Samsung ATIV S Review: the Windows Phone that could have been so much more

Windows Phone Central's review of Samung's flagship Windows Phone 8 device

Samsung is in a rather odd position. Its strength is certainly Android, but the company enjoys skinny dipping into the Windows Phone ecosystem every once in a while. The ATIV S is Samsung’s answer to Windows Phone 8, offering a familiar style to the Galaxy S3 line of Android smartphones (which can be viewed as both a positive and drawback) and packing a serious punch.

The ATIV S is supposed to be taken seriously, and when you first get some hands-on time with the Windows Phone, it’s easy to see why. It’s incredibly hard to put the smartphone down after booting the thing up for the first time. But I can't help but feel as though the ATIV S could have (and should have) been so much more.

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Extraordinarily light, sports an intriguing look and feel. Has all the bells and whistles one would expect from a flagship Windows Phone, plus the added SD support.

Home button is slightly too close to the screen, leading to mistakes in pressing the display instead of hitting home. It's Samsung - lack of marketing.
 The ATIV S is a breath of fresh air, especially with the force of Nokia and the Lumia family of Windows Phones. It’s a high-end smartphone with everything and the kitchen sink, but falls short in the marketing and OEM app department. The ATIV S could have been so much more, a real killer if Samsung was behind Windows Phone.


There are surprisingly a few variants of the Samsung ATIV S, depending on your region and market. Reader of the site Alvin P. sent us this list that he compiled of the three different options:

  • Samsung ATIV S GT-I8370 (opens in new tab) - the global ATIV S, available in 16 or 32GB options
  • Samsung ATIV S GT-I8750 (opens in new tab) is the UK ATIV S (this model is also sold in Singapore) but with a 1.2MP front camera instead of 1.9MP (claimed to have the option of 16GB and 32GB)
  • Samsung ATIV S SGH-T899M (opens in new tab) is the Canadian ATIV S but with LTE (700MHz band) and a downgrade of it's Bluetooth from 3.0 to 2.1 (only known to have 16GB).


The Body

The Samsung ATIV S looks as though it has borrowed some of its looks from the Galaxy S3, but we’re going to talk about a stark difference between the two. The Windows Phone sports a more metallic look than the Android flagship smartphone, with a hairline finish that really makes it stand out among the coloured offerings from both Nokia and HTC.

The device screams out chrome with the edge wrapping around the sides of the handset. What’s odd is that first impressions may immediately conclude cheap, plastic and horrid to hold, but such thoughts are eliminated as soon as the ATIV S is held in the hand. The rear of the ATIV S is where the hairline finish shines, which actually dictates the flexible (and we mean flexible) back plate.

What’s more is the Samsung ATIV S is large, screen-wise. We’re talking about a 4.8-inch display. But as mentioned above, this Windows Phone is incredibly thin and light. At just 8.7 mm thick and weighing in at only 135grams, the ATIV S is a perfect solution for those who simply don’t lift enough to pick up a Lumia 920, which has continuously been branded as the "tank."

The ATIV S doesn’t go large with bold colours for marketing. Samsung has focused more on a premium look with the specifications that consumers demanded from Windows Phone 7 hardware. If you’re looking for something that will be customisable with shells and coloured choice, you’re in the wrong place. If you’re set to focus on a top-notch Windows Phone experience, be sure to continue reading on.

The Display

We’re pretty advanced when it comes to smartphone display technology. Whether you’re packing a device that sports a super LCD or AMOLED the experience is going to be pretty spectacular, especially if you’re moving across from feature phones. The Samsung ATIV S was expected to pack a punch with the screen and it hasn’t failed to deliver – the company has done a great job making advancements on the first generation of Windows Phones.

So what's sported by the ATIV S? We’re talking a HD (1,280 x 720) display, with Corning Gorilla Glass 2, a ppi pixel density of 306 and optimal performance when using the dark system theme. The same AMOLED technology is utilised by Nokia in its Lumia 820 (as well as past generations of Windows Phones) and is showing promising signs for future deployment (check the Samsung Galaxy S4 for an insight into what we could be getting next).

While the implementation on the ATIV S uses a PenTile RGBG-matrix, one does not simply walk into Mordor and notice pixels on the screen through normal usage.

While we could continue raving about the screen and how good it performs (particularly with the dark theme set), it’s what would be expected from consumers who are forking out the big bucks for a high-end Windows Phone. Does it trash the Lumia 920? Not at all, but it’s certainly no slouch that’s for sure.

The only drawback is the lack of Sensitive Touch, which Nokia is implementing into its line of Windows Phones. We’d like to see more manufacturers follow suit – you’ve got to take care in the cold, right? Other than a few noticeable differences when compared to the competition, the display on the ATIV S is outstanding. It's bright, colourful and massive.

The Internals

The ATIVS is powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon CPU, which is more than enough horsepower to get through all possible tasks thrown at it by the OS. Windows Phone 7.x ran comfortably on just a single-core chip, but the extra core is definitely a worthy advance on top of legacy hardware. However, when compared to the other high-end Windows Phones, the ATIV S has a more attractive storage with an SD slot present.

This is a pretty huge deal. Both the Lumia 920 and HTC 8X Windows Phones do not sport such a feature alongside the available internal storage, which is really where the Samsung ATIV S fits within the ecosystem. It’s not the most feature-rich (in terms of wireless charging, Supersensitive screen technology, and more), but we’re talking about Samsung getting the absolute basics spot on.

You’ve got both a 16 and 32 GB option, with the added benefit of the SD expansion (up to an additional 64GB for multimedia - a 16GB card  was bundled with our unit). There’s 1GB RAM on-board to complement both the generous storage and processor. You’ll be able to power through the likes of Asphalt 7 with relative ease (should you be able to control the cars), but do note that you’ll take a hit on battery life with the hardware working at maximum.

Speaking of which, the ATIV S sports a 2,300mAh battery. It’s huge. The sAMOLED display already does a good job at saving some juice, especially when the dark theme is used, but the sheer size of the reactor means consumers will be able to go through the day without worrying about having to duck and dive for a power socket.

For connectivity, Samsung has included NFC (Near-Field Communication) for wireless payments, data transfer and more, as well as Bluetooth and WiFi (both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands supported). Unfortunately, the ATIV S is limited when it comes to mobile data, restricted to HSPA+. Now don't get me wrong, LTE is super-fast, there’s no denying it, but HSPA+ isn’t slow by any means.

