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Samsung ATIV S unboxing and hands-on

It's here, it's finally here! Well, almost anyway. The Samsung ATIV S does actually exist and is starting to hit markets as we head into 2013. We've managed to get hold of a unit, thanks to Clove UK (opens in new tab), and have taken a few shots while using the Windows Phone for a fair few hours. Our initial thoughts? It's a solid smartphone.

Samsung's AMOLED displays never fail to impress when properly implemented and the ATIV S is no exception. Colours are sharp, contrast is superb and overall performance, responsiveness and clarity is simply stunning. While the actual display itself is a whopping 4.8" (be sure to invest in some new pants to fit the handset in), it doesn't suffer from lower quality results.

The Windows Phone is both thin and light (only 135g and 8.7mm thin), which is surprising when the specification sheet is analysed - particularly the 2,300mAh battery. A dual-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 chip powers the system, while 1GB RAM and 16 / 32GB internal storage ensures enough memory is presently available. 

All the bells and whistles are featured in the ATIV S, including NFC, Bluetooth and WiFi. The rear shooter is an 8MP camera with auto-focus and LED flash, while the front-facing camera is a 1.9MP. Samsung has also bundled a number of apps with the Windows Phone, these include: ChatON, Family Story, MiniDiary, Music Hub, Now and Photo Editor.

Check out the device in action with our quick visual walkthrough below.

We're happy with what Samsung has delivered and believe the ATIV S to be a worthy Windows Phone that's definitely going to accumulate fans. The expandable storage, impressive display technology and overall design will win consumers over who are struggling to choose between Windows Phone flagships.

We'll have a full, in-depth review up soon. In the meantime, check out more photos below (click each to view larger version).

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds is 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 over on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

