The Focus Flash feels surprisingly nice in the hand. Though most of the body is plastic, it has a pleasant heft and there's a large swath of brushed, dark gray metal across the rear that actually makes it feel like more of a premium device than its more expensive sibling. While it's not the thinnest phone on the block, it's certainly not a heffer at 0.41 inches thick. The rounded trapezoid profile also feels quite natural to grip, providing just enough slope to cradle effortlessly in your palm. Just above that pleasant expanse of actual metal is the five megapixel camera and LED flash (more on that later) and the speaker phone which is serviceable, but hardly impressive.
All four sides of the device are interrupted with some form of port or button. Along the top edge is the 3.5mm headphone jack, while the bottom is home to the all-important microUSB plug -- you know for charging and syncing and stuff. On the left is the volume rocker, which doesn't have much travel, but is surprisingly clicky and sturdy. The same can be said about the power button on the right, which depresses with a satisfying tick. Sadly, the camera button, while it does provide some resistance feels significantly less robust (again, more on that later). There's also the trio of buttons up front. The physical Windows key is a nice touch and is flanked by the search and back buttons, both of which are capacitive. The two touch-sensitive keys seemed a tad too responsive in use. Simply brushing our fingers in the general vicinity of the search key was more than enough to launch Bing. This turned out to be particularly frustrating when trying to take a photo since our thumb naturally wanted rest right on top of it.
Obviously, the part of the phone you'll be interacting with the most is the screen. At 3.7 inches and only 800 x 480 the display isn't exactly lust worthy in the specs department. Thanks to Windows Phone 7's blocks of solid color and stark, straight lines you'll barely miss the extra pixels found on handsets running other OSes. In fact, the Super AMOLED panel does a great job of highlighting the beauty of Metro's minimal design, even if it does lend everything a slightly bluish tint, likely thanks to its pentile matrix. The only spec that had us scratching our heads was the paltry 8GB of storage. Sure, this is a budget device, but without the ability to expand via microSD, any media mavens will chew through the available space in no time at all.
Performance and battery life
Powering this petite Mango phone is a single-core, second-gen Snapdragon clocked at 1.4GHz. The Adreno 205 GPU that accompanies it is getting a little long in the tooth at this point and certainly can't keep pace with the likes of the iPhone 4S
. It's not a huge deal, however, Metro doesn't require a ton of power to run smooth as silk and there aren't many games in the Marketplace that call for serious polygon pushing. In fact, Microsoft has spent so much time optimizing its mobile OS for this particular chip that while Android might balk at such a puny processor, Mango runs with nary a hiccup. In WP Bench the Flash scored a respectable 92.15 -- not quite as high as the Titan
(96), but definitely an improvement on the Lumia 800
(86). And it should run circles around the similarly budget-minded HTC Radar
which sports only a 1GHz CPU. SunSpider scores also fell right in between the Lumia and Titan, clocking in at 6,842ms -- only 300ms behind the 4.7-inch beast, but almost twice as slow as the iPhone 4 (not the 4S).
The relatively tiny 1,500mAh battery is a bit of a let-down. It managed to make it through a day of relatively heavy usage, including a decent amount of web browsing, photo taking and app installing, and will probably cruise into the following morning under more moderate usage. But that's it -- expect to charge the Focus Flash everyday. And knowing how quickly some of you (OK, us) can wear down one of these lithium ion packs, don't be surprised if you have to keep the charger in your bag six months down the road. Then again, it did last just shy of four hours (three hours and 55 minutes, to be exact) in the WP Bench battery test, where as the Lumia 800 only managed two hours and forty minutes and the Titan dropped dead at three hours.
The five megapixel shooter on the back isn't going to win any awards. It's passable for the occasional snapshot, but we'd keep a hold of our dedicated digicam if we were you. It took decent pics in daylight and cranking up the contrast and saturation in the settings produced surprisingly vivid, if somewhat unnatural looking images. Low light performance, however, left something to be desired. Photos were practically pitch black outdoors at night, even with the aid of some artificial light, and the flash completely washed out anything closer than six feet away. The cam didn't fare much better indoors, under fluorescent lighting. The camera had a tough time focusing and colors appeared oddly muted. The 1.3mp cam up front should be fine for some informal video chatting, but the noisy, flat images it captured wouldn't even pass muster on a MySpace page.