Samsung Focus Unboxing and First Impressions Video
This part one of a two-part unboxing and first impressions video of the Samsung Focus, a new Windows Phone 7 device that I got from Rogers Wireless in Canada. The Focus has a four inch, Super AMOLED screen. It has a 1 Ghz processor, a paltry 8 GB of storage, a five megapixel camera with a flash, and 720p video capture. And, oh, it's one of the few Windows Phone 7 devices on the market that has an easily accessible microSD storage card slots. In fact, that was one of the main reasons I bought it - because 8 GB of storage isn't something I could live with on a phone that's going to replace my Zune HD.
In retrospect, I should have called part two "Fighting with the Samsung Focus and microSD cards". You can witness the disaster below.
The whole memory card issue is a bit of a mess; Samsung tell you to use Windows Phone 7 certified cards, but doesn't actually tell you what those cards are. I haven't seen any microSD card manufacturer announce WP7 Certified cards yet, so it's like Microsoft and Samsung are pointing a finger at each other and no one is quite sure what to do.
In further testing, a Class 4 SanDisk 8 GB card worked, but I was never able to get that Class 10 Kingston 16 GB card to work...so it's not a matter of using the fastest cards you can get your hands on as I thought. And given the problems I had getting this to work, I have serious doubts about what this means for the stability and security of the data on the card. Can you really have confidence in storing your data on something that no one is quite sure will work properly?
Oh, and I can't forget to mention that once a microSD card has been put into a Windows Phone 7 device, that card is effectively unusable in any other device, permanently. That 8 GB SanDisk card that I got to work in the Focus? If I put it into an SD card adaptor, I can't get it to even show up on my PC. I can't reformat it. The card won't show up as a drive in the Computer Management console. I tried putting the card into my digital camera, thinking a brute force reformat by the camera would rescue the card, but it didn't work. I've heard that some people were able to rescue these cards by putting them into a Nokia phone, but I can't confirm that. It's a mess.
The take away from all this is that I can understand now why Microsoft was so reluctant to embrace the microSD card slot on the Focus; they knew how problematic it would be for customers to get this working. Most people will pop in whatever microSD card they have laying around, and the results would be ugly.
So, what's the Focus like as a phone? Stay tuned for my review.
Jason Dunn owns and operates Thoughts Media Inc., a company dedicated to creating the best in online communities. He enjoys photography, mobile devices, blogging, digital media content creation/editing, and pretty much all technology. He lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada with his lovely wife, his wonderful son Logan, and his mostly obedient dog. He was kind of disappointed with his first Super AMOLED screen.
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Sandisk seems to be the brand with the highest rate of success
Mid range cards (5/6) seems to be the best ones
Finally about the issue of reuse the card you inserted in WP7: it is true that Nokia phones have an app that allows to "unlock" and format the SD cards; I do not remember where but there is a version of the app for the PC.
I am glad you were finally able to get a phone from Rogers. I have been using my Focus heavily since US launch day and I like it more today than I did then. I inserted a PNY Class 2 16Gb card in the phone when I first booted it. The phone did not see the card at the first boot, but it did when I booted it a second time.
The only odd issue I've had is when I first synced my music collection to the phone, when I reached the internal capacity of the phone, or 8Gb, the sync process slowed significantly for the remaining 1 gig of music I had. It did finish, but it took a long time. Since then, I've had no slow sync issues when the phone updates with my Zune Pass.
I've read a lot about this issue on tech blogs and it seems that users who tried the fastest SD cards are the one having problems. Microsoft's warning about the cards was about the lack of consistent quality in handling data. I agree that the issue needs a resolution of some type (a list of certified cards would be a start), but I also wonder just how many "real" users, meaning people who don't post on tech blogs, would even bother with an internal SD card?
BTW, if you use foam case for the Focus, be careful. I had a Body Glove model on the phone that was so tight that it kept turning the phone off whenever I pulled it from my pocket and brushed a finger against the power switch. I replaced that with a thin rigid case that has cut-outs for all the buttons.
The only odd issue I've had is when I first synced my music collection to the phone, when I reached the internal capacity of the phone, or 8Gb, the sync process slowed significantly for the remaining 1 gig of music I had...I've read a lot about this issue on tech blogs and it seems that users who tried the fastest SD cards are the one having problems.
Yeah, that's about what I'd expect from a Class 2 card - which is why, of course, all of us tech blogger types are trying to put in the fastest cards we can. Kingston had a 32 GB Class 6 card, but I opted for the smaller 16 GB card because it was faster (Class 10).
The whole thing is a mess, and has completely reversed my opinion on removable storage in Windows Phone 7; I wouldn't recommend any user add a microSD card to their device.
I seem to remember reading here (on WPT) or some other blog, that the reason MS really didn't want use-replaceable memory cards was because of the way memory was to be managed in WP7 (and beyond, I would guess). I remember the article mentioning that WP wants to manage ALL of the memory as a single unit, so it EXPECTS all of the memory it has, to be available all of the time.
This seems to be the case with the symptoms described -- needing to 'hard reset' after adding the new card; the card being formatted so as to be unusable in any other device.
My guess is that trying to find a card which matches the memory characteristics of the internal memory chip may be why some work and some don't. The O/S is trying to manage them all as one larger unit.