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Samsung Focus 2
May 25th, 2012Samsung aims Focus 2 at budget Windows Phone market
Windows Phone fans currently face a limited selection of new devices, however a few companies, including Samsung, continue to release new offerings powered by Microsoft's mobile OS. Electronista checked out Samsung's Focus 2 earlier this month at CTIA's spring conference for a quick hands-on preview, however our full review takes a closer look at the latest budget-priced Windows Phone offering to arrive at AT&T.
Windows Phone fans currently face a limited selection of new devices, however a few companies, including Samsung, continue to release new offerings powered by Microsoft\'s mobile OS. Electronista checked out Samsung\'s Focus 2 earlier this month at CTIA\'s spring conference for a quick hands-on preview, however our full review takes a closer look at the latest budget-priced Windows Phone offering to arrive at AT&T.
The Focus 2 features the same general form and size as the first-generation model, which represented one of the first Windows Phones to arrive on the market. The Focus 2 diverges from the black color scheme in favor of glossy white plastic with chrome accents. Many potential buyers may find the white housing to be refreshing and attractive.
Build quality is impressive for a budget phone, though we did not expect less from Samsung\'s engineers. The device is light without feeling cheap, and keeps the easily pocketable form without sacrificing display size.
We liked the original Focus\' 4.0-inch Super AMOLED display, which was carried over to the Focus 2. The Windows Phone interface is a perfect match for AMOLED technology, enabling the vibrant color tiles to be offset from the deep black background.
We found the Focus 2 display to be decent, though Nokia\'s Lumia 900 offers improved brightness and sunlight readability. We also prefer Super AMOLED Plus technology, which eliminates the fuzzy appearance of PenTile pixels when reading small text. The Focus S integrates a 4.3-inch \"Plus\" display, albeit with a higher price tag.
Unfortunately the display resolution is limited to 480x800, reaching the top end of Microsoft\'s Windows Phone allowable specs. This is a common setback for any current Windows Phone handset, until Microsoft loosens its restrictions.
The Focus 2 integrates a single-core Qualcomm processor clocked at 1.4GHz. The single-core chip is clearly slower than dual- and quad-core variants that power many high-end Android devices, though the gap is only blatantly perceivable when running certain third-party apps or navigating to a complex website.
While we do not agree with all of Microsoft\'s hardware limitations, or the pace at which the mobile OS has continued to develop, most older and newer Windows Phone devices provide a consistent experience that can be better than many low- or mid-range Android phones. Hardware makers cannot add interface overlays to inadvertently slow the system down, and app developers do not have to debug for hundreds of different hardware configurations. That said, the 1.4GHz processor is sufficient to perform all of the common smartphone tasks.
The Focus 2 is not the thinnest smartphone, even among other Windows Phones, measuring 0.43-inches thick. Our experience with LTE networks has quelled our thirst for thinness, however, leaving us hoping that slightly thicker models use the extra volume to pack a larger battery. Samsung delivers in this department, packing a 1,750mAh removable battery into the Focus housing.
We were unable to deplete the battery into the danger-zone after an entire day of heavy usage, which left us with enough charge to get through to the next day. For users who spend a lot of time on their smartphone, but want to get through a whole second day if they happen to miss an overnight charge session, the Focus 2 may be one of the best options.
Users can shoot video or stills from the rear-facing 5.0-megapixel sensor, while a VGA camera adorns the facade for video chat. A dedicated camera button has been placed along the bottom-right edge of the chrome edging.
The camera utility and two-stage button are standard among all Windows Phones, so we were not surprised to find the shooting experience to be similar. Autofocus and shutter operation is quicker than most Android phones that we\'ve tried.
After reviewing some of the pictures taken with the Focus 2\'s camera, we were disappointed by the washed-out appearance in bright conditions and improper white balance in other environments. The shots are not the worst we\'ve seen from a smartphone, but definitely not as great as the Lumia 900, other high-end Android phones, or the iPhone 4 and 4S.
After using the Focus 2 as a \"daily driver,\" we found the device to be yet another well-refined Samsung smartphone. For the style-conscious, the white housing and chrome accents make the device one of the most aesthetically unique Windows Phones that we\'ve tried out.
As a whole, the overall specs and features appear to represent a great value at $50 when paired with a two-year AT&T contract. We don\'t think everyone should pay $250-$300 for a 4G-capable smartphone, but our recent experience with Nokia\'s Lumia 900 leaves us encouraging the modest jump to the $100 price bracket.
- Large battery
- Attractive color scheme
- Quality construction
- AMOLED display
- Mediocre camera
- Relatively small display
- PenTile pixels