Samsung Focus S Lighting Review

Some people like normal-sized phones. Other people like giant-sized phones. The Focus S is Samsung's Windows Phone, for those other people.

What Is It?

It's a new 4.3-inch screen phone from Samsung that runs Windows Phone.

Who's it For?

People who like the look of Windows Phone, but don't want insane finger cramps due to a small screen.

Design

It's light and thin, and despite its plastic back. It feels like a Samsung Galaxy S phone, just running Windows. The Super AMOLED Plus screen offers very deep blacks and bright colors, though the 800 x 480 resolution is nothing to write home about.

Using It

It's running Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango). If you like WIndows Phone, you'll probably like it (unless you have Kyle Wagner's famously tiny hands) because there ain't a ton of differences between the devices running it.

The Best Part

Larger-handed people will dig the screen size for typing and watching videos.

Tragic Flaw

As with the Focus Flash, the touch screen isn't as accurate as it could be. When you're typing fast, there will be annoying errors. Also the Windows Phone app situation is still not amazing.

This Is Weird...

It has an 8MP rear camera and yet it can only shoot video up to 720p. When there are 5MP cameras that can shoot 1080p, that's a waste.

Test Notes

• The camera is quite good in bright light, but things tend to get noisy rather noisy when it's dimmer. Also, the autofocus struggles a lot so multiple attempts were frequently required to get the shot. View full-res sample photos/video here.
• It's definitely not as fast/smooth as the iPhone 4S or faster Android phones (Galaxy SII, Galaxy Nexus, Droid RAZR). It's about as fast as the Nokia Windows Phones, however, so part of that is the hardware limitations Microsoft's laid down.
• The screen is decent but it can't compare with the 720p displays you find on the Galaxy Nexus, HTC Rezound, or the iPhone 4(s)'s Retina Display.
• This is a criticism of Windows Phone, but the tiles mostly all look similar and generally have the same color scheme. While it makes everything look consistent, it also makes things harder to find because they blur together.

Should You Buy It?

I was underwhelmed by my time with the Focus S. It could definitely benefit some more RAM and more apps. It's a plenty capable Windows Phone and people who like Samsung's Super AMOLED Plus display but wanted a little more size will like it a lot. That said, wait until after we see what is announced at CES. We may get a look at the next evolution of Windows Phone which would either make you want to wait for something better or at least drive the price down on this.

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Samsung Focus S Specs

• Network: AT&T
• OS: Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango)
• CPU: 1.4 GHz Scorpion
• Screen: 4.3-inch 480 x 800 pixels Super AMOLED Plus
• RAM: 512MB
• Storage: 16/32GB
• Price: $200 w/ 2-year contract
• Giz Rank: 3 stars