Messaging and e-mail on the Omnia II remains largely unchanged from the original Omnia. The smartphone continues to offer support for Microsoft's Direct Push Technology for real-time e-mail delivery and automatic synchronization with your Outlook calendar, tasks, and contacts via Exchange Server. Once Exchange 2010 arrives, Windows Mobile 6.5 will support conversation view for e-mails, unified messaging, free/busy calendar lookup, and more. However, you'll notice that the Outlook in-box looks different than the standard Windows Mobile one, as Samsung has added its own skin to give the phone a uniform feel throughout.
In addition to corporate e-mail, you can configure the smartphone to get your POP3 and IMAP accounts as well, and Verizon offers its own Mobile Email solution to access such accounts. The smartphone also provides instant messaging clients for Windows Live, Yahoo, and AIM.
As a phone, the Omnia II offers a speakerphone, conference calling, speed dial, voice dialing and commands, and text and multimedia messaging. The smartphone also supports Visual Voice Mail and VZ Navigator for real-time navigation using the phone's built-in GPS. Be aware that both services require additional fees. The address book is limited only by the available memory, and each contact can hold multiple numbers, addresses, birthdays, notes, and more. For caller ID purposes, you can pair an entry with a picture, a group ID, or a custom ringtone. Bluetooth 2.0 is onboard for use with mono and stereo Bluetooth headsets as well as hands-free kits, object push for vCard, file transfer, basic printing, basic imaging, phonebook access profiles, and dial-up networking. The latter requires a Verizon Mobile Broadband Connect plan.
The Omnia II is 3G capable, running on Verizon's EV-DO Rev. A network, and has integrated Wi-Fi. While you could use Internet Explorer Mobile for your browsing needs, we'd recommend going with the Opera Mobile 9.5 browser that's also preloaded on the smartphone. Not only does Opera provide tabbed browsing and easier page navigation, Samsung has also added a handy zooming feature where you can do a long-press on a page and then slide up to zoom in or down to zoom out (you'll see up and down arrows appear onscreen).
While browsing on the Omnia II is enjoyable (more on this in the Performance section), the Samsung Omnia II really shines in the multimedia department, more so than a lot of Verizon's other smartphones. First off, the media player offers support for various formats including DivX video playback and includes the basic player functions as well as DNSe and SRS audio effects, playlist creation, and various shuffle/repeat modes. An attractive Cover Flow-like interface allows you to advance through your multimedia files by swiping through album art, video stills, and photos. In addition, to the built-in media players, the smartphone also has an FM radio (you must use the included headset for this feature), a streaming player, and support for V Cast Music and V Cast Videos.
The Omnia II also features a 5-megapixel camera with flash, digital zoom, and video recording capabilities. The camera's interface is mirrored after those of Samsung's digital cameras, so if you happen to own one, it should look familiar to you. There are plenty of camera options, including auto focus, shooting modes, white balance, ISO, antishake, and various image sizes. For video, you can record in normal mode or slow or MMS mode. There's even an onboard video editor so you can add music, text, and so forth to your recorded clips right from the phone.
Once done, you can share your photos and videos with others via MMS or e-mail. Samsung also includes a Communities app in which you can access popular social networking sites, such as Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, and Photobucket, from one spot and upload your media to those sites. Also cool is the Digital Frame app that will rotate through your saved photos while displaying the date and time and phone status. In addition, the Omnia II has TV-out capabilities. Storage should be no problem as the Omnia II has 8GB internal user memory as well as a microSD expansion slot that can accept up to 16GB cards.
The Omnia II's picture quality was decent. Even in darker environments, the Omnia II's camera was able to capture fairly sharp photos with good color. However, even with the antishake feature on, we had some slight problems with blurry images. Recorded video was impressive with very little graininess.
We tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1,900MHz; EV-DO Rev. A) Samsung Omnia II in New York using Verizon service and call quality was good. Audio was loud and mostly clear on our end but occasionally, voices could sound a bit garbled, making us ask our callers to repeat themselves. Still, we were able to carry on numerous conversations without major problems and didn't experience any dropped calls during our test period. Meanwhile, friends were impressed with the clarity of the call and only one caller mentioned hearing a slight echo on their side.
Speakerphone quality was also decent with plenty of volume and minimal background noise and voice distortion. We had no problems pairing the smartphone with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset or the Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Headphones. Our only complaint is during our call, we accidentally got to a main menu page and every time our cheek would brush against the display we would feel the haptic feedback of the screen. According to Samsung, the smartphone does have a proximity sensor that automatically locks the display during calls, so we are working with the company to determine what happened in our situation.
The Omnia II is powered by an 800MHz Samsung S3C6410 processor and, in general, the smartphone was responsive. The accelerometer was quick to change screen orientation, and for the most part, applications were quick to launch, though more processor-intensive apps took a few seconds to load and shut down. We had no major problems, such as system crashes, during our testing period.
Using the Opera browser, surfing the Web on the Omnia II was painless. Using Verizon's 3G network, CNET's full site loaded in an impressive 30 seconds, while CNN's and ESPN's mobile sites came up in 12 seconds and 7 seconds, respectively. Meanwhile, a 1.79MB song took 43 seconds to download over the network from V Cast Music. We listened to various types of music on the smartphone, from hip-hop to classical, and enjoyed rich-sounding songs through our Bose On-Ear Headphones each time. We also appreciate that the option to choose from various DNSe settings to match the genre of music (e.g., rock, jazz, concert hall, and so on.).
We downloaded a DivX movie trailer and transferred it to the Omnia II using ActiveSync. We were blown away at the clarity of the picture and smooth playback. YouTube launches in the Opera mobile browser, while videos play on the streaming player. Connection time varied as did video quality and there were a couple of times when the clips had to rebuffer.
Unfortunately, we couldn't test out full navigation capabilities of the Omnia II here in New York, more specifically how it does as automotive navigator. However, the smartphone was able to find our location on the map in less than a minute and was able to provide us with an accurate walking route from the Upper West Side to CNET's Midtown offices.
The Samsung Omnia II features a 1500mAh lithium ion battery with a rated talk time of 10 hours and up to 17.9 days of standby time. In our battery drain tests, the smartphone provided 6 hours of continuous talk time on a single charge. According to FCC radiation tests, the Omnia II has a digital SAR rating of 1.06 watts per kilogram and has a Hearing Aid Compatibility rating of M3.