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Samsung Focus 2 (AT&T) review

Will Samsung mirror its Android success with its latest Windows Phone?

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Our Verdict

The Samsung Focus 2 is an excellent Windows Phone released at the worst possible time. Yes, the elephant in the room is that Windows Phone 8 is just around the corner, and like all devices running the Mango OS, the Focus 2 can't be upgraded.

For

  • Slick Windows Phone OS
  • Fast performance
  • Solid camera
  • Sharp screen
  • Great battery life

Against

  • AT&T 4G LTE can be hit or miss
  • Cheap plastic casing
  • Capped at 8GB storage
  • Poor audio on recorded video
  • Same price as Lumia 900

Windows Phone received a significant boost thanks to Nokia's Lumia 900, which brought Microsoft's upstart operating system to a more mainstream audience with a style and price that was difficult to resist. Now that the dust has cleared from the platform's flagship device, Samsung returns to Windows Phone offering a capable 4G LTE handset as an alternative for AT&T subscribers.

The Samsung Focus 2 (AT&T) takes its design cues from Samsung's other handsets like the Samsung Galaxy SIII, shrinking the rounded look to a relatively svelte case measuring 4.7 inches tall and 2.5 inches wide.

Samsung Focus 2

Samsung brought the Focus 2's weight down to a barely noticeable 4.3 ounces. For some reason, the handset still feels bulky in the hand despite its relatively light weight, measuring 0.5 inches deep.

It only comes in white, with a smooth plastic shell that is a perfect magnet for smudges, accented by a silver strip bordering the case. Some may have warmed to an overly plastic feel in their smartphones, but coupled with the Focus 2's perceived bulk, it feels somewhat cheap. That said the phone's actual construction is solid, but you can definitely tell when holding the Focus 2 that it isn't built to be a premium handset.

Samsung Focus 2

The Focus 2's 4-inch Super AMOLED display is bright and clear with excellent color contrast highlighted by the bright Live Tiles on Windows Phone. The 800 x 640 resolution isn't going to compete with the iPhone's retina display any time soon, but with above average pixel density (233 ppi) compared to other recent Windows Phones, the Focus 2 looks crisp without feeling cramped on the smaller screen.

Above the screen you'll find the VGA camera while directly under the screen are the three standard Windows Phone touch control buttons. We found them to be highly sensitive, activating accidentally when a thumb or hand brushes too close, particularly when using the camera. The buttons also light up when activated with a slight vibration at each press, the latter of which can be turned off in the phone's settings.

Along the phone's silver trip on the right side are the power and dedicated camera buttons, while the right side is home to a single elongated button for volume control.

The top meanwhile is home to a 3.5mm headphone jack and a micro-USB port rests on the bottom for charging and connecting to your PC.

On the Focus 2's back is a 5MP camera lens that sticks out slightly from the case, which is coupled with an outward microphone and flash. The back cover pops off to reveal the removable battery and a secure slot for your micro-SIM card. There's no expandable memory on the Focus 2 though, so you're stuck with the limited 8GB of memory.