Samsung Focus 2 impressions: An elegant, affordable new Windows Phone

AT&T seems determined to make Windows Phone a success. It has launched more of Microsoft’s phones than any other wireless carrier and lately, they’re getting quite affordable. The Samsung Focus 2 is the fourth Focus phone to be released in the year and a half since Windows Phone came onto the scene, and it might be our favorite since the original. 

The first Samsung Focus is still a great Windows Phone and its sequels aren’t bad either, but neither the Focus Flash or Focus S really recaptured the magic of the original. Sometimes size does matter and by returning to its roots, the Samsung Focus 2 excels. Samsung has brought back the 4-inch screen and overall shape of the original Focus as well as its AMOLED screen, which helps the bright colors and dark blacks of Windows Phone pop. The nicely spaced haptic navigation buttons are also back. 

Though it’s not as thin and sexy as the new Galaxy S3, the Focus 2 merges the style of the original Focus with the new white and silver look of the S3, helping it look and feel like one of the best Windows Phones out there. 

Like all Windows Phone 7.5 devices, this runs on a single-core processor, added 4G LTE connectivity, a 480×800 pixel screen, and 512MB of RAM — basically, nobody will be buying this phone for its specs. But Windows Phone isn’t really about cutting edge processors (at least not currently), and the OS runs and looks just as good as it ever has on this new device. Later this fall, Microsoft will likely introduce Windows Phone 8, but until then, this is as good a Windows Phone as any. It’s also pretty cheap.

We got some heat from Nokia fans for comparing this phone to the Nokia Lumia 900, but with an AT&T release date of May 20 and a price point of $50, it could absolutely put up a fight against Nokia’s flagship. The Lumia 900 may look fancier and have a bigger screen, but it’s current retail price is $100 — $50 more than the Focus 2 will be. Nokia does have a lot of unique exclusive apps to its platform, which make it a very attractive buy, but on the inside, most Windows Phones are made equal. You’re not going to have any worse of an experience running the Focus 2, unless turn-by-turn navigation is your top priority. If you want that, you’ll have to get a Lumia or an Android phone. If you need the best camera, we’d recommend the HTC One X, HTC Titan II, or the iPhone 4S.

The Focus 2 doesn’t have any  magic special features or killer apps, but it’s a solid phone at an affordable price. If you’re considering Windows Phone, give it a look. Did I mention that it has 4G LTE? Don’t get a phone without it.

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