Can’t Samsung Re-Launch the i8910 Omnia HD?

Samsung i8910
Bright Future?

The Samsung i8910 was announced at the Mobile Wold Congress 2009 and officially launched around the world some time in May 2009. At the time it was announced, it was not short of innovation. Being the first mobile phone to boast a 3.7″ AMOLED display, first Symbian phone with a capacitive screen, first mobile phone to support OpenGL ES 2.0 and the first mobile phone with HD video recording. Add to that an ARM Cortex-A8 600 MHz processor with a Hardware Graphics Accelerator, 256MB RAM, an 8 Mega pixel camera and a compass just to mention a few of the highlights. Some of these features are the same as, if not better than the features seen in mobile phones that have been launched lately. The Sony Ericsson Kurara for instance, set to be launched some time this year has a 3.5″ LED display, S60 v5 and pretty much about the same features as the i8910. According to an early leak(Russian), the Kurara offers nothing that hasn’t been seen before on the i8910.

Sony Erricson Kurara, offering nothing new

The Omina HD has had at least a 6 month head start against this device. It has the upper hand, or does it?

Samsung Mobile Innovator was launched in late 2008 as:

“a new program enabling mobile software developers to create applications for use across all Samsung S60 devices for the first time.”

It was launched just in time for the arrival of the i8910. To date, there are only 12 applications available for download for the i8910 at the website, more than a year on. This has been attributed to poor sales and lack of developer interest as a result. Despite that, Samsung went on to unveil the Samsung i8910 Omnia HD Gold Edition, a moved that puzzled many. Interestingly, in the Gold Edition launch article, GSM Arena called the phone an

“extremely popular… multi-media monster”

The price of the phone has gone down significantly since its launch. In some regions, such as my own, you can get the device for about half the initial price. From a consumers’ point of view, that’s very appealing. It’s features are comparable to newer models that are on the market now, making the i8910 an easily relevant smart phone.

3.7″ AMOLED display – similar to the Google Nexus One(January 2010)

ARM Cortex A8 600MHz processor – similar to the Motorola Milestone(Droid)(November 2009)

8.1 Mega-pixel Camera with HD video recording capability- similar to the rumored Sony Ericsson Kurara(to be announced)

Its ground breaking features are the driving force behind its longevity. The technology though may be inferior to the current crop of devices, as shown in my previous article on the displays, and other areas. The i8910 is an example of risk taking and pushing technology to the limits. To date, it’s the only smart phone with HD video recording capability. The HD recording feature may not be perfect, probably because it was ahead of its time, but it’s there, taking full advantage of the phone’s hardware. The phone may fall short in the applications arena, but the HD video recording and playback make use of most of its power, to the extent of almost failing with HD video recording.

So, clearly the phone has some firm footing, but if Samsung is to re-launch it, what would they need to do? Put Symbian^X? Not necessarily I think.

Symbian 4 not happening
Symbian^4 not happening for the i8910

Some of the UI elements of Symbian^4 have just been detailed and I have to say, I’m not really impressed. Skimming through the document, I noticed they don’t really mention much that’s new. An extract from the document released says:

User interface design solutions that exist for other operating systems are similar in the following respects:

–       HTC Hero and Motorola Droid, both on Android, have a Homescreen with movable Homescreen widgets; however, each has one multi-panel homesceen page, whereas Symbian Foundation has independent unique pages

–       Palm Pre’s WebOS eliminates Exit commands, but instead of saving state and releasing memory it keeps applications running

–       iPhone has a flattened application library; however, it is displayed to the user exclusively as a manually organized grid, whereas the Symbian Foundation application library is an alpha-ordered list with multiple filtered views.

Right… not as revolutionary as I would have liked. I was expecting something more daring, adventurous and funky like the new Symbian Foundation theme. I was expecting to be blown away with something like this..

Symbian^4 as I imagined it

But that’s just me. In my opinion, Touch Wiz running on the i8910 with Symbian^1 works ok for now.

Of the issues in the report, Samsung has only managed to address about 27% of the problems and features suggested. The ~73% percent or so of the issues and features that are not being addressed are enough for a product relaunch. I mean killer features like a torch, threaded SMS, video editor, fm transmitter, VoIP, multi-touch etc. are enough to make a whole new product. Instead of launching a whole new product, they can just re-launch it. In my meeting with Chris, he mentioned that the i8910 missed out on a lot of these features because they were either not yet popular or they were not yet developed. The device is capable of supporting the features, it’s not the technology that’s the problem. The problem is resources for carrying out such a project.

It is not unheard of that users have had to pay for new updates. The iPod Touch is one such example. Apple charges for new updates for the iPod Touch because they introduce

“significant enhancements to a device that has already been launched.”

Adding 30 or so new features, fixes and enhancements is a mammoth task. iPod Touch users paid $10 for about 20 new features in the 2.0 update and another $10 for the 3.0 update. Apple unveiled new iPods/iPhones to coincide with these releases. Samsung could potentially use that same approach when launching the i8910 Gold Edition. People who already have the device can pay a small fee, and the new devices can come with the new features on board.