  • Those images that are posted sure are crappy! You didn't take those with a L920 did you??
  • ?? Look fine to do drugs?
  • Only crack, meth, Krylon, ice, shrooms, coke, pills, PCP, solvent, and acid... But, I don't drink because that stuff impairs your vision, and it'll kill you!
  • LOL
  • looks fine full size , but tiny they look a bit dark.
  • Looks to me no flash was used. So they are pretty good considering that..
  • Right. Not to bad without flash.
  • cannot agree with you more. stuck with plastic, no fashion. Totaly copy of GS3
  • Looks nothing like the Galaxy S 3.
  • Really? Except the home button and the internal OS, it is totally the copy of GS3
  • Didn't mean to exaggerate that it looks nothing like it, but the front looks different, the back looks almost the same tho. Lol.
  • Nah, 3310 - but used it after a software upgrade of course.
  • LOL
  • I take it you have the WPCentral app set to download images in low quality when you don't have WiFi?
  • Yeah you guys are right. They look fine. The images seem to look better when I select them from the menu, not click on the from the article..
  • Are you saying that Lumia 920's camera is crappy? what phone are you using? ANSWER!
  • I'm using the HTC OneX because Android devices are better in every way than any WP device!!... Just joking.. Lol! I'm using a shiny red L920.. That's why I was asking if they were taken by the 920 because I know it can do better than that... Funny story... This weekend, while at the bar, once everyone saw how good my 920 took pictures in low light they all were asking me to take pictures of everyone and send them to their iPhones, GS2's, and GS3's.. They didn't even want to use their phones anymore!! Nokia kicks ass with the 920,, I'm so proud!
  • This is an awesome story. Would have loved the L920 when I used to frequent the bars. It would have illuminated all those skanky bar flies for all the goodness.
  • Lol..Right!! Well, I'm recently single so I'm going to get a lot of use out of it..
  • Why didn't Nokia include this on the spec sheet! Picking up women is something that other phones just can't do..
  • Awesome story. Hope you promoted windows phone. You might be the next Ben Rudolph!
  • If you go over to the WP blog you will see that I have the most comments, even more than Michael Stroh himself. I have been personally called by the drivers of the Cafè Mango trucks to meet them in specific locations here in Dallas to help promote WP. The WP team has sent me numerous WP collectibles in the mail, including t-shirts, posters, note pads, stickers.. Really, I have a huge collection of WP stuff. I have attended both the WP night out party, and have been to Microsoft's corporate technology center in Irving Texas for the Lumia 900 event where I gave input to WP team Members, and Nokia representatives. Not to mention the numerous people I have turned on to the platform. Honestly, IMHO I do consider myself the biggest WP fan! If you know of somebody else whose bigger tell me because I would like to shake their hand. Lol
  • I love the energy in your comments dude, keep it up.
  • Lol!! Nice!! :)
  • I also also have a OneXp. I find it not bad but I do prefer my 8X. Wish I could buy a WP with 64Gb.
  • <p>I couldn&#39;t agree more! lol</p>
  • The screen is so bright! Then the rest looks dark. I find the pictures very good cause the AMOLED screen is so hard to take a picture of.
  • I couldn't agree more! lol
  • First One!!!!!!!
  • Fail
  • Ahahaha! I love it when that happens
  • HaHa, I would say :P
  • I have been waiting for this great phone! My US contract is up in Feb., just in time for the US arrival!
  • Me too....
  • I retured my 920 and waiting for this one. 920 was great but too bulky for me, I could not make peace with it.
  • Lol, so an even larger phone will be less bulky?
  • larger screen, not larger phone. not to mention Ativ is thiner and lighter.
  • Good luck getting software support from Samsung, to them windows phone is a side project they can stop anytime. Nokia are in the game for the long run.
  • Wah wah wah. Updates will be fine on the ATIV S. I have a 920 from AT&T and honestly I'm a little disappointed with it. I want a larger screen and my proximity sensor is broken (pretty common issue on the 920). I might get it replaced (I'll get a refurb for a phone I bought just a little over a month ago) and get the ATIV S if AT&T picks it up or I can manage to find it unlocked for cheap on eBay.
  • The Ativ is over a 1cm taller, a bit wider I think too in the order of a mm or two, but ~2mm thinner, so overall its a bigger phone.
    If you don't like big phones then I think the 920 and ATIV won't be your thing, I would really like to see Nokia drop the size of the 820 next time around to 4" (or release a new 700 series to fit that gap).  But they do seem pretty nimble when it comes to releasing new phones these days.
  • I just want go ahead and throw this out there. Thank you Nokia for not putting external memory (sd slot) in the Lumia 920. The less ports the better. Unibody is the best way to go. Ok, I'm done.
  • you are joking right?
  • Dude, removable battery and expandable storage, chill out.
  • The design may be better but the advantage is there for the Ativ S.
  • Dude, stop it.  That's rediculous.  I have the 920, and the main things I do not like about it is the non-expandable storage.  And it's weight.
    I'm just slightly happy that no US carrier has picked up the ATIV S, as it makes me not have to wonder if I should have gotten that instead of the 920.  Not that I'm regretting the 920 outright, but it'd be a close call compared to the ATIV S.
  • I still think the Lumia has a better design than the Ativ...did I say I love my 920!
  • Meh
  • Did you just say "gorgeous?" C'mon lol. Samsung have some of the ugliest, least imaginative aesthetics on the market. It's definitely a phone for the style-challenged. You want beauty? Look to European design... specifically the various Nokia Lumias, especially the 920.
  • Completely subjective. The ATIV S is a superb smartphone to hold and look at.
  • The AVIV was the first WP8 device I fell in love with when it was anounced and my heart was set on it...until I played with it on display and it just felt too plastically and cheap with it's feel and fake chrome look, although It wasn't a problem with my Focus, but playing with the Lumia 920 kind of raised my standards. It's again personal preference, but I was totally surprised I didn't buy the phone I went in to buy after obsessing over it for so long, but was won over by Nokia.
