Samsung Ativ S – Initial Impressions

DSCF1643There is always one late comer to every party.  In this case, Samsung announced the Windows Phone 8 touting Ativ S back in August of 2012 but didn’t actually manage to release it until December, almost a whole month after the Nokia Lumia 920.

Still as the saying goes, better late than never, now it is finally here and thanks to the wonderful guys over at Clove.co.uk I have a chance to take  an in depth look at Samsung’s offering to the Windows Phone world.

Good Points

  • The design – a really great looking handset
  • An actual standalone physical camera shutter button
  • The screen – 4.8″ of beautiful goodness
  • Removable 2300mAh battery

Bad Points

  • Battery cover feels a little flimsy
  • Feels a little plasticky

Design

Straight out of the box this is an absolutely beautifully designed piece of hardware.  The back looks like brushed aluminium and it is only upon removing the battery cover that one can tell that it is actually plastic.  The 4.8″ screen is topped with the Samsung logo and the chrome speaker.  The front camera and sensors are to the right of the speaker.  Under the screen are the backlit back and search buttons with the Windows button in the middle.

I’ll give a full description of the device and its various buttons, bells and whistles in the full review but suffice to say that as a design it is a masterpiece.

Hardware

One of the accusations levelled at the last generation of Windows Phone devices was that they were considerably underpowered when compared with the latest and greatest devices.  This is not something that can be said of the new handsets.

The full list of specifications is as follows:

  • 4.8″ 1280×720 Super AMOLED screen
  • Corning Gorrilla Glass 2
  • 137.2 x 70.5 x 8.7mm
  • Weight 135g
  • 16gb onboard storage
  • MicroSD card Slot (up to 32gb)
  • 3.5mm Jack
  • 1GB RAM
  • 8MP Rear camera with LED flash
  • 1.9MP front facing camera
  • Chipset – Qualcomm MSM8960 Snapdragon
  • Dual-core Krait 1.5 GHz CPU
  • Adreno 225 GPU
  • Wi-Fi
  • GPS
  • Bluetooth
  • 2300mAh battery
  • Windows Phone 8

Software

The Ativ S is a Windows Phone 8 device.  Out of the box it is standard Windows Phone fare with a few add ons such as Music Hub, ChatOn, Family Story and Photo editor included.  Much has been made of the supposed lack of apps for Windows Phone however this is simply not the case, a search of the Windows Store shows that the number is growing every day and pretty much every base is covered.

One inclusion is Samsung’s Now app which places a live tile on your homescreen giving weather, news, share prices, currency exchange rates and top tweets.  Its a great addition giving a good summary of all your top rated information.

Initial Conclusion

The Ativ S seems to have the wow factor.  A device that looks not unlike a Galaxy SIII in design, a stunning screen and an OS that flows speedily is making an interesting proposition.  The couple of days that I have so far spent with the device have been nothing but pleasurable.  Couple all of that with a phone that looks great and this could be a winning formula.  The full review will be published soon so stay tuned……

  • Martin

    Been waiting for this to surface, in photos it is certainly the nicest looking W8 phone.
    Look forward to the review….cracks whip.

  • Anonymous

    Minor detail, but *all* windows phones have a dedicated camera/shutter button. Its a hardware requirement.

    The press and hold to activate the camera (even when locked) feature is a real winner (available from day 1 with windows phone seldom reported) especially if you’re going to use the phone as your point and shoot camera.

  • http://twitter.com/filaodotorg filao.org

    My next phone is either this or the 920, it comes down to expandable memory vs. camera quality.

  • Stuart Millard

    I bought an Ativ S on PAYG from Phones4U a week ago for £390 (+£10 topup) and I have to say I’m impressed. It’s slick, light-as-a-feather, doesn’t feel plasticky and now that Nokia have released Drive for all Windows Phones, it’s got a killer feature too. Mine came with a 16Gb MicroSD card too, so has 32Gb storage in effect.

  • Trevor

    I’m very happy with my ATIV S and preferred it over other WP8 phones because of expandable memory and more conservative (I didn’t want a cheap looking coloured plastic body), yet sleek design. Battery cover is flimsy, but unless you’re whipping it on and off every 5 minutes, you’ll never notice. Once assembled the phone feels nice and solid.

    MicroSD expansion is up to 64GB (at least, SHXC max is theoretically more), not 32GB as stated. One issue I had is that the card must be formatted as FAT32 rather than the exFAT most cards come formatted as. I had to do this on a separate windows PC, so not great, as the phone’s format option uses exFAT! All works fine now (around 59GB capacity when formatted). Plenty of SIII users have encountered this issue, which is what the hardware of the ATIV S is based on, so there are resources out there for anyone running into problems.

    I would say that there is a slight delay when accessing the media on the MicroSD card. Not sure if that’s because of the huge capacity, something I did wrong, or the very reason WP7 avoided expandable storage – it leads to unpredictable performance and goes against the principles of a known hardware platform. Still, the delay is tiny and I’m more than happy to put up wit this so I can carry my entire music collection around with me, most of which is a bit obscure!

    By the way, my phone, which I bought out of contract and therefore unlocked, came with a Samsung 16GB MicroSD thrown in the box. Not sure if all retail packages are like that, but if so you’re really getting a phone with almost 32GB storage out of the box. With this card in the phone and a small amount of music on it there was no delay, so perhaps it’s something to do with the number of files and clusters on the drive that introduce delays.

    Enough waffling from me… Any questions you have about the phone, let me know and I’ll try to help.