Here's what I said back in January:
If there's one underlying theme in the smartphone industry, it's that every device is compromised in some way. Whether in hardware, in the OS or in add-on software, no one device and system rules them all, which is why sites like this are needed to point out the trade-offs and potential disappointments.
Not that there are too many of the latter with the Samsung ATIV S, which is a truly impressive smartphone whose only real weak point is that it's not blessed with the Nokia software bundle that each Lumia comes with. Of which more later, though note that most of this can be fixed with a few commercial purchases in the Windows Phone Store, if necessary.
Ostensibly a clone of Samsung's Galaxy S III, in fact the form factor has a very different case shape and many of the components are in different places, leading me to conclude that the ATIV S was inspired by, rather than being a copy of, the best-selling Galaxy S III. Certainly the corners are more traditionally rounded and the design looks (thankfully) a little more conservative - perhaps Samsung considers itself safer here from Apple's lawyers on Windows Phone, since the interface on this OS is so utterly unique...
...Flip the ATIV S over and there are unexpected delights in the finish and materials used by Samsung. The Galaxy S III had a gloss plastic that never really convinced in terms of quality - the ATIV S has, in principle, the same plastic rear, but the finish chosen is the most incredibly realistic faux-brushed stainless steel. With Samsung's usual accomplished fit for the cover (the ATIV S is very solid in the hand), the only clue you get that the back of this phone isn't metal is the temperature and feel to your fingers - real steel would feel cold, whereas the plastic feels like.... well, plastic. But in terms of looks, the ATIV S case is simply stunning.
Set in the faux-metal is a single LED flash (as usual, disappointing for camera work, but useful as an LED torch, with a suitable freeware utility), alongside the 8 megapixel camera. There are some photo samples below, essentially performance is identical to that of the Galaxy S III here, a standard 1/3" BSI sensor with mature image processing software. Photos aren't up to the levels of quality and detail of the Symbian-based Nokia N8 and 808, and there's obviously heavy image processing going on, but (the Nokia Lumia 920's OIS-aside) this is about as good as it gets for a device with no camera specialism.
I stand by almost all my earlier review comments and am tempted to pronounce, at £245 SIM-free, the ATIV S an even bigger bargain now as when I championed the Lumia 620 at £130 on pay-as-you-go around the same time.
Here's what the Expansys site has to say about the device:
Hoping to convert Android fan boys and dedicated Apple iOS users, the Ativ S is a serious contender in the bloated smartphone market. Not only is there the fantastic new Windows 8 on board with all the top specs but as Windows TeamBlog described it, "The ATIV S is flat-out beautiful". Samsung have moved away from their usual plastic affair, garnished on the Galaxy and Note range, and have used Apple-esque brushed aluminium instead, the result is a classy looking handset. Also it has a slim 8.9mm profile and weighs in at 135g so it won't weigh down your pocket.
The Ativ S sports a whopping 4.8 inch, super AMOLED screen which is layered with the latest Corning Gorilla Glass 2. This means you have a tough but gorgeous HD screen that does those vibrant Windows 8 live tiles justice. A 1.5GHz processor lurks underneath, along with 1GB of RAM so that tile interface should be buttery smooth to use. 16GB of storage is built in (expandable for up to 32GB) and there's a respectable 8MP camera on the back which can record full HD video, as well as a front facing camera for video calls. Samsung seemed to have heard people cries for longer battery life on smartphones so have given the Ativ a large 2,300 mAh sized battery (enormous compared to the iPhone 4S paltry 1,432 mAh battery). All in all the Ativ S is a stunning and exciting package that could well be the phone that cracks the Android and iPhone reign.
Features you'll love:
- HD Super AMOLED 4.8 inch display
- Windows 8 - fresh new operating system with live tiles
- 8MP Camera with LED flash - 1.9MP snapper on the front
- 16GB Storage - microSD (up to 32GB)
- Large 2300 mAh battery
Excellent deal, and I can see several AAWP readers picking this up, especially with reports from around the Interwebs that Samsung is currently issuing updates for the ATIV S's firmware. Comments welcome if you're tempted to pick one up too!