Hands-on with the Rogers Samsung ATIV S, HTC 8X and Nokia Lumia 920

Daniel Bader

October 19, 2012 1:34pm

Rogers and Microsoft held a joint press conference this morning that focused on the new suite of Windows Phone 8 devices.

While we’ve previously shown you the Nokia Lumia 920 and HTC 8X, both of which will be exclusive to Rogers in some form (the 8X will be exclusive to the carrier in 8GB form), this was the first time we’ve had a chance to play with the Samsung ATIV S.

The device is flat-out gorgeous. It’s significantly taller than the 8X, but at a thickness of 8.7mm and weight of 135g it comes off as smaller than the 4.5-inch Nokia Lumia 920. The Super AMOLED HD screen is vivid and bold, through we could see ourselves tiring of the relatively low pixel density of 306ppi after being spoiled by the sharp, beautiful Super LCD display of the HTC 8X.

We weren’t able to play with any of the software, but the final hardware feels great in the hand. We couldn’t tell exactly where the aluminum started and the plastic ended, but it did feel demonstrably better than the Samsung Galaxy S III. From the back, it resembles in many ways Samsung’s previous Windows Phone king, the AT&T-only Focus S. We’re also big fans of the exposed speaker grill at the bottom

As with all Windows Phones, there is a dedicated camera shutter button on the right side. We’re assuming the camera sensor is identical to the Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note II, but we’re excited to see what improvements Windows Phone 8 brings to the experience.

As you can see from the Apps screen, there are a bevy of Rogers, Microsoft and Samsung offerings, including Samsung’s  updated Music Hub and MiniDiary, Rogers’ One Number and My Account apps, and Microsoft’s Office and OneNote offerings. There’s also, curiously, a Live Wallpaper app, which we presume will be a launcher or screensaver of some sort, as Microsoft doesn’t seem to allow moving background on its main screen.

We also see something called Family Story and Beauty, likely scrapbooking and picture touch-up apps respectively. Samsung’s ChatON has been bundled with the phone as well, and Rogers’ Anyplace TV Live takes centre stage. These apps will most likely be removable, an advantage over equivalent Android phones.

We also got glimpses of the Nokia Lumia 920 in black and the HTC 8X in blue, which looks closer to purple in real life. The 8X was noticeably lighter, thinner and more pocketable than Nokia’s massive flagship, and the reds on the Super LCD display were deeper and richer than the Nokia. That being said, The Lumia feels great — substantial — in the hand and very robust.

You can see from the home screen the Lumia 920 is also showcasing many Rogers apps. The carrier made no bones about its excitement for having so many branded apps on its Windows Phones. Its One Number service is front and centre (well, top and left) on the live tiles, indicating a prominent place in its holiday lineup. Curiously, though Skype is built right into Windows Phone 8, neither Microsoft nor Rogers made any mention of the popular VoIP service.

From the back the two phones look remarkably different, and yet the internals are almost identical. While neither phone has expandable storage (only the ATIV S does), the Lumia comes with 32GB of storage as opposed to the 8X’s 16GB. And while the two phones share the same processor and graphical prowess, the Lumia gets the edge in terms of camera performance with its 8.7MP PureView sensor and lens combo. And we can’t forget Nokia’s strong lineup of exclusive apps like Drive, Transit, Camera Extras, City Lens, Cinemagraph and more.

The wild card here happens to be the ATIV S. While the HTC 8X and Lumia 920 bring separate value propositions — size, build quality, screen for the former; camera, software extras for the latter — Samsung’s Windows Phone 8 offering seems to be just another smartphone. Yes, it’s beautiful, and the 4.8-inch screen is vivid, but ultimately it’s going to be overshadowed in Rogers’ fall lineup.

Lastly, we had a brief hands-on with Samsung’s 11.6-inch ATIV Smart PC tablet, which runs a full x86 version of Windows 8. We don’t know specifics on pricing or whether it will be available off-contract in an iPad model, or through a 3-year contract using Rogers’ data-only plans, but we’d imagine it will be the latter.

We’ll update you on all the impending pricing and availability announcements in the coming days.

  • ns.dev

    That Rogers Buzz tile definitely doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb…

  • William

    Really Telus? You’re going to stay quiet while Rogers grabs everything WP8 related? Come on, give us something to work with here.

    • John Marshall

      Telus is probably after the Lumia 820, to succeed the 800, and will undoubtedly offer the Lumia 920 and the HTC phones in more colour choices once Rogers’ month-long exclusivity runs out, just in time for the holidays!

    • 8675309

      telus had their chance & they blew it example: selling the low quality nokia lumia models(compared to their laucnh lineup for wp7 originally what they currently have are weak especailly since their not lte compatible) & when you ask one of thier reps. about the MACH DBG deal & if it will work(or was ever launched) on an unlocked &/or unbranded wp7.x device they simply say “call technical” to possible new customers.

  • Phil R

    Man…. Does the Samsung tablet look gorgeous!!! I really think I’m gonna keep saving the money I had for a nexus 7 for this. Should I?

    • MR

      It looks pretty sweet, you should keep saving up but don’t buy a W8 tablet right away, give it a couple of weeks at least to see how reviews are, and how solid the device is. If all is good, then buy yourself a beautiful ATIV tablet!