The Software

The ATIV S runs Windows Phone 8, so be sure to read our in-depth review on Microsoft’s latest mobile platform. As for OEM extras, Samsung has created “The Samsung Zone” that offers a number of exclusive apps for consumers to take advantage of. Let’s be clear here: while the company hasn’t quite the same collection as Nokia, they do have a number of useful tools available.

So what are we looking at here? Samsung has loaded Now for consumers to keep up-to-date with stocks, weather reports, top tweets and more. As well as that we have ChatON, Photo Editor, Music Hub, Live Wallpaper and more. There are some interesting apps, including RSS Times and Photogram, but there are also some strange offerings such as Beauty.

If you’re looking for a strong OEM app collection, it's worth saying a Lumia Windows Phone will be more your thing, but Samsung definitely does have the foundations set for a decent offering, the Samsung Zone just requires more tender loving care. Thankfully, if you purchase an ATIV S, you can enjoy Nokia’s HERE Drive Beta experience, which is available for all Windows Phones.

The Camera

The Samsung ATIV S sports a 1.9MP front-facing camera, as well as an 8.0MP rear shooter. The FFC is decent enough, but don't expect the ability to take some mug shots for a model agency. It's perfect for VOIP calls and general fooling around. The main camera is where the ATIV S shines. It's surprisingly good.

We've previously highlighted the HTC TITAN for its underdog-like shooter, and now Nokia has taken the show with PureView technology on the Lumia 920, but we've got to hand it to Samsung as they've done a top job with the ATIV S. As with every Windows Phone, there are a number of options available for customising the end result for shots and video.

There are options for Anti-Shake, white balance, focus mode, resolution, flash and more.

So how does the camera perform out and about? Really well, actually. There's no DSLR quality here, but you're going to be capturing the detail that matters most when the time arises. It's perfect for whipping out when outdoors (we can't vouch too heavily since we're allergic to fresh air) for those gems and upload to SkyDrive and other social networks.

Check out some shots below of both day and night shots, inside and out. We're looking at top quality results, there's no doubt about it - except when used in low-light conditions. 

ATIV S Photo Sample

ATIV S Photo Sample 2

ATIV S Review Sample

ATIV S Review Sample

The ATIV S sports an impressive camera

We took a quick look at the results produced from both the ATIV S and Lumia 920 (with Portico) and below is the comparison:

As one can see, there's not an awful lot in it. The 920 produces a more rich shot, but almost seems like there's a little too much colour injected into the environment. The ATIV S looks more real, but both Windows Phones produce great photos.If this were at night, it would certainly be a whole different kettle of fish, but the camera isn't supposed to be the major selling point of the ATIV S.

Lastly, the above is footage recorded on the ATIV S (with default video settings).

The Accessories

There are a number of accessories available for the ATIV S (as is the case with any modern-day smartphone). There are no wireless charging stations or addons that can be snatched up, but ATIV S owners can still enjoy a wide variety of extras. There are a range of stylus pens, cases and more that can further personalise and / or enhance the overall experience.

The Windows Phone Central Store (opens in new tab) also packs a punch when it comes to accessories and is arguably the best resource for checking out what gear you can purchase for your Windows Phone.We have an ever-growing catalogue that includes backup batteries (opens in new tab), cases (opens in new tab), memory cards (opens in new tab), screen protectors (opens in new tab) and more.

The Phone

So the hardware is great so far, and the experience is pretty solid, but how's the ATIV S to use as an actual phone? That's the reason we all purchase smartphones, right? For actually calling and messaging contacts, just with that little bit extra. As mentioned above, there's no LTE support, but that's no deal breaker as the Windows Phone performs valiantly as a mobile device. 

Call quality is good and conversation can be heard clearly with no issues. The device itself feels good to hold, and while it may look as though there's lack of texture, we've not had the situation where the ATIV S has managed to slip out of grip - particularly while in a call. While the 4.8-inch display is a whopper, there's surprisingly no issue with reaching all corners of the real estate. 

The added bonus to the above is just how light the ATIV S is. It's a feather, especially compared to the Lumia 920. Something we've not noted in the review yet is how powerful the vibration is. It could just be our unit, but the haptic feedback is really, really strong - which is a positive indeed. The battery can last the day easily - another reason to game hard while on the move with 2,300mAh on-board.

The Conclusion

As I mentioned in the opening of this article, we give Samsung flak. They deserve it to some degree, but the ATIV S is a good smartphone. Actually, scratch that. It's a beautiful Windows Phone. But I stand by what's in the title - it could (and should) have been so much more. If Samsung were to be behind Microsoft and Windows Phone, I could definitely see units moving off shelves and consumers enjoying the Samsung experience.

They've already proven it's possible. Take a look back at the Focus range of Windows Phones. They were the most popular devices at the time, but Samsung has slowly lost interest. There has to be some understanding from consumers as to possible reasons for this to occur. They all relate to Android. Samsung's pride and joy (when it comes to popularity and revenue).

What will the future hold? It's uncertain, especially when one talks about Samsung. Will they still be here in a year's time? More than likely. I can't see them throwing in the towel, no matter what happens in the mean time. Is there a possibility more effort may be displayed in the future with marketing and development within the Samsung Zone? I can only hope so, but that'll depend on overall sales and demand, which haven't been strong - according to Samsung.

The ATIV S is a superb mobile phone, one that you should not regret after purchasing. If you're into the whole experience beyond Windows Phone itself, Nokia's definitely the way forward for the time being. Should you be on the lookout for a more laid back Windows Phone with a focus on the operating system without all the extras, the ATIV S is a strong choice indeed.

The Samsung ATIV S is available through various International Markets (U.K., Canada, Germany, etc.) at various pricing points.  It is not currently available from U.S. wireless providers.

