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Samsung Ativ S: hands-on

It’s been a long time coming, but we finally got some hands-on time with Samsung’s elusive Windows Phone 8 device. the company announced the Samsung Ativ S at IFA in Berlin earlier this year, but aside from the company’s presentation, the handset was nowhere to be found on the show floor. Thankfully at the Windows Phone 8 launch event last night in central London, Microsoft inviting the Korean manufacturer alongside HTC and Nokia so that they could all showcase their first Windows Phone 8 handsets.

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You’d be forgiven for mistaking the Ativ S for the Samsung Galaxy S3 at distance and indeed the design shares many similarities, with a faux brushed metal aesthetic and the expansive 4.8-inch screen. In the flesh the Ativ S is a very attractive handset and will likely appeal to business users as it opts for a conservative design in comparison to the colourful offerings from HTC and Nokia. Despite its size, it’s a slim, comfortable handset to use and it slots in a jeans pocket without feeling noticeably bulky. Also a special mention has to go to the double detent dedicated hardware camera key, something its Android equivalent and the other Galaxy S flagships have always lacked.

The Ativ S has a capable skill set on the hardware side, but Samsung haven’t made use of Windows Phone 8 to quite the same depth as Nokia for example. The unique features that we were shown included real-time camera lenses which produce different effects during photos and video recording, the inclusion of ChatON, Samsung’s own cross-platform messaging application and the Samsung Hub: a service which offers, stocks, weather and news alongside handy lightweight apps like a currency converter.

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Going back to the hardware on offer, the Samsung Ativ S uses the same 1.5GHz dual-core processor as both of Nokia’s new Windows Phone 8 devices and the HTC 8X, tied into 1GB of RAM, an 8-megapixel camera on the back and a 1.9-megapixel camera on the front all of which culminates in a fast, functional device. Windows Phone 8 also makes the user experience particularly enjoyable and fluidity through the tiles and apps as always is top notch.

It feels as if Samsung are catering to a different market with the Ativ S relative to the Windows Phone 8-based competition and their strong footing in the Android camp may actually help brand-loyal consumers try this latest piece of Samsung hardware, particularly as it offers a shiny new OS to play with.

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