Unfortunately, that’s probably not going to happen. New devices are going to come out and leave older devices like the i8910 behind eventually, that’s the way it’s always been.

12 thoughts on “Can’t Samsung Re-Launch the i8910 Omnia HD?”

  1. i feel this is not the problem with samsung but rather symbian.if they do not provide user upgradable os,like android,i fear they will be left behind.this is not 2008 anymore,no one will buy a new mobile just for a new OS(i didnt want to buy a new desktop so i stayed with winXP)lets hope symbian does not do that mistake.

  2. Symbian is a big failure! My i8910 will be the last phone running Symbian – EVER!

    Head of Symbian: “Ok – we need to re-invent ourselves. We have to make Symbian the most used OS for phones. We want people to buy phones, just because it comes with Symbian. So what do we do?”

    Developer: “Lets try to evolve around the old Symbian, so we don’t waste all-ready-spent time. History tells us that it is very good to develop on basis of something old and familiar. Lets not start all over with something brand new! No, users don’t want that! They just like plain old symbian. Lets stick to it and see if we can make something interesting out of it. Users will learn to ignore the old faults of the system … We can throw in a couple of demos of soon-to-come-apps. That will do it!”

  3. Anphase,

    I agree with your pov on this one. That being said, i think it’s high time the egg heads grab a hold of this phone and start looking at ways of loading newer/better firmware on it. Perhaps even something other than symbian (if thats at all possible).

    I was an early adopter of the iMate Ultimate 9502 and was left in the cold on that one as well.

    History has shown that a platform cannot survive without dev support, no matter how good it is.

    I like my i8910 and i hope it gets the updates it deserves. But what do we look forward to after? I’m guessing this will be the only update it gets. Maybe we’ll be lucky and get ^2 or ^3, but perhaps only from the community.


  4. About the apps available on
    I know that we can’t download them via pc since Kies does not support Symbian. And even thru the phone, if you go to download apps you will find the same old apps that have been there for ever. Only the Italians themselves can acess those thru their phones. So how can we get those apps ?

  5. Seems like if you say anything against Samsung, this blog starter bans username (and email user’s) next post. This is censorship! I say i8910omnia blog is the right place, this guy is already bought by the suite and tie (bureaucratic responses over powered this guy’s spirit… lol)

    1. Really? I haven’t banned anyone. There’s an automatic system though that blocks spam even before I see it. Maybe your posts were mistaken for spam? This blog is independent of Samsung and I respect everyone’s opinion. If you read through them you’ll notice that all kinds of comments have been put up, for and against Samsung. They are more likely to want to block this entire blog if they had their way 😛

  6. I can understand what the fuss was all about when this phone was just released, but now it’s halfway obsolete. For one thing, it’s huge and heavy to carry it around in your pocket.

    Save your time and energy Anphase. No company deserves your effort. By the time they get around to releasing the next patch, which I highly doubt, this phone will already be obsolete. Every year there are better phones coming out. The i8910’s time is just about up.

  7. This phone is halfway obsolete?
    By what standards??
    You are insane to think that.
    The i8910 is one of the best designed products ever released in the history of consumer electronics.
    It’s the SOFTWARE that is the problem, not the hardware.

    A re-launch would be awesome, but it will never happen.
    Companies like Samsung and Nokia do not operate like Apple does.

    Apple has ONE family of devices, a development team in ONE location, and they have the proper resources to focus and achieve goals like they have in the past; this is why the iPhone iTouch and even the iPad have come out with such great software.

    Samsung has TONS of mobile devices, development teams all over the world that don’t (and probably can’t) communicate with each other! This is the reason why some regions got NO firmware updates at all. They don’t have the resources to make the i8910 into an iPhone worthy competitor, especially with Symbian.

    Other companies like HTC and Motorola have learned to work with Google and are actually able to have focus and good communication among their developers. You can see this right away when you pick up a droid (milestone) or nexus one. The software is not buggy, there are no scroll bar errors or UI quirks. Everything is mostly as it should be software wise to provide a good user experience and keep frustration at a minimum.

    Samsung decided to go their own way and said F-you to Symbian and made their own os, BADA. This is their way of being able to communicate and create a foundation that all of their developers can rely on — something that Symbian just could not provide them; hence why the i8910 came out the way that it did.

  8. Not huge and heavy for me at all. Even 4″ TS smartphone wouldn’t be. It’s not obsolete HW wise and is still one of the strongest smartphones out there, w/e OS flavor and company you pick. It’s the lack of proper support what makes it weak, but we shall wait for a bit and see how Samsung responds.

    So Kurara, X6 and lots of other phones should never come to be produced at all seeing your opinion i8910 is already old and not worthy (of what)? I’m glad others tend to make similar phones and then try to sell them for higher price then i8910 – that could boost i8910 sales and also make Samsung further support our phone.

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