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

  • I have this phone. It feels really great in hand. Solid. Display is great. Phone is fast. The battery oh boy it's a long lasting one. .I hope samsung will still make new devices for WP8/9 in the future.
  • I also own it, and love it!
  • Liars...both of a picture...we only believe then !!
  • I live in Canada, they have lots up here, not sure how to post a pic of my phone when all I have is my phone?!
  • Use a mirror?
  • Ain't nobody got time for that!
  • I bought the Ativ S, I love it at first and now I HATE IT! the thing practically fell apart. Ans since I imported it from Canada I don't get any sort of buyer protection. 
    -I dropped the think from 2 feet: Cracked the screen 
    -Out of nowhere (I swear), one second I put the thing in my pocket to check the time, then next time I pulled it out; there was a diagonal crack clear across the screen (unrelated to the first crack
    -the device had started giving me with wierd issue where if I applied too much pressure to the bottom left it would turn off, and I had to pull the batter, hold the power button and put the battery back in!
  • Are you guys kidding me? the phone was released internationally!! check ebay you'll find them, doesn't make sense to ask users to prove they have the phone if it's been out for months now.
  • You can count on a WP version of the GS4. This is how I know 1080p screens are coming to WP with the next generation of devices. Possibly even quad core processors...
  • Quad core for sure. Idk about 1080p.
  • I hope so. 5inch display and quad core would be awesome. We'll see if Samsung is going to ignore the future WP8/9 market.
  • I was so upset on my Lumia 920 that I got myself a Ativ S. My boss had one, I could see how well it performed. This is the best WP8 for those who do lots of texting, email, calls. The screen is Amoled, so colors are not as perfect, but 4.8 inches make reading easy! The battery is superb! Way ahead of the Lumia 920 and 8X. The camera is good. I have the international 16Gb version. As to microSD, great for music and pictures. This Phone is what WP8 needs to succeed in the US market! It is excellent!
  • Call bullshit.
  • What carrier are you on?
  • I just can't go back to the "Blue" screens that Samsung puts in them. The Focus S was a GREAT phone, but was just blue... I have gone through the ringer looking for the best Windows Phones and ran out of money... lol
    Surround > Focus > Radar 4G > Focus S + Focus Flash > Titan > Lumia 900 > HTC 8X > Lumia 810 (current)
    Personally, I think the form factor of the Lumia 620/720 series looks amazing. If the memory doesn't get too bogged down, I think I would take the 720 as my next 'side grade' as most Windows Phones really aren't upgrades or downgrades. For what I use the device for, the Titan is still the strongest. Great battery life, amazing camera and 16GB of uncorruptable storage... Love it... Unfortunately, HTC and AT&T abandoned it quite a while back and I can't even send a Ringtone to a friend... CRAPPY!
  • Does anybody know if any of the 3 versions work on Tmobile?
  • Yes, I am on tbone for 50.00 a month,unlimited all here in NC
  • i have the SHGT899H and it works on t-mobile
  • The Ativ S on T-mo would have rocked. That was the phone I was waiting for....looks like it will be me and my hd7 for awhile.
  • I love my Samsung ATIV S! I bought my ATIV S from TELUS mobility in Edmonton. My ATIV S has LTE and only came in 16GB model. I get 36 hours of power per charge on the Awesome 2300mAh battery! You can get the ATIV S every where in Canada I love it! Thank you Samsung Canada!! Can't wait to see the next ATIV S2 with GS4 inspired hardware. - 5" 1080p
    - Quad-Core Snapdragon 800 series (MSM8974)
    - 2GB RAM
    - 2600mAh battery The future looks Awesome!
  • Do you think they will actually make one based off the lack luster sales of the ATIV S? I think I see some Tizen in their future before another WP super phone...
  • People don't believe the comments on this site. Someone hired me and other people write comments here. He refused to pay me with no reason. Maybe all comments are fake.
  • No WP10 for Ativ S
  • samsung wouldn't have put that much effort in the ativ s (by slappin the ativ s name on a g s3) than the effort put in this review :p
  • People don't believe the comments on this site. Someone hired me and other people write comments here. He refused to pay me with no reason. Maybe all comments are fake.
  • Dont review this. IT'S A TRAP!
  • Looks a nice phone.  With so much focus on the 920, things like this get buried and forgotten, which is sad when there are only 3 WP manufacturers and people are slamming Samsung.  Not that Samsung needs love overall as it's taking over the world, but perhaps less critic, otherwise we may only have 2 suppliers... if HTC survives.
    A pity it's not available in the US really.  Would look stylish in the store.
  • Funny that you mention how sad that it is that this got ignored and yet you ignored a whole WP8 OEM.
  • You are correct.  I forgot Huawei.  Another brand we don't see in the US.
  • The ativ s was up there when I was making my decision of which WP8 device to get. The microSD alot in the high end flagship was my draw. I'm also a big fan of Samsung's amoled screens. But when the ativ s didn't come to the US, that put it out of the running for me (I didn't want to have to deal with buying one from somewhere else).
  • Yea. The microSD was pull for this American too. But it was a no show. I settled with the 920. Expandable memory makes a difference people
  • My thoughts exactly. I really like my focus 1st Gen with 32gb sd card and amoled display. When my wife got her 920 I was really turned off by the display. But with a upgrade coming next month, I really don't want to settle on the 920 because it has the most storage. And storage is important as I spend over two hrs commuting each day. Sigh...
  • Dude, you must be the only one to say the 920 has a horrible display.
  • The AMOLED display is amazing on the ATIV. Holding the 920 next to it the deeper blacks and brighter colors make quite the impression. I wish Nokia would have brought the clear black to the 920 as they had it in the 900 and the comparison between those two is very noticeable.
  • 920 has a great screen, but amoled screens have better viewing angle and brighter whites. I have two 920 and a Focus (Gen 1). Focus has brighter screen and better contrast than 920. There is even a difference between the two 920s me and my wife have, with identical settings and updates.
  • Eh, no. Not brighter whites. AMOLED screens are known for their deeper blacks. They have a bluish white. Also, not better viewing angles either.
  • I happen to prefer the more "true" colors of the 920 display than the saturated colors AMOLED screens. I have both 920 and 810....the crisp-ness of the 920 is easier on the eyes. Just my thoughts