  • I can agree that this completely subjective, even though I think their design is boring they do make magnificent screens.  I had both of the first Galaxy S phones and enjoyed them quite a bit, though the cheap plastic has always annoyed me.  The Galaxy S III seems to be of somewhat better/sturdier build than the it's predecessors, though it still isn't on par with the likes of the Nokia Lumia line of phones.
    I'd also like to point out that their phones have a very dejavu look to them, they dont really bring much new to the table in terms of design.  The past few years you've had iPhones and their clones (Samsung you there?), HTC's phones (most notably the One X", the Lumia line and a slew of very similar android devices (many resemble Samsung phones) Though yea, I think its an utterly boring phone that's flimsy/cheap.  I want something that's solid and gives a sense of quality when you pick it up, though that's just my opinion of course. Edit: Galaxy S I and II where my last two phones, now I'm rocking a Nokia Lumia 920.   I know a lot of people love Samsung's design so it's good to see that they're releasing a WP8 phone. :)
  • 2 words... Fake. Chrome.
  • I happen to love the design. Even more so if the metallic finish was actually made of the real materials and not plastic.
  • I have to agree with Rich here. I was planning to buy and unlock a Rogers 920 to use on my Bell plan with my income tax return, and likely still will, but then my HD7 stopped taking a charge, so I got the Ativ S on an early upgrade, and it is a beautiful, premium-feeling device, that is much less bulky than the 920 in spite of the larger screen. I'm typing this on it, and I've given a more in-depth review in the forums. Battery life is superb, too.
  • premium feeling - that's exactly what did NOT come to my mind when I held it for the first time, sorry :)
    enough trolling, enjoy Your new WP8 :)
  • Is everyone who disagrees with you a troll?
  • actually I was refering to myself as a troll :)
  • Come on T-Mo US....announce this already!
  • +100.000.000
  • I'm with you. Nokia gave us the little brother again. I'm tired of that treatment. T-Mobile we need this one.
  • I was interested in this phone before the launch, but I am glad that I went with the 920.
  • Rich, just remember what I said about the ATIV S. Jiffy bag> :)
  • Is that a GS3? Oh my bad it just looks the same just like most of Samsung devices. I will stay with my 920.
  • They look the same because that is the current design model they use. All companies do this. GS3 is incredibly successful and much of that is the design.
  • GS3 is sucessfull among spec-whores, android-fanboys and people who don't know any better and just blindly follow the former crowd.
    No person of taste and sane mind likes the cheap plastic toy design of the GS3.
  • ^THIS! +9999
    Exactly what is on my mind!
  • Received mine today, totally worth the wait. I have now put 2 year old Omnia 7 into retirement.
  • Got my new Samsung ATIV S last Friday -- launch day for this phone on TELUS on Canada. It's a very nice phone. Big screen, great performance, battery is awesome, camera is great (much better than I expected), yet very light and thin. Oh, and although I liked the sturdy unibody design of my previous Lumia 800, I now prefer having the option to replace the battery and add storage. I don't feel handcuffed any more.
  • Since it's the only WP8 at Telus, I've decided to love it.  Actually, I also checked out the dummy version and it looks and feels great.
  • Snapdragon S2? Lol
  • Is Apple going to sue because they kind of placed a border around the home button?
  • Hahaha!
  • comments:
    1. handset gets warm when charging & it seems to discharge if you use it while charging..  
    2. handset doesn't get warm in regular use, unlike the 920 which seems to generate heat if you are using programs like Beem Plus, or internet games like Words with Draw Something.
    3. Default automatic brightness is set to LOW.  I set the screen brightness manually to Medium for best settings; high seems overkill.  
    4. Default settings for Text and Email notifications are set to none.  Easy to update these in 'settings'.  
    5. Crashes: No system crashes from playing the new Zynga games.  However, it refused to complete the WPBench test upon first run and I had to force restart, but then it completed fine; I got a 232 rating (slightly lower than my 920).
  • Hopefully the comments wont be filled with '920 is better' posts, and the discussion will be more constructive.
  • Says the person who just the other day said that the 8X is a subpar experience.
  • Link please, do you have your facts straight?
  • Yes I do, I'm actually surprised you responded this time. You usually have nothing to say everytime I call you out for saying something stupid.
    Here's the link:
  • Says the person who is ironically HTCrap fanboy and only care about its trivia sound enhancer on the phone...
  • Nokia 920 is better. :-)
  • You can get this phone everywhere in Ontario, canada, no matter the carrier. They all seem to have them in stock.
    Had I not been so impatient I would have picked this over the 920. Just for the expandable memory and bigger screen.
  • snapdragon s2 or s4?
  • S4. Typo
  • Correct, fixed.
  • It looks great until you turn it on. The design and grey bezel doesn't flow with the WP-ui at all. Far from gorgeous imo.
  • Unless you have the theme set to steel
  • So you are stuck with steel theme for you to enjoy it?
  • I'm quite happy with the cyan theme I'm currently using.
  • I had an S3 and now i have the 920, which i just love. Beautiful design and the build quality is just top notch.. The ativ looks boring and cheap.
  • S2*
  • My cyan Lumia 900 will beat that!
  • I am actually using the Ativ S and the Lumia 920 parallel about a week and have to say that Ativ S is better to handle, despite the bigger size. Don't get me wrong, I love my Lumia, it's a beautiful device. But if I have to write a email or browse the web for a longer time, I choose the Ativ S.
