The image above is the the Samsung SGH-i707, the device Microsoft is giving out to developers and tech reviewers to preview Windows Phone 7. According to Microsoft, this device will never be released to market. The Samsung SGH-i707 is more than just a hacked up i8910. It appears that the only thing similar between this device and Samsung i8910 is the shell. The devices look almost identical on the outside except for some small but significant differences.
From the image above, you can see that the back panel is exactly the same as on the i8910 – in fact is says “CI8910”! The design is the same, dual speakers on the top and lower ends of the device, proximity and light sensors on the top, covered head phone jack on the top end and a micro usb slot and micro SD card slot on either side. When they launch, Windows Phone 7 devices won’t support expandable memory. So for this device, the micro SD card is “glued” in to the phone – Microsoft says taking it out will mess it up. It also has a smaller screen, probably 3.5″ or less as opposed to the 3.7″ screen of the i8910.
Another thing to note is the 5 Mega Pixel camera. The Samsung i8910 has an 8 Mega Pixel camera. This could mean that they have a different sensor and camera system all together or they just have dumbed down settings.
According to Tera-WURFL, the device was released in December 2009. All this got me wondering – if there were so many different devices on the market and with so many partners, why did Microsoft go for the i8910? Surely they could have gone out and modified a device with Windows Mobile 6.5 like the HTC HD2 for instance or even the Samsung Omnia II.
That leads me to several conclusions. First, the only way to run Windows Phone 7 on the i8910 is to change not only the software component, but the hardware as well. Microsoft probably went with the i8910 because it’s now quite cheap, it has flexible hardware i.e it can easily support many different platforms and they only needed to replace the display at least and some writing around the camera and front buttons. Microsoft probably avoided existing Windows Mobile devices to avoid creating false hope or unnecessary pressure from the owners of those devices. The i8910 just isn’t very popular and it runs Symbian; it was an easy pick.