Apart from its smaller screen, the Samsung Focus Flash is a very capable multimedia device. Compared to the Focus S, it offers all of the same apps and features for video and music playback.
Most of the multimedia function is handled through the Microsoft Zune platform which offers a music store, FM radio, and of course Zune Music Pass for MP3 streaming.
The Flash's smaller size makes it well suited as an MP3 player; however, its 8GB of total storage does not.
You'll likely want some sort of streaming service if you plan on getting series with your tunes.
The Flash also has SmartDJ for building quick playlists and Bing Music Search for easily identifying and purchasing songs, both function just as they do with the Focus S.
As for video playback, the Flash supports the same limited list of file formats as its big brother, accompanied with the same headache associated with the Zune software, but it also excels just as well at HD playback of supported formats.
The Super AMOLED Plus display is vivid and features great contrast ratios, but if watching videos is your thing, you'll probably want to consider a larger device.
Battery life and connectivity
While the 1500mAh battery in the Samsung Focus Flash is a tiny bit smaller than the battery in the Focus S, the smaller display allows for very similar battery life.
At first, we were surprised that we were getting roughly 14 hours of battery life while the phone was primarily left in standby mode – pretty appalling. We eventually found that the culprit was a poor cell connection.
Because the antenna is slightly weaker and we were using the phone on the edge of a coverage zone, the connection constantly had to be reestablished, quickly draining the battery.
Simply moving the phone a few feet was enough to keep a solid connection, allowing us to achieve battery life pretty much identical to the Focus S.
Apart from the minor reception issue, overall connectivity is similar to the Focus S. Bluetooth 2.1, A-GPS, FM radio (using the stereo cable as an antenna), and Wireless B/G/N are all included. WiFi sharing is also possible.
Our WiFi test maxed out the speed test server.
Unlike the Focus S, however, the Flash only has a 2.4GHz wireless radio. The 5.0GHz band certainly isn't a requirement these days, but considering the growing congestion on 2.4GHz connections, it could be very useful in the not so distant future.
Bluetooth file sharing is still an impossibility with WP7, which is unfortunate, but the Zune software does allow for syncing over your wireless network to make up for the inconvenience.
One of the biggest disappointments is, once again, AT&T's network. While the Focus Flash is a 4G HSPA+ device capable of 21Mbps (just like the Focus S), we only averaged 1.8Mbps in our speed tests.
The max speed we reached was 4.2Mbps – the only time we broke 2Mbps.
AT&T is known to be problematic in the San Francisco Bay Area, so these speed issues may not be relevant in your area. 4G LTE, though harder on the battery, could be the remedy we're looking for. If only the Flash were an LTE device.
Maps and apps
For apps, the Samsung Focus Flash makes use of the WP7 Marketplace, which really hasn't changed at all since our Focus S review. Since that review, the market has grown by about 10,000 apps, putting it at a total of 83,000.
Microsoft Office comes included, of course, and Xbox Live offers a slowly growing game library. This is something that will be consistent among all WP7 devices.
The same holds true for maps and navigation. Microsoft has done very well in getting it half right, and half wrong.
Location searches and even directions are a breeze thanks to Local Scout, but navigation is still a mess. Unless you have a passenger to help you navigate the navigation app, it's best not to rely solely on the Flash for turn-by-turn directions.