  • There are so many STUPID Windows Phone fans. Supposedly they want the platform to succeed but they're always dissing non-Nokia phones. I have a 920 but the Ativ S sports some impressive hardware, we should be happy to have it in the Windows Phone lineup. Remember the poor hardware we used to get under Windows Phone 7, morons!
  • Well said. The most important thing is the platform not who makes a better handset. As long as people buy a WP8 mobile then they'll be models to fit everyone's taste. Personally I think the Ativ S looks great and will wait with profuse enthusiasm for a WPCentral review then I will decide which model I will upgrade my Lumia 900 to.
  • Now you finally see the point. People deserve to be called out.
  • +1. This is ides that a WIndows Phone fan should have in mind. we should welcome more manufacturers enter this field with their handsets so that WP8 can be a better and more popluar OS than Android. We should welcome Samsung, HTC, and APPLE as possible. :)
  • +1
  • Not sure if I'd call people stupid and moronic. But I agree this "Us vs. Them" mentality is counterproductive
  • You are wrong. I've seen plenty of HTC-fanboys with low self esteem about themselves and the device they have chosen. Sure those Nokia-fanboys can be very annoying some times, but HTC owners are as bad(or worse actually) as well. Luckily AtivS doesn't seem to have any fans. Atleast not yet..
  • Is ATT getting this? Never paid attention because I wanted 920. Now that I have 920, I can't wait to be rid of it. Epic fail from Nokia. Function over form for me. Samsung does make some ugly phones, but at least they work. Pos just locked up again during post.
  • I don't think it will. But you could try and get it unlocked =)
  • Samsung work? I had a Samsung vibrant and a simple GPS doesn't work even with replacement the same issue and being an Android it lags and freezes.
  • Stop blaming nokia for your defective unit... My Lumia 920 never locked up. Anyway in case you have been living under a rock , there is a firmware update coming tomorrow that will fix any instability problems you may be having.
  • You don't want him to blame the manufacturer of a product...for the defectiveness of said product? Interesting.
  • If you get a defective product you can't blame the manufacturer unless a significant number of the phones are shipping defective. It is impossible for a manufacturer not to ship some defective phones especially when they are ready way behind schedule and its a brand new phone. So,as long as you can easily get your phone replaced for a working one it is ridiculous to blame the manufacturer
  • Battery life sucks and I've tried everything short of hard reset which has been known to lock up phone. I can't use any features and make it through the day on one charge. Haven't seen a Nokia exclusive app that didn't cause problems. My phone doesn't freeze all the time. Happens about once a week. Camera was over hyped. I have Moto Razr Max with better camera day and night. And its 2 yr old tech. I don't like to post edit all my pics to remove glowing eyes and soft appearence. I'm sold on WP8, W8 and RT. Love my Surface but 920 has more problems than its worth. So yes, its Nokia's problem. I'll wait and read the reviews next time. I've owned iPhone 3gs, BB9810, and Razr Max. They all have better battery life with 1-2 yrs on battery than Nokia out of the box. I can accept a few problems but for $450, this phone has been a huge disappointment. And from the looks of the forums mine is not a defect. It seems to be the norm. Hope Nokia gets it figured out. The phone looks amazing but it doesn't live up to my expectations. Function over form.
  • i will say it again, whatever problems you are having with your battery will obviously be resolved with the upcomming firmware update or you have a defective phone. how do I know this? I know this because my lumia 920 lasts easily through a day with heavy use. Last´s much longer than my lumia 900 ever did. "Haven´t seen a nokia exclusive app that didn´t cause problems" really? Either you are making up stuff or you are the only person on earth that is experiencing problems with nokias apps which are ALL rated 5 stars in the marketplace and are trully excellent. "moto razr max with better camera day and night" this is so ridiculous it pretty much shows that you are making stuff up... it´s pretty common knowledge by now that NO PHONE can beat the lumia 920 in low light photos, not even the mighty 808 let alone your moto razr. From the forum´s 2 things are pretty clear: First only a few people are having these problems. Secondly the great majority of them seem to be from ATT 920´s, which leads me to believe that it´s a firmware problem. Either way after the firmware update let me know how your phone is performing.
  • I'm glad your experience has been great. If I based my opinion off of your experience I would have to blindly love 920. But I don't. It is from my experience. I don't have a defective phone. My problems are no where near as bad as some I have read here. If update doesn't fix, I will return it and probably end up with a phone with same problems as some here have done. And then it will get retired to a drawer somewhere. If update fixes problems, then I will only be mildly disappointed.  I purchased a flagship phone.  I didn't purchase low end junk. I have  OS that I really like but can't use due to the hardware/software issues of Nokia product. So who is at fault if not Nokia?  It is their half baked software. It's not MS issue as my Surface works like a dream. Possibly ATT as it wouldn't be the first time. You can be a fanboy and take every critique as a personal insult, but I'm a realist and I'm a little disappointed at this point with 920. And yes the camera is better in low light on my Razr. Why? Because I don't have to mess with the settings to make it work. Point, click, done. 920 required trial and error to get best results and I still have to post edit pics to remove glowing eyes. I'm no photographer. I want point and click and done. The only Nokia apps I tried were Nokia Maps, Nokia Music, City lens and Drive. Drive is useless and battery issues, Bing Maps is much faster and finds what I'm looking for. Nokia music, why when there is Xbox music and City lens caused constant freeze. So, if you want to be a blind fanboy, by all means. I'll stick with what works and the 920 doesn't. For me anyway.