  • I know people will come on here and say "screw Samedung, we have Nokia."  I love my Lumia 920, but as Samsung just showed with their GS4, they are now the juggernaut of smartphones.  Their Galaxy line may become more anticipated than iPhone releases.  Your average consumer wants light weight, big ass screen, and stupid specs (octo core??).  Your slightly nerdier consumer will appreciate removable SD card and battery.  If we want Windows Phone to succeed, we need no compromise hero phones from Samsung.
  • The HTC ONE beats the GSIV in everyway.  Screw Samsung.
  • I disagree with that and so doesn't the Editor of Android Central. I think HTC is going to be in trouble as they won't be able to out maneuver Samsung (nor out spend them).
  • If only Samgung put even 1/4 the effort in marketing the Ativ line as they do their Galaxy line they could have another hit on their hands.
  • Whatever.  I'm in the Windows Phone 8 camp anyway so it dosn't really matter to me.  That said, the design(IMO) and the specs(on paper) of the HTC ONE are superior.  I'm sure the GSIV will out sell the ONE but that dosn't automatically make it the best.
  • Tell us, what do you think is wrong with the HTC One?
  • Uninformed comment. Go check out GS4 specs.
  • The HTC One beats it in UI. Aside from that, the phone is junk.
  • I can and will say the same thing about the GSIV.
  • Well Samsung seems to not feel they should do anything but release a WP phone and with next to no effor to improve it with software features or promote it in any way your point is moot, Samsung themselves dont seem interested so by default Nokia is the face of WP.
  • The " average consumer " doesn't care about specs. Just look at the iphone 5, nothing special there. It still didn't have a problem selling. The problem here is marketing more than anything else
  • Of coarse the average consumer cares about specs.  When all these phones end up being $100-200 on contract anyways, they are going to pick the one with the most cores, the highest resolution, the biggest screen.  The success of Galaxy and the fact that all the OEM's are moving to 5inch, 1080p, quad/octo core phones proves this.  I could explain to my friends until I am blue in the face why octo core is a waste or why 1080p over 720p on a sub 5 inch screen is impossible to percieve.  But your average consumer just thinks "oh dude, its got more cores!"  As for Apple, they live by completely different market dynamics that other OEM's cannot even hope to enjoy.  I mean seriously, walk into HTC or Samsung and try saying "hey, lets go for lesser specs, less features, and higher prices, because Apple does it."  Just because Apple can release a bag of shit and sell millions doesnt mean any other company can.
  • The GS4 will not have an octo-core in the US. It will have the same Snapdragon 600 quad-core that the HTC One has.
  • Samsung ATIV S2 will use the Quad-Core Snapdragon 800 series (MSM8974) and the same 2600mAh battery & 5" 1080p HD display.
  • Very nice review. :) Although I'd really like you to stop saying that nokia drive is available for all phones. :P Its not for my 8x since I live in the netherlands, and there are more countries not supported than there are. ;)
  • anyone want to trade with my red 920? daniel?  cmon!
  • If it is unlocked I will gladly trade mine for it
  • This is the Windows Phone I was looking forward to owning before Samsung decided not to release it in the States.  So I have a HTC 8X instead and couldn't be happier.  Screw Samsung.
  • My feelings exactly coming from a a Focus to an 8X.
  • Samsung bungled it's windows touch products starting with the idiotic ATIV name which takes marketing to a new level of stupidity. It's almost as if Samsung is screwing with MS and stuck that name just to prove a point "we don't need you".
    The US carriers were smart to pass on this, verizon took the cheaper/smaller more managable version. Carrier salesmen would be hard pressed to sell this vs a galaxy anyways and samsung wasn't going to market the ATIV line by any stretch of the imagination. how can you MARKET a product 50% of the people will pronounce wrong!
  • Exactly! Is it pronounced 'AhTeev' or 'AyTiv'?
  • Ahteev
  • Yeah well I'm not subsidizing their android efforts if they put out a half a$$ed product.  The Lumia 920 is a better product than this.  I don't care who thinks the galaxy s 4 is a great phone, much of those specs are there just to amaze people who have no idea what they are doing with a phone.  Why again do you need octocore?  Because android is bloated and samsung thinks putting huge specs brings in people - it does bring in the clueless who think higher numbers are better.  Windows Phone runs circles around android because its a better operating system at its core.
    The majority of android software barely even supports 720p resolution, the point of using 1080p?  Specs thats its.  The majority of software cannot even take advantage of dual core yet why not throw in 8 cores, because specs.
    The galaxy s4 is a phone thats overspeced to appeal to people who think higher numbers is better.
    I'll buy Samsung phones when they produce something less than a cheap galaxy rip off for Windows Phone.  Until then I will keep buying Nokia because Noka is committed to Windows Phone not android.
    Samsungs intentions are to leave android and WP anyway, in their entire press conference how many times did they mention android?  Not many, simply because they intend to replace android with Tizen which can run all android apps and its a truely opensource OS.  It is being written to bypass any patents that violate MS patents so they dont have to keep paying the $15+ patent fees to Micrsofot for each handset, and they become the architects of the OS not google. The interface looks pretty much the same as touchwiz, so the next galaxy s 5 will be using Tizen this summer.
  • Tizen won't stand up to next generation operating system from Android 5 "Key Lime Pie" or WP9 "Blue", iOS7 all this year as well.
  • Its a solid phone
  • What a wasted opportunity in US. Samsung was probably worried about cannibalizing Android & Galaxy line. I don't buy the argument that the US operators did not allow Samsung to release Ativ in the US - its probably Samsung and/or Google who nuked it in US. Anyways, a nice phone. Still hope it comes to Tmobile soon :)
  • +1 I have a Puny 8X. To be honest it's no better than my HD7. I measly 4.3 inch screen with a lousy 16GB and no sd slot. What a joke. The whole purpose of getting a windows phone was for Xbox games. I always have to delete apps, games, music and pics to make room. This totally sucks with Tmobiles W8 selection.
  • Agreed. Still using my hd7. Wanted an ativ then Tmo said only the 8x and L810 were coming. Wouldn't mind the 810 but I'm not going to pay the full price across my bill for the next 20 months.
  • +10 Samsung ATIV S Canadian version should have came to the U.S. every where! Samsung USA sucks.
  • Being a previously satisfied Samsung Focus (first gen) user, as was my wife, I was planning on getting us the ATIV when WP8 came out. And had it been out on launch day, I probably would have done exactly that. However, it's lack of presence "forced" me into the Lumia 920 and I couldn't be happier!
  • If they release the Galaxy S 4 specs on an Ativ with Blue in the US before the Holidays Sammy will steal some sales.
