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Hands-on with the elusive Windows Phone 8 Samsung ATIV S

Microsoft has been pretty coy about letting its upcoming Windows Phone 8 devices off the leash, so we haven't seen much about them. Here's a glimpse of the ATIV S - essentially the Galaxy S III, with a different OS.
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By Ben Woods, Senior reporter on
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1 of 5 Ben Woods/ZDNet

Make no mistake; Samsung isn't taking a huge chance here. The Windows Phone 8 ATIV S is essentially the Samsung Galaxy S3, but running Microsoft's newest mobile OS.

While that's unlikely to win over Android fans, it could well prove appealing to the platform-neutral (or indifferent) contingent. I dare say Windows fans could well be impressed.

Hardware-wise, the phone (Samsung GT-I8750, to use its formal name) is no slouch with a 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED touchscreen, 1.5GHz dual-core processor, and 1GB of RAM on board to keep it ticking along nicely. From my limited time testing the device, it did just that - opening several apps and browsing without lag.

It's also about the same depth as the Galaxy S3 too, at just 8.7mm thick (pictured). The Galaxy S3 is 8.6mm thick.

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2 of 5 Ben Woods/ZDNet

The cameras on the ATIV S are pretty well specified too, with an 8-megapixel one on the rear and a 1.9-megapixel front-facing one for HD video calling.

While it does have on-board photo editing capabilities (pictured), I did find myself missing some of the more advanced photo features found on the Nokia Lumia 920 and 820, even if these are a bit of a novelty.

Storage is provided in 16GB or 32GB capacities and can be augmented through use of a microSD card. This is a good thing. I've seen too many Windows Phones lately that don't provide for expansion, including the Lumia 920 (thankfully the 820 does). There's also 7GB of free SkyDrive storage too.

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3 of 5 Ben Woods/ZDNet

Microsoft has been very secretive about some of the features of Windows Phone 8, ahead of the curtain officially being lifted on Monday 29 October. But I did manage to get a quick look at the new 'Wallet' feature native to the upcoming mobile OS.

Sadly it had not been pre-populated for the demo (pictured).

Wallet, which in part can use NFC technology for things like payments, is the new home of anything payment-related in Windows Phone 8. So any locally available deals, loyalty cards, in-app purchases, credit and debit cards and contactless payment details are all stored here.

Windows Phone 8 will also be able to use NFC for features like 'Tap + Send', for sharing content with another phone - much like the Android Beam feature introduced in Ice Cream Sandwich. 

 

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4 of 5 Ben Woods/ZDNet

The app store on the ATIV S and Windows Phone 8 looks much like the store found in the current version of the mobile OS. However, the handset maker has added a 'Samsung Zone' section, which includes many of the apps that come pre-installed, such as ChatOn, Music Hub and Photo Editor.

However, it's not exactly the same as the Windows Phone 7.0 and 7.5 versions; it introduces an app overview screen which provides visual shortcuts to sections of the store, such as 'best rated', 'top free', 'top paid', and 'collections' (pictured).

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5 of 5 Ben Woods/ZDNet

In addition to the Windows Phone 8 store, I also managed to get a glimpse of a feature called Children's Corner.

Children's Corner is another of the features we've only really heard about a few times before this point. In essence, it's a way for parents to feel secure in handing their phone to their child without having to worry about what might happen, as they can be in control of what functions, apps, or even videos and music on the phone they have access to.

Naturally, concerns about hardware damage inflicted by young children will most likely persist, unless you really feel like putting that Gorilla Glass screen to the test.

Samsung hasn't said exactly when the device will be released, but I'd expect it to be very soon after the official release of Windows Phone 8 on 29 October. Likewise, the company isn't saying much about what it will cost, but some online retailers have it listed for around £430 SIM-free.

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