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Samsung Ativ S Hands On Review


Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £440.00
  • 4.8in display
  • 1.5GHz dual-core processor
  • microSD card slot + 16/32GB built in storage


The Samsung Ativ S is the company’s new flagship Windows Phone 8 handset. With a 4.8in screen, microSD slot and similar styling, you could consider it the Samsung Galaxy S3 of the Windows Phone market.

Samsung Ativ S Design

While HTC and Nokia have chosen to go for bold, colourful designs for their Windows Phone 8X by HTC (HTC 8X) and Nokia Lumia 920 handsets, Samsung has gone for a rather more sedate look. The back is finished in a faux brushed metal while the front has a shiny grey look. It would be quite nice and smart if it didn’t have that same slightly lacklustre plasticky vibe as the Galaxy S3.

Samsung has got the button layout and overall handling right, though. Down the right hand side are the power and camera buttons (oh that the Galaxy S3 had a camera button), while on the left is the volume control. All are easy to feel and have a defined action, unlike the HTC 8X whose buttons are too flush with the handset making them difficult to find.

Samsung Ativ S Specs

Unlike both Nokia and HTC’s flagship Windows Phone 8 phones the Samsung Ativ S does have a removable backplate. Not only does this mean you can easily swap the battery if needs be but under here there’s also a microSD slot, which allows the storage to be expanded.

There’s also a fast processor tucked away in here. The Qualcomm MSM8960 Snapdragon is only a dual-core chip but it’s actually mighty fast so should keep this phone feeling nice and nippy. This is backed up by 1GB of RAM.

Elsewhere you’ve got a rear-facing 8MP camera that also shoots 1080p video and front facing 1.3MP camera. We gave the cameras a quick go in our hands on time at the Windows Phone 8 launch and they seemed par for the course at this high-end of the market.

NFC, GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 4G are all also on board so all your latest wireless comms are taken care of.

Windows Phone 8

As with all phones that run Windows Phone 8 Samsung hasn’t been allowed to mess with the interface so it will look and feel just like it does in our Windows Phone 8 review. But Samsung has been allowed to add a few custom apps including its streaming music service, Music Hub, which boasts 3 million tracks.

First Impressions

We’ll be back with more thoughts on the Samsung Ativ S when we get a sample in for review but for now it looks like Samsung has achieved what it did with the Samsung Galaxy S3: it’s a phone that packs in all the latest specs but lacks that desirability factor that comes with good design.

We test every mobile phone we review thoroughly. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly and we use the phone as our main device over the review period. We’ll always tell you what we find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.

Find out more about how we test in our ethics policy.

Used as our main phone for the review period

Reviewed using respected industry benchmarks and real world testing

Always has a SIM card installed

Tested with phone calls, games and popular apps

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