  • Too bad they won't.
  • There will be a ATIV S2 this year. - Quad-Core Snapdragon 800 series (MSM8974)
    - 5" 1080p
    - 2600mAh Hopefully this time comes to the U.S.
  • Why are you doing a review on this phone now. Hasn't it been available for some time? Reviewed already? Just sayin... I had the Samsung Focus from day 1 with WP7 and enjoyed it. If the Ativ had been available at launch I definitely would have considered it but as it is purchased a 920 instead. I think this phone was a waste of time to be honest and am guessing sales numbers would back up this theory. Go hard or go home Samsung and work on your Tizen to further fragment the android world. Nokia ftw!!!
  • I'm not a Nokia fan boy! Samsung is the #1 smartphone maker in the world right now! My opinion the ATIV S is the best WP8 smartphone so far.
  • In my opinion Samsung is extremely overrated. Yes they have good displays but the battery life and durability sucks. All they have is massive billion dollars marketing cost which consumers should pay at the end.
  • In my *experience* you are dead wrong. I've only dropped my Ativ S once (yesterday onto concrete in a silicone case-no damage at all) but my previous Samsung (2 phones ago) survived a 40' flight across a gas station parking lot, 3 swims in toilets, and hundreds of drops with no case, with only a light scratch on the screen to show for it. And my Ativ can easily pull 2 full days of moderate use on a charge.
  • Samsung build quality is horrid. Having owned 2 original focus devices (and passed them down) they each had multiple warranty claims, glitches and "contant beeping" when plugging in to charging. over 2 years i probably did 8 total swaps (free) due to gross defect. They are light and cheap and slippery to hold but to be fair held up ok with a bumper.
    IMHO Galaxy 4 buyers (thin bezel offering no screen protection with drops) so you'd now you need to add big boxy case to protect this device making it unusable with one hand. Usability fail. You'll see tons of broken screen GS4 devices, that is a certainty..
  • +10 for ATIV S with gel case I have also dropped on concrete with NO damage! Awesome 36hour battery life on a single charge is the best on WP8 till ATIV S2!
  • Buy Nokia...Samsung is basically an Android only shop moving forward
  • Nokia - I don't like any of devices exept 920, which has problems with dust getting under front facing camera. That's what I've heard, and I want device without dust inside please.
    HTC - I don't like them, and I don't like 8X or 8S.
    Samsung - Well, I need phone for web browsing, and ATIV S it's perfect. It may not be popular, but it's great phone.
  • Have 920, no ffc dust
  • No ffc dust in mine, either. You only hear from people who have problems, but the majority of users who don't have issues such as the ffc dust problem don't post about it 'cause there's no reason to do so.
  • well i wont try. i dont want to replace my phone 3 or more times before ill get right one
    on the other hand samsung ativ s is cheaper and it brings everything i need
  • +1
  • No FFC dust in mine either but there is in my friends L920.
  • I love my lumia but samsungs tik calling device looks good.
  • We have the 920, the Ativ S and the 8X, and after using all of them for a bit, personally I feel the 920 *barely* nudges out the Ativ and the 8X is a distant third. I use the 920 as my daily, but my wife dropped her 8X last night after using it for roughly 10 days (we've had it for longer but she had a 920 prior; we gave the 920 to my mom as my wife liked the 8X size more). The screen shattered on the 8X, and all my wife can say today is that she wishes she had kept her "indestructible Nokia" (all I can say is "take care of these things! They are $600 mini computers!") So, now I have to decide if I want to get her a 620, or give her my 920 and I switch to the Ativ. It's a very hard decision because while the Nokia has much more Nokia support/apps which I love (and it is nearly bullet proof), the Ativ looks better IMO, and has the SD card slot. But that I am even considering trading a 920 for the Ativ should show that it is a really nice device and is almost, or perhaps is, on par with the Nokia 920.
  • What network are you on? It depends on what your wife needs, I would pick the Nokia first, Samsung second. Remember any profits Samsung gets will be used to promote Android and Tizen, not Windows Phone. As an individual it won't matter but cumulatively it does. If you feel supporting Samsung would mean they bring better devices to WP by all means, but please excuse my cynicism. Samsung will treat WP as second best until the market becomes large and they want a piece of the action. That is the strategy they followed in Android.
  • Well we already own the Ativ S, so financially they have already received our support. We are on Bell, but we were on Rogers (which is why we had 2 920's and then the Ativ S and and the 8X). I agree that Samsung will treat WP as a secondary OS compared to Android, but we have to be honest; in terms of market share, it is. It will take time but I believe that Microsoft sees too much value in the mobile market, and will eventually be in a 3 way tie for first or in a dominant 2nd place. Or they will die trying.
  • Yes, previous support is fine, can't be changed, but current support does matter. If you agree that Samsung will treat Windows Phone second, I would buy the 620 or 920 depending on battery life, use, and features required. If you are on prepaid 620, with carrier suport 920. We know Nokia is supporting this system 110%. Good luck!
  • Tizen is a dead OS....not going anywhere! Android is Samsung money maker! ATIV S is in second place WP8.
  • Lol even her Nokia screen would crack too. So make sure you tell her to not drop it in the first place. People blame something with excuses.
  • I am not blaming Samsung or Nokia or HTC; she dropped it, its her fault, end of story. The point I am making is that she drops things, and her 920 was one of those things. It stood up to her abuse since November, and is still nearly mint. I don't have the same confidence in the Ativ, although I think its an awesome device and am torn between it and the 920.
  • "The screen shattered on the 8X, and all my wife can say today is that she wishes she had kept her "indestructible Nokia"". Just pointing out that her lumias body might take hard beat to break but the screen is still weak. So I'm just saying it wouldn't have made a difference by the way she dropped her phone in the right angle to break the screen.
  • It is a great phone. Got one in the family and the thing is absolutely gorgeous. No complaints at all. Just one thing: I'm pretty sure the Canadian variant has LTE on board. Other than that, great review. A great piece of hardware but just doesn't hold its appeal when compared to a 920.
  • It does have LTE.
  • And we list that in the Variations section, right at the top. Rich, for the video, had a non-LTE one for Europe.
  • +1
  • And the Canadain variant matches up to T-Mobile US's LTE rollout. Sorry, AT&T users-no 700 MHz for you.
