Samsung Focus S: Slick Windows Phone -- for consumers only

The sleek smartphone's Windows Phone 7.5 'Mango' OS has real appeal, but it can't work in most businesses

Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango," Microsoft's answer to Apple's iOS and Google's Android, has attracted its own fanboys -- a marked improvement from the unhappy reception that last year's half-baked initial version received. Several smartphone makers are offering "Mango" devices, and of these the Samsung Focus S has the most appeal, thanks to its slim, sleek, simple design.

Unfortunately, as nice as the Focus S is, Windows Phone 7.5 can't be used in most businesses because it lacks security features such as support for essential Microsoft Exchange ActveSync (EAS) policies, on-device encryption, and VPN support. Its Office suite is also primitive, with bare-bones capabilities far exceeded by apps available for other mobile OSes.

[ See all of InfoWorld's mobile deathmatch comparisons and personalize the scores to your needs. | Discover what Microsoft has in store for tablets in its forthcoming Windows 8. | Compare the security and management capabilities of iOS, Windows Phone 7, Android, and more in InfoWorld's Mobile Management Deep Dive PDF report. ]

But as a personal-only messaging device, the Samsung Focus S bears consideration. It costs $600 without a contract and $200 with a two-year contract with AT&T.

Hardware
As thin and light as an iPhone but a tad wider and taller (0.25 inch in each direction), the Focus S makes room for a nice-size screen without taking up much more space in your pocket. Its screen is 4.3 inches in diameter versus the iPhone's 3.5 inches. It's the size an iPhone should be.

The Focus S screen is crisp, thanks to its Super AMOLED display. The screen is also not overly bright, so text doesn't get blown out as with the Android-based Samsung Galaxy Nexus. However, the Focus S autobrightness controls tend to cause image jitter in areas with variable lighting.

The Focus S sports a 1.4GHz ARM single-core processor -- a fast CPU -- and an 8-megapixel rear camera with autofocus and LED flash, though without the high-quality optics and image sensors of the iPhone 4S. The rest of the Focus S hardware is unremarkable: The bezel is plastic but pleasant to hold, and there are the usual volume rocker, audio jack, MicroUSB jack, camera button, front camera (1.3 megapixels), and Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and 3G cellular radios. Battery life is good, lasting a full workday with ongoing use of the Internet and lasting several days in standby mode. There's no video-out capability, so forget about using it to make presentations via an HDTV or projector as you can with iPhones and many Android smartphones.

Beyond the hardware, the Samsung Focus S offers no alterations to the Windows Phone 7.5 OS or its bundled apps, so you get the standard "Mango" experience.

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Test Center Scorecard
 
 20%20%15%20%15%10% 
Samsung Focus S756577

6.1

Fair

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