Channel 5

Samsung Ativ S

Thursday 10 January 2013


Rating of 3

The basics

It’s half a year behind, but with the Samsung Ativ S, the South Korean giant has finally come up with a Windows Phone version of its smash hit Galaxy S3 phone. Like its Android powered brother, it sports a 4.8-inch Super AMOLED HD display, and runs on a whizzy dual-core 1.5GHz processor, while an eight megapixel camera capable of shooting HD video lurks around the back. But is Windows Phone 8 really a worthy substitute for Google’s mobile OS? Let’s take a look.

The good

The Samsung Ativ S may not be the most striking of Windows Phones - in between Nokia and HTC’s colourful efforts you could easily overlook it - but when it comes to hardware, it’s easily our favourite. For its large size, it’s incredibly light and thin (just 135g), with well placed buttons that are still easy to reach. It looks like a cross between a Samsung Galaxy S3 and a Samsung Galaxy Note 2, and that’s no bad thing. The display meanwhile is mesmerising: the HD resolution makes it pin sharp, and the vivid colours Samsung’s Super AMOLED tech produces really make the colourful tiles of the Windows Phone homescreen stand out.

The bad

We can’t really fault the Samsung Ativ S for its hardware: it may not be as striking as the Nokia Lumia 920, nor possess the same fantastic PureView camera, but it’s also a full third lighter, and not nearly as fat. The software is where the issues lie. We’re not going to linger on Windows Phone 8 itself: unlike Android, its core doesn’t vary between devices since Microsoft doesn’t let manufacturers tinker with it. It’s fast, power-sipping, easy to use and colourful, but it still lacks the apps and excellent web browsers of Apple and Google’s platforms. Be sure to check out our full review of it to find out if it’s for you. If it is, you still need to consider whether the Samsung Ativ S is the right choice for you. Phone makers can’t change Windows Phone, but they can provide their own exclusive apps for it, and Samsung’s are a little lazy. There’s a “Now” app which shows you the weather and Yahoo! News reports, a basic image editor and a Music Hub where you can buy songs for download - except it’s powered by 7digital, which has an app for Windows Phone anyway. It’s a meagre selection compared to the exclusive apps you’ll find on a Nokia Lumia Windows Phone, particularly the super Nokia Music free streaming app, and the utterly essential Nokia Drive, a free satnav app with maps for the entire world you can download in advance. Samsung’s rubbish calendar app does little to make up for this. It’s a shame, as a Samsung Windows Phone with Nokia’s extras would be a dream come true for many.

The bottom line

The Samsung Ativ S doesn’t push the boat out when it comes to build like the Nokia Lumia 920, but its big, gorgeous display and light weight make it the most comfortable of the top notch Windows Phone 8 blowers so far. Sadly, Samsung’s phoned in the software: until someone can come up with mapping software to rival Nokia’s, our advice remains the same: if you’re going to go with a Windows Phone, it needs to be a Lumia. Samsung Ativ S available to buy at Expansys
Currys Top Products

Samsung Ativ S is tagged with Samsung, Ativ S, Windows Phone 8 and Windows Phone. Select a tag (Samsung, for example) to find everything on The Gadget Show about the subject.

User comments (1)

Leave a comment

This comment has been removed.

Join Channel 5

Creating an account is free, will only take a few moments and will allow you to enjoy the full benefits of 5FWD and Channel 5:

  • Create lists of your most wanted and owned products
  • Leave article comments without having to re-enter your login details
  • Get updated with all the latest gadget and car news

Leave a comment

Please note that we will not expose your email, but we might use it to email you back. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.
* mandatory field

  • Samsung Gear 2

    Samsung's back with its brand new Gear 2 smartwatch, the successor to the fatally flawed original…

  • LG 55EA980W

    Curved TVs are said to be the next big thing in television tech for your living room, but do they…

  • Bissell Vac & Steam 1132E

    Meet the Bissell Vac & Steam 1132E, the final contender in our steam mop showdown with an integrated…

  • Vax S86-SF-P

    The Vax S86-SF-P makes up the third choice in our steam mop showdown, but is it worthy of wearing…

  • Lakeland Steam Mop

    Which steam mop is the top choice for your spring cleaning? We put four to the test, including the…

  • Russell Hobbs Steam & Clean

    We’ve got a steam mop showdown on the show this week, and we headed to the SS Great Britain in…

  • Beats by Dre Studio Wireless

    When you think of headphones these days, you probably immediately think of the monster brand that is…

  • Samsung Galaxy S5

    The Samsung Galaxy S5, the latest and greatest flagship phone from the South Korean electronics…

  • NetGear VueZone VZSX2800

    The NetGear VueZone VZSX2800 could be the ideal home security system, with a couple of wireless…

  • PhoneJoy game controller

    Physical controllers on Android may not be a massive deal anymore, but there's always room for new…