  • I don't get how Samsung could make absolutely beautiful hardware for TVs, Laptops, Washers and Dryers, but when it comes to phones, they make a boring slab of a brick. I don't think I'll ever buy a Samsung WP due to them not taking this platform seriously; HTC and Nokia are more deserving in my opinion.
  • My fridge is Samsung, all plastic inside,one of the drawers broke, plastic of course, not very happy with the sturdiness of the internals
  • Samsung is the #1 sold & the biggest cellular phone company in the world. Nokia is #2....soon moved to #3 by LG
  • You're reviewing this now? What's next, a Lumia 900 review?
  • Samsung can't be bothered with Windows Phone (nor promoting their products) so we can't be bothered with them. Simple. They're the least Windows Phone friendly company I have interacted with, just don't care. And, for the record, it just went wide-release in Russia and a few other markets within the last few weeks, so this is still very "new".
  • Too true. I wrote to them to complain about the lack of any audio controls. Their response ? - check google play.!!!! When i thanked them for their diligence in not spotting that it was a windows phone, they wrote back a one liner... Sorry, please check the market place for a third party app. Then added a disclaimer about not favoring anyone by recommending Tossers..
  • According to mr. Shin Samsung doesn't give a f*** about WP...
  • That is a good article. But notice he implied that there is just no demand for WP. I think they tried to get on board with WP but if it ain't selling then why bother? Isn't the ATIV their 5th WP?
  • No demand for Samsung WP that is...
    Ps! Haven't seen ONE Samsung commercial for Ativ... It's MASSIVE for s3...
  • There's no demand for Sammy WP. This is in part due to Samsungs lack lustre investment into Windows phone. They surrendered a huge lead in WP market share via this lack of commitment. They've proven they can market the hell out of good to average things and sell bucket loads of them. Conclusion is that they didn't care. I thought the Omnia7 was the slickest of the Gen 1 devices and couldn't wait for their Gen 2 devices, then nothing (in the UK at least). What I think is really going on is minimal WP support because Samsung is contracted to do so, probably as part of a patent licensing agreement.
  • I am another one who wished this phone came to the US...if this baby hit verizon with LTE, I would of been all over it.... It was between this and the 920, I dont like AT&T and the 920 has No MicroSD slot..... Siff, sob...
    Too bad, Maybe they will create a version of the S4 with Windows Phone.....yea, right...
  • They will it's called Samsung ATIV S2 this fall.
  • I think in the future will have three OS and one big brand for each one.
  • I see the future like this: #1 Android
    #2 Windows Phone
    #3 iPhone BB10 is dead!
  • I still don't want a Samsung phone, especially since they're talking shit about WP. Really, if Tizen is great it'll stand on it's own merits. Don't start popping junk to hype your wares. They're the #1 phone maker, congrats,...but all giants fall eventually.
  • Daniel's comment above shows it is releasing in other markets now. Still the timing is a bit peculiar.
  • Article title is misleading in that it implies the ativ s is a bad device even though the article clearly classifies it as a top notch wp8 phone. Anyways just my 2 cents. Loving my ativ s!
  • Not misleading. The point is while it's a great phone, you can barely buy it anywhere. The marketshare for this device is very tiny and Samsung is doing nothing to promote it...that's why it could have been so much more.
  • Ya its a little confusing why the us didn't get it (or have they now?). I'm in Canada and got mine thru telus, had to wait a week for the order but worth the wait since I was on a blackberry 9800 before I got this.
  • I think the only 1 first class nation that did not get the ATIV S was the U.S.?
  • It looks much better than the galaxy s3 and galaxy s4. The ativ looks nice but Nokia efforts and support trumps anything that Samsung can put quote content with my Lumia 920
  • +10 ATIV S looks way better than my Galaxy S3 big brother!
  • You can count on a WP version of the GS4. This is how I know 1080p screens are coming to WP with the next generation of devices. Possibly even quad core processors...
  • who needs 1080p on 5 (or less) inch screens? i think 720p it's fine for such a "small" screens
  • More is always better! I can't wait to see the next ATIV S2
  • The only things *I* need more of are battery-life and apps.
  • I'm just looking forward to seeing Samsung ditch Android. It'll have an interesting effect on WP's rankings. It'll also be nice to see what Samsung's OS has to offer.
  • +10
  • ATIV S was my first WP I ever held when I bought. Loving the LTE juices and battery power. Highly recommend this phone!
  • +10
  • Would have gotten if it was in the US. Guess Sammy didn't want my money.
  • Samsung USA sucks!
  • This was the phone for me until US carriers didn't pick it up. Even though there's no LTE, if I can find it somewhere for a good price this will be what I move from my Titan II for. Either this, the One or the GS4.
  • Yea don't understand why at least ATT didn't get this one. Right now you can get the Focus S and 2 for 99¢ as if they are just getting rid of them and should be bringing the ATIV in.
  • A year later, the Samsung Ativ S
    If Samsung released a windows version of the Note 2; it would be an instance purchase for me.  S Pen and with OneNote would be an awesome combination. Although I don’t believe OneNote currently supports digital inking.  It's ashamed of their lack of commitment and marketing for windows phones.
  • I honestly think Samsung not promoting wp8 they ceded almost the entire market to Nokia, Nokia was bleeding money in devices, it is good and bad for us that Samsung did not step up, as I wanted an ativ, but I am extremely impressed with the 920 quality and Nokia support, much more than Samsung support.
  • I love my ativ s. Lte, takes amazing photos, display is top notch. Batter life is best in its class, 28 hours and I play games, surf web, email, listen to music. Its the best phone I have ever had. And I have had 100's
  • Both ms and Google should drop ss. For ms, they are complaining about the success of wp8 and w8 without attempting to contribute. For google, they are becoming an uncontrollable monster that could ultimately damage the OS very badly.
  • Samsung build qulity is very so-so i have tried one of these i would say its like mid range audi compaired to my red lumia 920 being a top spec ferrari, the storage option is welcome though please take note Nokia.
  • By the way the phone supports lte on bell, actually typing from my ativ right now
  • Me too my ATIV S
  • This is the phone I was waiting for on ATT. Never made it so I got the Lumia 920.
  • I love my Lumia 920 btw, but it could be slimmer!!!!
  • The weight and thickness doesn't bother me. They can even make it 2 mm thicker in the next gen if they want, as long as they bring in the heavy duty 808 level camera with PureView.
