The Samsung Focus 2 makes no effort to hide that it is a budget Windows Phone. With that framework in mind, it does a fantastic job with the hardware it's been given.

We liked

For lack of a better word, the Focus 2 is just "right."

It offers surprisingly zippy performance, more than capable of holding its own even against higher-end Windows Phones like the Nokia Lumia 900 and HTC Titan II.

That performance is matched enough battery life to get you through the day and the Windows Phone interface that adds both style and substance to the smartphone.

Sure, the camera could be a little better, but you can still get a lot of mileage out of the 5-megapixel one included.

It's a perfectly capable smartphone. That may sound like the kiss of death to gadget hounds, but it is not meant as a condemnation by any means. The Focus 2 may not set any records but it can do anything you would ask of a Windows Phone, and do it well.

We disliked

Despite our optimism for the Focus 2, it is not without faults. AT&T's 4G LTE network is chief among them, holding the phone back with slow internet reception assuming it can connect at all.

The lack of expandable memory is also a major drawback, since the 8GB of internal storage is actually closer to six and a half once the OS and standard apps are taken into account. Not that you need much memory to download the best of what the sparse Windows Phone Marketplace has to offer.

The phone also disappoints with its smooth plastic casing, which feels cheap compared to other handsets on the market. This is less of a problem when taking the Focus 2's price into account, but it certainly doesn't inspire confidence in the phone's ability to survive a fall.

Final 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.

It doesn't help that thanks to aggressive pricing the Nokia Lumia 900 can now be found in the same budget $50 price range as the Focus 2. It's a shame, because the Focus 2 really is a great handset, and as a high quality low cost Windows Phone it would be a an easy recommendation. But when held up against Nokia's flagship device at the same price the faults become that much harder to overcome, leaving the Focus 2 too little too late.