Windows Mobile…..yuk yuk yuk…Samsung B7330 “roasting”

Last week I ordered up a Samsung Pro B7330 as I fancied the look of it and very foolishly had forgotten, or had conveniently chosen to forget, how truly appalling Windows Mobile is. I sort of thought that in the intervening period of non-WM ownership, about 18 months, things might have improved…a not unreasonable assumption bearing in mind how other platforms seem to have managed to make themselves far more useable over the same period, but oh no, it’s all still a bit gash.

First things first though, the device itself is lovely which was the main attraction for me. Super slim, not too heavy but with a very satisfying heft to it that makes it feel really solid. In line with my recent Samsung battery cover “issues”, it took me yonks to get the back cover off and at one point I thought I would break it trying to get the darn thing off. The screen is a decent size at 2.6 inches but the resolution, when you are used to more recent screen resolutions like on the iPhone and HTC Hero, was like something from 5 years ago. This unfortunately was not the only thing to give me that 2004 throwback feeling. My initial thoughts were….gorgeous form factor with a very useable keyboard, if only it were running Web OS or iPhone OS or Android, such a waste.

Now, after sticking in the o2 SIM things started to go awry very very quickly. This to me sums the whole thing up….in every recent device I have used, the mere act of inserting the SIM card pulls down all your settings for the internet, MMS and texts but not on this device. Nope, I had to request texts from o2 with the purported settings and when they arrived they were wrong…they had sent WAP settings which did not work. Good grief, I had to manually enter the APN and all that stuff under Connections and delete all the wrong guff that had been added by o2. C’mon, this is late 2009. This did not happen with the Samsung Galaxy (with the same SIM card) so I have to assume this is one of WM’s little foibles. Plus, there was none of that enter your Google details and it will set up your GMail, Contacts and Calendar etc.

Samsung have added their WizPro Home Screen interface, which is okay as it gives you the ability to move between different applications by using the d-pad but you can’t change the items in it and thus have to move through items that you may not actually ever use, which is annoying. If it was customisable it would be better. Once you select something from the WizPro menu you are flung unceremoniously back into the usual WM interface so Samsung have made no effort whatsoever to make things less WM like, which in my view is a pity. For example, there’s a CNN Mobile app stuck in there, Yahoo search button and a “social” menu that doesn’t even include Twitter which seems a bit pointless bearing in mind how popular it has become of late. In addition, the share price menu app couldn’t find half of the shares I wanted to follow so was rather limited in use too. So, there you have a very useable menu on the Home Screen spoiled by having half of the menu options as frankly not very useful and not being able to change it so you have to use the d-pad far too much to scroll past the stuff you might not ever use to find the items that were in fact genuinely useful. Great fun.

Next irritation was when I imported a whole load of photos via the Missing Sync for WM. On the Hero and Palm Pre, they arrive on the device as they were sent, ie in titled groups and they can be viewed as such in the native device photo viewing apps. On the Samsung, or rather under WM 6.5 (the latest version remember) you have to firstly update the photo application to find them and then they are all just lumped together with none of the categorisation they were sent with. How 2004 is that? I’ll bet that doesn’t happen on the HTC HD2.

I downloaded and installed some apps, some looked okay on the screen but the Twitter apps I tried out were poor, constantly crashing the device or the graphics were low rent. Some of the inbuilt apps were of an iffy quality too and were barely useable, with poor quality text and some of the stuff on there looked distinctly 2004. The Samsung is quick enough but with lots of free memory and hardly anything running there were still delays launching apps which would have been okay and expected 3 years ago but is less tolerable nowadays. I tell you, if this is still the standard of WM 6.5 and if this is the price to be paid for that supposed open-ness and tweakability of the platform then you can keep it as it’s a price not worth paying in my book. It’s not as if there aren’t other “open” platforms out there that are easier to use, quicker and just as stable. There just wasn’t nearly a big enough improvement in WM since my last experience to justify using it again, not at the moment anyway and especially when you consider how the likes of Android have come along and launched an open, lightweight and quick OS that is easy to set up out of the box and user-friendly.

To sum up then, a great device with a good keyboard, nice camera, really solid but lightweight, lovely form factor completely ruined by a mediocre OS that barely seems to have made any concessions to the ease of use mantra that is plenty evident elsewhere and which has become more important to consumers. Which is a great pity and Samsung need to make more of an effort, like HTC have done, to hide the living awfulness that is WM if they seriously want to still be a big player in this market using this platform. The device was so good itself that I almost felt like crying, it’s virtually my perfect form factor for a smartphone with all the hardware goodies you look for (barring odd lack of a 3.5mm headphone port) yet it was clear quickly it wouldn’t be for me. Had it been Android then it would have been an entirely different story….

The Good:

  • form factor
  • keyboard
  • camera good although lacks flash
  • thin
  • very solid feeling
  • there is still some great WM software out there
  • You can return it to eXpansys, no questions asked, within 10 days

The Very Bad:

  • need you ask?
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