  • T-Mobile should get this phone in their lineup, it will sell great if they show it to customers. Make no mistake, the Ativ S is a great device and what WP8 needs to succeed in the US. I don't care about Nokia, their hardware QC is lousy! They're too stupid to make Android devices to make a profit and to weaken Samsung. HTC and Samsung simply make better products than Nokia!
  • I would say here that Nokia is like the Romanian army guarding the Northern flank of the 6th army. They are the weakest link because they're so focused on the developing markets which has resulted in a too many devices and a flagship device as unreliable as the Panther D. The Lumia 920 is great, when it works. How many consumers will never buy another Nokia if they get burned? Too many! Placing WP8 down market is the wrong approach. They should make cheap droids and and use WP8 for the better hardware. Why do you think Samsung is so upset? Cheap, lousy, Nokia hardware is destroying the Samsung / HTC effort to make WP8 a profitable business. Nokia is the wrong partner, if the 928 does not deliver quality wise, Nokia deserves to be wiped out!
  • What are you talking about?  The lumia 920 has no more problems than any other phone out there from any other company.  The satisfaction rate for Nokia is also one the highest in the industry and this was a recent poll taken so your idea that there is some consumer dissatisfcation with Nokia is completely made up.  Where there is a problem is Nokia being able to ahve enough 920's in stock to sell to customers.
    Samsung and HTC are upset becasue they would rather create cheap phones with no effort and see customers come to them, that didnt happen because the WP community RIGHTLY saw which company was looking ot make a quality phone - and thats Nokia.
  • Too funny lol
  • As a Romanian I feel insulted. But letting the jokes aside nokia did good that they backed the WP and not android. In the android market they could have not sell high-end smartphones because they are not an android establised brand. And building that brand with cheap phones whould have taken years. Even it they would had made the greatest phone on the planet previous samsung galaxy customers would had still buy another galaxy product and not nokia. and it's normal they make more devices bor different segments. Here in the 3rd world countries(Romania) people don't have galaxy samsung phone but they do all have android with 320x480 and 600mhz processors. So they should too be able to buy a cheap phone with windows 8. And some of those are samsung. As for samsung/htc effor to make wp8 succed maybe htc is trying but samsung in no way.
  • You good and drunk...??
  • They may-the SGH-T899M variant is built with LTE Band IV.
  • Thanks for reviewing this. Weirdly, just this morning I was trying to remember if you guys had done a review on this phone. Perhaps I'm psychic!
  • Is there any version of the ativ s that can be used on straight talk? Or, a byod plan on t-mobile?
  • Crap button positions Earphone socket on the top (should be bottom) NO AUDIO CONTROLS!! Not even basic bass and trebble.
  • who decided not to sell ativ s in the US, Samsung or Microsoft?  Im on AT&T and have the first Samsung Focus that came out about 3years ago. I've been waiting for the Ativ S to come out but see it's not going to happen. I hope AT&T has another high end Windows phone coming out soon like the Lumia 928 going to Verizon. I can't go with the Lumia 920 because it's a little to heavy and thick. Nokia needs to stop the exclusive sell point with these carriers and release them on all of them if they want to sell them like Samsung does with their Galaxy phones.  Bottom line Windows phones need to be more competitive not exclusive.
  • Simple-the carriers.
  • You people are crazy, on here, praising Samsung's pitiful WP presence. They give the big middle finger to MS, and you praise their efforts? Even the name, is disrespectful. ATIV, vita, spelled backwards. Vita, means Life. The opposite of life, is death, or dead. They are the Manchurian Candidate, of OEM's. They want to sabotage WP, and Windows RT. Don't think they'll stop there. Android is too big to take down as easily as WP, but it will get stabbed I the back eventually, for Tizen. Killing WP, and Blackberry, are essential, for the rise of a nascent Tizen, as a viable 3rd platform. Gotta clear away the small fish, hopefully passing iOS, with Galaxy, oops, I mean Android (no I don't), then, as THE ONLY massively profitable manufacturer, of Google's platform, they can fork it, of muscle it into compliance. Then, they can leverage their brand recognition, into Tizen sales. They are a Trojan Horse, on both iOS, and WP platforms. Beware.
  • Excellent point.
  • So sam-dung want to destroy wp? D: copycat...arrrgz.
  • LOL Tizen is a dead OS......and so is BlackBerry!
  • This was the early favorite for me. It really looks great and has an impressive set of features. To bad it was released late and not in the US. I bought the Lumia 920 and haven't regretted it at all.
  • Dat design. D':
  • I like my atvis surprisingly.
  • +10
  • Has anyone figured out what happened to the panorama lens that was featured in many video reviews? I may be getting this phone since it's the only flagship WP8 device on Telus and I really could make use of the panorama.  It looked similar to the Nokia panoramic lens, but everything I've read says that it doesn't seem to exist on the phone or in the marketplace.
  • Yes it's called MS Photosynth I have it! Works great.
  • So, my Question, why haven't a US Cell Carrier made this phone available?  It's the one I wanted, or Maybe now the S IV variant for windows.
    I would disagree about Samsung.  I think they are gettting out of the WindowsPhone and Windows RT business.
    I could also be tempted by the future Galaxy Note III at 6.3 inches.  But, with windowsphone.  If not, then I will have to take the plunge and go Android, as painful as that sounds, I hate all the other WP hardware.
  • .
  • I didn't realise the GT-I8750 had only a 1.2MP front camera - I feel a bit ripped off now...
    Also, I've yet to see any 32GB variants in the wild.
  • 32GB ATIV S would have been Awesome.
  • does anybody know what weather app the guy is using? it is the large live tile with 5 day forecast on one side and todays weather on the other, thats a nice app, but i can't find what its called
  • Yup - It's called WeatherFlow.  I've got it on my phone, and it works amazingly!
  • thats not weatherflow, i just installed it and it looks nothing like that app :(
  • Samsung NOW
  • Lol just picked one up for myself like 10 minutes before this review came out.
  • +10
  • Round twitter notofication?
  • Screw them really they are trying to railroad ms.
  • I also have the 8X. Samsung wants to sell the Ativ S in the states, but the carriers decided to give Nokia a chance, big mistake as a 4.8 inch phone is needed in the US market.
  • I ask... Why does WP Central not organize a group purchase of the Samsung Ativ S, or offer it for purchase over its store. The international phone seems to have FCC approval. I guess a company like or other would be more than happy to help out! Why not? If WP Central would make them available, Samsung USA might start distribution in the US.
