Dec 052010

A new device that I’ve been extremely excited to do a review on is the new Samsung Focus. We’ve long awaited the new release of the next generation of Microsoft’s mobile operating system platform, Windows Phone 7.

In the past, I’ve been an almost religious user of Windows Mobile Device. First the simplistic yet powerful functionality, the capabilities, and main reason being Exchange Push (Outlook Mobile).

Rogers, had a limited web release earlier this month, and due to the condition of my previous cell phone, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to upgrade. I went ahead and purchased the device. 5 days later I got my hands on it.

First Impression:

When receiving the phone, I liked the way it was boxed, the material that came along with it, and the general style of the phone itself. Simplistic, and thankfully I didn’t get the “I’m missing something” feeling I get when I usually receive new toys.

After popping in the SIM card, battery and plugging it in to charge, the phone turned on.

The initial configuration was very easy and friendly. I activated the phone with my Windows Live account, and Facebook details. I don’t like using cell phone providers proxy’d internet, so I pay for the “VPN” option which provide me a real external IP address on the internet, configuring the apn “” was simple, and I didn’t have to go fishing through the menu’s.

First configuration:

As soon as the initial configuration was done, WOW. This phone is slick. The menu’s, tiles, and all usage of the phone pretty much glided as smooth as could be. I have NO complaints when it comes to general usage.

First things first, I went into the settings menu, and tried to configure pretty much every setting I could. I did this with absolutely no problems and had the device completely configured to my liking, even with absolutely no experience with the phone.

I actually configured so much, that buy the time I was done; I felt I became an expert with the phone usage. I immediately was comfortable with the phone.

Real Usage:

After I was done configuring the phone, I went ahead and started to play. The phone interface was a pleasure, the “People” interface was a pleasure, and pretty much every single little feature that this phone shipped with was a pleasure. It even added all my Facebook contacts to the phone’s phonebook (I wasn’t so hot about this, but disabled it later).

The camera is amazing. Both picture quality and video quality is AMAZING. Camera app allows you to upload directly to Facebook, even add a caption.

One thing that makes me a little upset is the lack of ability to upload videos to the internet from the phone. You have to sync with Zune, and then upload using computer.


First thing I wanted to do, was check out this “Marketplace” that everyone has been talking about. I’ve seen numerous other websites and reviews commenting on the applications that you can install, particularly the Facebook client, and Twitter client (I’m big on social media). I went ahead and installed both applications. After setting up my various accounts with them, they worked flawlessly. Both clients support ALL features of the two social media sites (except for Facebook places). The interfaces were easy to use, and I actually enjoyed using them on the phone!

One thing I’m choked about, is that Microsoft Marketplace doesn’t sell music to Canadians, we are stuck with applications, and video.


After a few hours of continuous use, I realized I was probably eating away at my data plan (I installed 20+ applications, a game, and numerous other stuff). I decided to give Wi-Fi a try on the phone. Turning it on and connecting to my secured AP was super simple and super quick to do. I also have to add that there was a visible performance increase in applications getting information off the web faster.

Data speeds:

Both, internet access via the cell network, and Wi-Fi were extremely fast. This is very important when using applications that continuously access, or rely on information from the internet. The experience was so nice, that I had no complaints or problems with loading time of large amounts of information which I would have guessed would have taken a lot longer on the device.

Business/E-Mail Configuration:

The first and only major issue I had with this device was configuration of my Microsoft Exchange account. Since the new Windows Phone 7 operating system doesn’t really have a user-accessible file system, and also doesn’t have the capability to play with files, I had to find a way to install the certificate for my Exchange server on my phone.

There are two ways this can be done, either a) setup a different type of e-mail account (gmail, Hotmail, etc…) and e-mail yourself the certificate and run it to install, or b) upload the certificate to a website, and then navigate to it using the browser on the phone.

I don’t have any other types of e-mail accounts, so I just uploaded the certificate to my site, typed it in on Internet Explorer on the phone, and confirmed I wanted to install it.

After this, I configured my exchange account, and the configuration went very smoothly. It downloaded the messages, and it was all done.


Overall, I love the device. I’ve been using it non-stop for the past 3 weeks and have no major complains. People have been complaining about the new way of using memory cards and their limitations, however with the amount of storage already shipping on the phone (I think 8GB); I don’t even really need a memory card.

The battery life is amazing on the device, and actually got better overtime. The general belief is to fully charge/fully discharge a cell phone to maintain the battery. In my opinion, I noticed batteries survive longer if you just charge it whenever you get the chance (whether once a day, or a few times every day). The battery with normal usage, and Exchange Push for e-mails I’ve noticed can last longer than 3 days, however I haven’t fully drained the battery yet. Without Exchange, and lighter usage, I can’t even guess how long it would last!

One thing I don’t like, is how light the device is, accompanied by the fact that the phone feels very plastic. I like heavy phones, the kind that have a metallic case, the kind that doesn’t feel like it’s going to slip out of your hand.

Another thing I would like to address is the complaints of the lack of multi-tasking and copy/paste. First off, this phone is so responsive that the lack of multi-tasking doesn’t really bug me. Applications load fast, information is always available, and even thought it would be nice to have multi-tasking, it’s not on my list of complaints. I can live without copy/paste, however it would be nice.

