clean up (post production) & that like many of us the main reason that he purchased the Samsung Omni HD was re the HD video recording capability. So my question is (3) is this true? (4) if the handset had been purchased in Italy would this have overcome the User’s problem i.e. better video/handset? (5) is there different models/versions of this Samsung handset out there, being sold? and (6) which model, Samsung internal number should I & others be looking for when purchasing (as Italy is mentioned in this report too)? (7) Exactly which version of firmware is best stable/suitable for this Samsung please & where can we download it? (8) should you not have added your conclusions re the HD video highlighting the flaws/lags if any, as it is clear that most of us find you more objective/thorough? (9) what in your opinion would cause this level of HD video problem to this UK User/Purchaser and is it common amongst Samsung/Nokia models? (10) Is there any external application which would cure/eliminate these errors? Re the stills of the camera (11) are there different recording formats/sizes and filters that can be applied and where (within the hardware/website re software) can one find them? (12) Can the size of the images (pics) of both stills & video be increased via the CD supplied software with this handset or, would an external application need to be used? (13) which is best & where can one find it please? (14) how hot (temp) does this handset get after prolonged use? I’m thinking of those who may want to use it via wrist strap/cradle. (15) is there a link on how to update (without unlocking, more important)/unlock this handset to install external beneficial, useful applications for newbie’s? (16) have you taken the Samsung i8910HD apart & can you post pics of the inners? (17) is there any way to increase/change the internal memory asyou have been critical of this?

    I feel that like nay others the Stills & HD video capability would be uppermost in addition to call, txt, email, web when purchasing a mobilephone handset.

    Once again thank you for your technology knowledge input & invaluable & informative report!!!

    Jon Daniker

    November 7, 2009 at 12:44 am

    • Thanks for the kind words, Jon! I’ll try to answer your questions as best and concisely as I can.

      1. S60 is the UI overlay for the mobile OS Symbian (as opposed to Windows Mobile or Android on other devices). Most high-end Nokia devices are running S60 as is the i8910. It’s remaining relevance is that S60 was once the best and easiest to use on a mobile device some years ago, but has drastically fallen behind since the likes of the iPhone appeared.

      2+3. The 720p video recording is not to be compared to standalone HD recording devices, particularly since there is currently no other mobile device that records in such a high resolution. That said, often the results can come out similar to what that owner has described, depending on the conditions, of course. The only thing I have not seen that he described is a blurriness. The HD recording has always been on par with any other mobile video recording in this regard.

      4. Purchasing in Italy would have made no difference for the HD recording.

      5. There are different versions for different regions, but they are all the same hardware. The only variations that exist are 8 vs 16gb and which language packs come preinstalled for different regions.

      6. The only discrepancy you should look into is whether or not you can purchase the phone with a warranty in your country. If you can, do it, otherwise, it doesn’t matter. It’s all the same phone one way or another.

      7. I can’t say which firmware is best since many of the new ones from different regions (and custom ROM’s from some enthusiasts) all have different features removed or added. Personally, I’m running the Chinese II1 firmware since it has the best browser build and has features removed that I don’t use too often (Communities and DLNA). You can get all the information you need for downloading and flashing firmware from this forum: http://forums.samsungi8910omnia.com/samsung-i8910-omnia-hd-firmware-discussion/

      8. If I’m reading this question correctly, I would’ve added my thoughts about this if it weren’t for how much it would’ve added to an already lengthy review. I did go over it in the Qik Q+A that followed the review, but I don’t consider that to be a complete and thorough overview of the features like this review was for everything else. As I said before, you have to keep the 720p video recording in perspective as it is the first mobile device to support this resolution and it’s almost guaranteed not to be perfect. I have personally found the results to be above acceptable though.

      9. This issue appears to be common among owners of this device, but it’s also a matter of expectations. Nokia devices typically have better quality video recording, but none of their offerings currently available support video recording above VGA.

      10. Thus far, I have not found any “fix” for the video recording, but I also don’t see it as a problem. Recording in D1 is still preferred over 720p for the higher framerate and 720p isn’t all that bad when I do use it, IMO.

      11. There are tons of settings for taking stills, all that can be found in the camera app itself, but images can only be captured as jpegs of varying sizes from 8mp down.

      12. I don’t know why you’d want to increase the size of the images of videos captured, but no the included software doesn’t provide anything like this. As I said, I don’t know what this would accomplish either other than just pixelating your media.

      13. I suppose if you really want to get into messing around with photos and videos, you can take a look into Adobe’s suite of desktop apps. I’ve been using Photoshop CS4 to do any photo editing. I may not be understanding these last few questions correctly though.

      14. I haven’t presses a thermometer to it, but the device can get warm when using it heavily, such as video recording or tethering for long periods of time. The phone never gets warm enough to pose a problem though, such as burning your skin or melting accessories.

      15. You can check the hacking section of the same forum I linked to above to find tons of resources for opening the i8910’s application compatibility.

      16. No and no. I’ve learned not to open phones with touch screens.

      17. Yes, you can install various firmwares (custom or not) that have different amounts of the C drive being taken up. With my current install of the II1 firmware, I have consistently kept over 20mb of memory free at any given time after all types of normal usage. I have also been running this firmware for well over a month now without needing or wanting to flash to anything else.

      As a quick followup, I am still overall very satisfied with the i8910 and the fact that I’m still using it is a testament to how impressed I am with it. I still strongly believe it is the best option for me of everything that has come out and will come out in 2009.

      That said, my next phone will most likely not be an S60 device. 5th Edition has not proved itself to be a fair competitor to Android, the iPhone, or the new versions of Windows Mobile. I am going to keep my i8910 to see what, if any, updates are made available as S60 is transformed into the Symbian Foundation, but I am pretty certain my next phone will be an Android device.

      I hope that answers you questions and please, feel free to ask more if you have any.

      Jonathan Bruha

      November 7, 2009 at 1:53 am

  19. PS: Re Stefan’s quote ‘I can download any photo, audio, film ever made’ (ad lib) I have to say not true as I cannot find many films I watched in the 70’s and if available are only via DVD’s (USA, Europe) without the English dubbing that I viewed them as. Much of the current findings via Research has not (cost implications/our inability to see/apply) been implemented in Technology whilst most is lost within the Past and yes much we should be thankful for what we have!

    Jon Daniker

    November 7, 2009 at 12:49 am

  20. Nice review. Just picked one up and found your info quite informative.

    Thanks!

    Jamaalism

    December 12, 2009 at 6:23 pm

  21. Thanks for the exhaustive review of the phone. I have bought this phone in India and its been a good 2 weeks. I have installed some apps which i wanted. Just some minor irks such as no app store by Samsung still, firmware updation is slow but overall i’m happy with my purchase and quite like the refreshing change from Nokia. Btw is there any update to you using this phone till date?

    kiran

    February 13, 2010 at 2:42 am


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