  • You can buy one unlocked from eBay UK if you like.
  • The SGH-T899M follows the usual naming staandards for T-Mobile US phones that usually wind up in Candaian carriers as well. The fact that it uses T-Mobile LTE Band IV would make it an ideal phone for T-Mobile US to actually sell, but a lot will depend on whether the current Tmo-US base of Wp8 phones will make it worth their while to carry it. If the metroPCS deal goes through, they may bring it up during the metroPCS merger. .
  • Can you store apps on the SD card?
  • No! I wish....64GB microSD for music, video, pictures only for now...maybe they will unlock this in the future?
  • The two things that differentiate the Ativ are the removable battery and the SD card. Having had to in the past replace 2 year old Li batteries that went bad I won't buy a phone that does not have a replacable battery. The SD card for media is also a must have for me as manufacturers want huge premiums for high memory models. If Nokia and HTC want my business they need these 2 features their flagship phones.
  • +10
  • SD card and removable battery are some big problems for OEMs. The SD card impacts performance of the phone. Especially if it gets corrupted and the removable battery while I like the feature I consider something that must be avoided. Users abuse of this negatively impacting the OEM. If I can change the battery I for sure will buy a spare. I will buy the cheapest one and a cheapest recharger. In the end I'll damage both batteries and the phone by using cheap chargers and batteries. Then I'll send the phone to be replaced and do it again. SD card may be something nice ignoring it's drawbacks but the batteries should not be removable.
  • satisfied owner of Ativ S.
    You mention as negative that it is very easy to accidentally press the home button. That is not my personal experience at all.
    A correction to the article please: the Lumia 800 has an Amoled,  NOT Super Amoled. Thanks
  • +10
  • I had the chance to play a bit with the Ativ S at a BestBuy store and I have to admit that I was really surprised by this phone. The experience I had with it was far better than what I expected. I still went with the Lumia 920 because the design is unique and all the other great features that everybody know but the Ativ S is not a complete fail by Samsung. 
  • someone told me that large tile weather app on the phone was weather flow and that was not the app, i really want that app for my phone, does anybody know what weather app that is? it is a large live tile with 5 day forecast on one side and todays weather on the other side of tile
  • Another nice feature on the Ativ S is that you can wake the phone by pressing the Windows Home button.
  • I've got the Canadaian Version (LTE) of the ATIV, and I gotta say, I'm impressed.  It was my first foray into WP, and for me the choice was Expandable memory & Removable battery vs. better camera in the 920, so I went Samsung.  I'll admit to being a bit miffed when I encountered the Lumia (timed-)exclusive apps, and as a sales person I warn potential customers of that experience, but it's a small price to pay for the choice.  I love the speeds in it (both download and responsiveness), and I've yet to experience any troubles with the (comparatively stunted) Bluetooth. 
    I should also say that I've never "accidentally" hit the screen instead of the Windows button on the phone.  Either the reviewers have different shaped hands than I, or they aren't using the raised embossing on and around the key to help distinguish the key from the screen.  I imagine lazy thumbs that drag across the screen toward the button may have issues, but I'm guessing that it's less of an issue than the reviewers make it out to be.
  • In what way could it have been so much more?
  • does anybody know what weather app that is on the start screen?
  • Sorry man, I tried looking through the (7) other weather apps I've tried, and couldn't find a match.  If you play with the WeatherFlow settings, you can get pretty close, but apparently not an identical match to the title image.
  • The SGH-T899M is LTE Band IV (AWS-1700/2100). There is no 700 MHz Support-which means no LTE support for AT&T except in those few markets where they use Band IV.
  • Long live the ATIV S
  • You know what? This device has slipped under most people's radar in Indonesia. Its pre-order news could not be found on major news outlet, unlike Nokia and even HTC. It's not even mentioned in their website or their socmed posts. This is seriously a very undermining act by Samsung on Windows Phone.
    The biggest news Sammy didn't let everyone know? The price. Ativ S is priced for only 515 USD unlocked. Compare that to HTC 8X at 595 USD and Lumia 920 at 670 USD.
    I hate Sammy but at this price, it looks like this is the one I would get to replace my Omnia 7.... sigh*
  • Samsung is in a rather odd position, I love Samsung ATIV S! This is really awesome, Nice to see. There are a number of accessories available for the ATIV S.
  • Another creative one from SAMSUNG. I prefer this phone because it is much more flat to use, operator friendly concept, support most recent verson of windows, intelligence camera and much more...........
  • Nokia Lumia 720 is another mid-range Windows Phone 8 device, with a typical Nokia unibody design coming in different vibrant colors. The Nokia Lumia 720 has a 4.3” ClearBlack LCD display with a curved glass and super sensitive touch that you can use with gloves. It has a brilliant camera with extremely large aperture of f/1.9 that allows a lot of light in resulting in great low-light performance. The camera is 6.7-megapixel, with backside-illumination and auto-focus, built with a Carl Zeiss lens.
    This phone is just great. As like other samsung mobile is also awesome. its 4.8 inch display and thin and slim body gives it new look. I just love this phone.
  • Acctualy I prefer SAMSUNG for it's Accessories . Its accessoris are so good. I feel comfort to use them.
  • That is a quality product by Samsung company .This is basically windows Phones .It has many useful software and feature. This product gives to user in modern facilities. It has awesome Bluetooth services from 3.0 to 2.1.Display are more wide that other .Graphics quality is so pretty.
  • I am going to buy a mobile phone. I think , this is prefect for me. Nice body shape. It has 8 mp camera. So , i don't need to buy any extra camera. I think , i will enjoy it.
  • Samsung is one of the most valuable brand throughout the world. Worlds every person desire to get a Samsung smartphone because of its brand name and quality. There are some uniqe features in this phone which differs this phone to another.this features are hardly be seen to another. Samsung smartphone also used as a songs play station,ebooks audiobooks,watching television and playing various types of online games etc.internet browsing is so much faster than other phones. Thanks
  • Damn
  • Samsung is popular brand name. We know that they like to provide more features and new designs in their model. I