First Look: A trio of Windows Phone 7 units from AT&T

The sleek and slender Samsung Focus comes out way ahead.

After attending Microsoft's announcement of its new Windows Phone 7 OS and looking at the three new AT&T phones it had on display, I'm putting my money on the Samsung Focus as the hottest new Windows Phone 7 smartphone of the group.

Samsung Focus

It's obvious why AT&T chose the Focus (which will hit the market on November 8) as the first of the three WP7 phones it will sell. The Focus is slender (0.3-in. thick), curved, and lightweight (3.88 oz.), and it felt good in my hands.

What's more, the 4-in. WVGA Super AMOLED touch screen was clearly brighter than the two other AT&T phones Microsoft had on display: the HTC Surround and the LG Quantum . (A Microsoft representative said Samsung should have plenty of the displays in stock to keep the phones on the shelves, despite a display supply problem that developed in mid-year.)

The Focus is equipped with a 1GHz Snapdragon processor from Qualcom, which meant I was able to swipe efficiently through various screens on the Focus and open "tiles" (configurable interface elements) quickly. The Focus comes with 8GB onboard storage , but can handle a microSD card of up to 32GB. The Surround and Quantum each come with 16GB onboard storage, but have no expansion slot.

I didn't get to hold an untethered LG Quantum; as a result, I couldn't judge its weight and overall feel very well. However, it came off as almost klunky, as it took too much effort to open and close the slide-out keyboard. The keys themselves seemed too stiff, clicking when I typed. Given those limitations, you have to wonder if the unit would be able to handle fast texting.

The HTC Surround felt heavy, boxy and inelegant. However, it did have some interesting features -- for example, it opens slightly to expose audio speakers, which shows it clearly to be a multimedia-focused phone. It includes a kickstand on the rear to prop it up for easy video viewing.

All three phones will include the access to Microsoft Office applications that workers need, including powerful uses for PowerPoint, and should still be fast enough and bright enough for gamers. Wireless, real-time player connectivity to Xbox Live is not yet available, but will be, and Microsoft has promised that plenty of games will ship with the device. WP7 phones also connect to Bing and Zune, among other services.

The Samsung Focus, LG Quantum and HTC Surround will each cost $199.99 with a two-year contract.

Bottom line: If you want that crossover device to move from work tasks to personal tasks, the Samsung Focus seems at first glance to be the best of AT&T's WP7 offerings.

Read more about mobile and wireless in Computerworld's Mobile and Wireless Topic Center.

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Matt Hamblen

Computerworld (US)
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