A weekend with the Samsung Ativ S

After pondering a switch from iOS to either Android or Windows Phone 8 for a while I finally gave in last week and got myself a Samsung Ativ S.

Basically, the screen of my iPhone 4S is now too small for my aging eyes and I find myself “bored” with iOS. One of the advantages of my current work is that I get to play with different phones and operating systems. Most of the work is currently focussed on Android phones, so it would have made sense to switch to that operating system. But again, I find Android “boring” and the different UI flavours from the various vendors just leave me confused.

We’re also currently working on WP8 projects and I recently got to play with the HTC 8X. I really liked the look and feel of the Windows 8 operating system (and the device is nice and thin) – but what about actually using one?

I chose the Samsung Ativ S based on reading some reviews and on the fact that it was the only Windows Phone I hadn’t yet actually played with. No risk no gain – right?

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Setting the phone up was easy enough. I registered a “live.com” account and then proceeded to add my existing Google and work email accounts. I also added my Twitter and Facebook accounts. What I really liked was being able to link people’s accounts – so I could link my daughter’s Facebook account with her contacts account, giving me an easy to access view on all her contact details.

I’m not too fond of reading posts via the people hub and so installed the official Twitter app. When it comes to Facebook, the app of choice seems to be “The Facebook” and it works well.

In all I found WP 8 apps for most of the things I do on a phone – your mileage will vary. I can read and send email, keep up with BBC news, read my Google Reader news using RSS Times, there’s DB Bahn app for my train journeys, gMaps for using Google Maps, WPArea for following news from the WP8 world – and more.

Unfortunately, there’s no Instagram app yet on WP8. While I used it briefly on my iPhone and later deleted it – my family have now started using Instagram on their iPhones – and of course I can’t participate. I also miss the Flipboard app which would really go well with the large screen on the Ativ S. As far as I could see, Google+ is another service that isn’t supported on WP8 – you have to use the browser version. Speaking of services, the main drawback to switching from iOS to WP8 is that you may be used to certain Apple specific services that just aren’t there on WP8 (Find my friends and Photo Stream to name 2 that we use quite regularly). If you are used to flipping on the Apple TV and seeing new photos that were automatically uploaded via Photo Stream – then of course you are going to miss that. You are in for a couple of “oh right, that won’t work any more” if you switch.

Also, the HTC 8X is nicer looking than the Ativ. If you’re looking for a business-style phone then the Ativ is fine. If you want something a bit more “colourful” then check out the Lumia 920 or HTC 8X.

After a weekend of using the Ativ S, I find myself missing the iPhone less and less. The screen on the Ativ is nice and bright and large enough for me to read – even without glasses. I have all the apps I need – yes a few more would be cool. The operating system is slick and small things like linking accounts of live-tiles just make it that slightly more attractive to me at the moment. 

I haven’t really tested the Ativ properly in day-2-day usage yet, so an update to this article will  follow.

And of course, if Apple does eventually bring out that larger iPhone – well then … who knows….

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