Samsung Focus S Review – Hardware

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The Samsung Focus was a singular type of phone.  With a simple design it was durable and it was beautiful in its simplicity.  The phone knew it wasn’t the main attraction; the OS was.  While some panned the phone and many other Samsung phones for feeling cheap and chintzy, I think this was the Focus’s greatest strength.  It had a beautiful Amoled screen that made the simply hues of Windows Phone pop.  It could be dropped and the pieces would fly apart dispersing the impact and barely leaving a mark on the phone.

At the same time you can tell that HTC would love to put their hyperactive Sense on Windows phones, and often their hardware sometimes feels like the main event.  Samsung has seemed to take a much more minimalist effect letting the OS and the medium through which you experience it—the screen—to talk for itself.

Since I am a dedicated Samsung Focus owner, it was very important to me that its namesake keeps the spirit of the original.  I have to say that I am happy on that account.  For those that thought the build quality was lacking on the original Focus, the Focus S makes many advances in that regard.  The original Focus, perhaps out of pride, didn’t surrender entirely to its understated look.  Chrome framed the sides and buttons of the Focus which gave it a slightly garish feel.  The Focus S gets rid of the chrome on the sides and on the buttons giving the phone a cleaner feel.

Read more after the break…

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What’s impressive about the phone is the thinness.  While the original Focus was .39 inches, the Focus S is .33 inches.  While on the surface that doesn’t seem like that big of a difference, in the hand it is huge. While the Focus always felt thin, this phone feels like it is flat.  For a larger hand like mine, the combination of the 4.3’’ screen and the thinness of the device feels perfect in my hand.  In the pocket, I have forgotten that the phone was even there.  Not only is it thin it is also slightly lighter than the already featherweight Focus.  These two things combined makes the phone almost seem like it could float away.

The Samsung Focus S has a matte textured background that is exactly the opposite of the smooth glossy back of the original Focus.  That change is in every way a drastic improvement.  If I had any major problem with the original Focus it is with the back cover.  It was glossy and looked great when you first took it out of the package.  After a year my cover looks like it has been through a war.  And the attachment points are also made of a brittle plastic and some of them broke off during the year.  I just bought a replacement back because of the problem.  The Focus S has an ingenious way of dealing with this problem.  The plastic back is actually a very thin piece of flexible plastic that snaps into place.  It feels like it will stand the test of time but time will tell.

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The Super Amoled Plus screen on the Samsung Focus S is a worthy follow up to the Super Amoled screen on the Focus.  With my poor vision I really can’t tell a difference between the two screens.  But that is not a negative being as the Focus’s screen is so excellent.  Outside it has slightly more visibility in bright sunlight and it is slightly brighter.  The Focus S has a OEM setting that turns down the intensity of white backgrounds so that does need to be disabled to get a proper brightness reading.  But if I was to find a negative with the screen it is that Windows Phone would benefit from a higher resolution display.  Especially when using the web browser zoomed out it is obvious that a qHD screen or a HD display would greatly improve the experience.  But elsewhere in the OS there is little imminent need for a higher resolution display.

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Update:  Because people are asking this device without a doubt has a Gorilla Glass screen.  No one has confirmed it, but since the Galaxy S II has it (this being modeled closely after that phone) and being that almost all recent Samsung devices have had a Gorilla Glass screen I think this is a lock.  And the screen feels exactly the same to the touch as the Focus’s screen.

NEXT TIME: Software and Camera

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