Overall, I’d buy this phone again if for some reason I lost or broke this one. I’d also recommend this phone to all my friends, INCLUDING clients. This is seriously the first phone I’ve owned that allows me to do both business, and social stuff!

Pros/Cons/Would be nice:


-Very fast interface

-Battery life AMAZING

-UI is very intuitive

-Amazing speeds (over cell network, or Wi-fi)

-Supports Microsoft Exchange push

-On-screen keyboard easy to use, accurate.

-Facebook/Twitter run great!

-Applications are actually decent!

-Web browsing works great!

-Youtube works great!


-If you type fast, chances are you’ll hit the “French” button on the on-screen keyboard, annoying

-Very light phone, plastic feeling

-Cannot upload videos to any type of site, must use your computer to sync, and then upload

-Skipping/Fast-forwarding support is horrible for music and video

Would be nice (please note these are NOT cons, and just exactly what they are, would be nice):

-File system access



  21 Responses to “Samsung Focus – SGH-i917R from Rogers – Review”

  1. FYI, you can get rid of that annoying French keyboard thing by going into Settings > Keyboard > Keyboard Languages and selecting only one language (English). Of course, if you need French as well you are kinda hooped =P

  2. Thanks bud. I’m surprised I missed that. It worked!

  3. Thanks for the tip! I turned that off right away!

  4. Thanks for the review. Just bought two Focus, one for me and one for my wife. However, we need tethering capability (a deal braker without). Samsung says they don’t support tethering with this phone. but apparently it can be done. Any advice on how? If so, is is simple to do?


  5. Hi Evan,

    Personally I haven’t done the tethering yet, but I did go into the menu to take a peak. Although it is fairly simple, you have to be careful you don’t much with anything (since the menu’s can make modifications to the phone, etc…).

    Keep in mind your taking your own risk by using this “unsupported feature”. If you break anything, it’s not my fault, lol.

    I believe these instructions should work.
    1. Dial ##634#
    2. When the diagnostics window opens, enter *#7284#
    3. Switch to “Modem, tethered call”, and wait for the phone to reset itself.
    4. Hook up to the computer, after a while it will detect a modem.
    5. Create a dial-up adapter and connect to *99#

    Keep in mind *99# connects you to on Rogers, this may be different on different providers. At the same time I haven’t tested this, so I’m just assuming *99# should work, you may have to google for the proper string, some carriers require/expect certain ones.

    Let me know how you make out!

  6. Thanks so much. I am not teck savy, but I like the phone and will try, probably after I get back from Calgary next Tues (visiting grandkids). Once set up, do you have to go through the same process every time you want to tether?

  7. I think you do, and even though I haven’t tried it, I think while tethered, you might not have any access to the Windows Phone 7 operating system.

  8. Again, many thanks. Would the lack of “built in” tethering apply to all Windows 7 smart phones? I understand all android 2.2 system phones allow “built in” tethering.

  9. No Problem!

    The lack of tethering is indeed linked to the operating system Windows Phone 7 itself.

    I think eventually Microsoft will allow tethering and probably release it with a firmware update.

  10. Thanks again. Would the lack of “build in” tethering apply to all Windows 7 smart phones? I understand that the android 1.1 system phones allow “built in tethering” Must baord my plane to Calgary now – will check inb later.

  11. Hi again Stephen – Regarding your steps to tether:

    4. Hook up to the computer, after a while it will detect a modem. — Do I hook up to theh computer with the same usb cable used for charging, or do I need a different data cable?

    5. Create a dial-up adapter and connect to *99# — What are the steps to do this?

    Thanks again

  12. Hi Evan,

    Yes, you use the cable that came with the phone. As for creating a dial-up adapter, go into the “Network and Sharing Center” on Windows 7. Create a new connection, follow the steps, choose modem, etc…

    Hope this helps.

  13. Wish I would have seen this revue before I ordered mine. After many conversations with Rogers reps I chose the Focus. I expected it to be independent, but the phone needs a PC for set-up and regularly for operations and updates/upgrades. It’s a kick-@$$ phone and I hope future downloads will make it even better.

  14. Hi to everyone .i need to download Arabic version ..can you understand me? and thank you

  15. Hey guyz im in malaysia i got i917r version marketplace doesn’t work here and need skype and facebook applications on myphone any way i can get also can’t send picture through bluetooth does this version have bluetooth again its samsung focus i917r thanks

  16. Hello.I am a student come from China .I have bought a SAMSUNG SGH-i917R.And there is a question puzzled me ,I had looked for help on the internet but got nothing .Would you help me that the diffrence between i917R and i17?

    Thank you!

  17. Hello Mutong,

    I believe that the R in the model number stands for “Rogers” which is a Canadian cell phone provider. Canada has the SGH-i917R, which the United States has the SGH-i917.

    I hope this helps you,

  18. Hey!! I was wondering if there was a way to change the language setting from English to Arabic? Is it possible? Thanks in advance!’

  19. Does anyone know how to unlock one of these phones? I was given one, but it is locked to Rogers and they will not help me unlock it as I do not have an account with them.

  20. How can one send music or pics via bluetooth on this device? I know I have to sync with my laptop but what it i want to recieve music from someone else or if i want to send a songs real quick to someone else? Bluetooooth!!

  21. How do I delete outlook from my Samsung sgh-i917 r cell phone.

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