    • Ryan

      I’ve been using the Windows 7 version of the ATIV (called the Series 7) with Windows 8 installed for the past 4-6 months, and it is pretty amazing. I’m a student, so between homework and browsing and the like, I’ve used it for 4-6 hours a day.

      Both the OS -and- the tablet are lightweight and able. And wait until you use the Wacom (I assume the ATIV is using a wacom) stylus to write notes in OneNote. Penabled/”active digitizers” are incomparable to capacitative plush-tip styli. Like using a square-tipped marker versus a micro-size ballpoint pen.

      I’m tempted to upgrade from the Series 7 to the ATIV just because. Well worth the money.

  • Sean

    Well least all carrier apps can be deleated with Windows Phones. Also they really need to get more colours for the Lumia 920 it just looses something when it is only in black

    • Mike

      Would it be tighter if other colors were available?

  • Christmas Daniels

    The tablet is so worth it all ports you need. Can run software and some legacy software. And Microsoft is now taking on antivirus themselves (lots of money).

  • HighClassFrenchCricket

    these ‘live’ tiles look terrible on big screens

  • Christmas Daniels

    They also have an iPad model called the surface…. Giggidy

  • Christmas Daniels

    Try the system and you will see the beauty in them

  • MER1978

    “As with all Windows Phones, there is a dedicated camera shutter button on the right side.”

    Could somebody PLEASE make this the standard for all smartphones?

  • Hugo

    Man and still nothing from telus what the heck, guess ill end up buying a htc8s from bell outright and use a telus sim argh, Telus I am disapoint with your bad windows phone support so far.

    • HighClassFrenchCricket

      telus is still trying to find a way into the ACC after momma Rogers and pappa Bell locked them out. rolf

  • HighClassFrenchCricket

    The samsung ativ is your father. It will do well with business users and professionals, the outer shell looks BOSS. HTC looks cartoon-ish and Nokia is too shiny.

  • Shenzen

    which one of these is the new bb10? i am confused.

    • Blas

      You know you’ve been here to long when this makes you laugh

  • Osama

    can you change the tiles to a classic windows icon or android look? I think the tiles are great for old people who cant see small icons, but is it customizable for the younger folks like me? I want some bikini background, not a bunch of red & green squares??? If you can change it to look like Windows 7 (PC) then I will run into the store and buy a Nokia 920!

    • wp7 & Lovin It

      The live tiles can be set to 3 different sizes. Kepp in mind with WP8 the hub integration means you don’t need a ton of apps to get things done. ie: when I open my People hun I see contact info, what’s new from facebook/twitter, updated pictures from contacts, etc. It’s all seamless inside the hub

  • casualsuede

    I usually like it when they have lovely models holding the phone (SS and LG are famous for those) rather than a couple of frumpy middle aged men.

  • iphoneuser

    What’s with the tile colors? Looks lame!

    • John Marshall

      You can customize the tile colours, and make the background white instead of black in the phone settings. Nokia Blue looks quite smart!

    • bob

      Wow, thanks for weighing in there, I was just waiting for your opinion before I decide to buy one of these because I don’t possess the capability of deciding whether I like the interface for myself.

  • Me

    @ Osama – I love tiles and dont think you just have to be old to find them useful. If you think you need to look at bikinis all day long, maybe it’s time for you to stop trolling and get out of your parents’ basement. Get out there and get a life.

  • Vince

    You guys can see the difference from 326dpi and 306dpi?

  • aaron

    Dissapointed as usual, keep seeing all these awesome devices, and i know deep down they wont make their way over to Telus.

  • Swizzlerz

    telus hellow???

  • Osama

    I dunno about you, but I would rather look at bikinis or puppies or space…. instead of some square tiles… that’s why we like android, you can make it look how you want. I never seen a phone that you couldnt change the background. Like why do you need a call icon that takes up a quarter of the screen? Are your fingers that fat you need 2 square inches of icon? Also, though I admit I dont get out much (people are not cool anymore) I am not a basement troll. Why are you Winboys so defensive of making fun of those blocks, come on now, it looks like a fisher price OS!

    • John Marshall

      A.) So you want a phone covered in distracting pictures and titties instead of useful information? Okay, hope that works out for you.

      B.) The sizes of the tiles are customizable, so you can change that tile to take up only a tiny square if you want, or you can make it double-wide to show information like missed phone calls, recent calls, etc. Windows Phone 8 is wickedly customizable, without having to download skins or launchers or jailbreaks or other silly crap like that.

      C.) So you’d rather have iOS or Android where you poke little pictures with your fingers to make stuff whoosh across the screen and make funny noises, and then go on the App Store and Play Store to download more toys like Angry Birds and Cut the Rope. I’d rather have a mobile OS designed for getting stuff done, if you don’t mind.

    • Geoff

      So, a couple things on both sides of the argument. First, how young do you have to be to have never seen a phone that couldn’t set a background? Even the iPhone couldn’t do that at first. That being said, backgrounds are nice. They add some style when looking at the phone and let you freshen it up. At the same time, having a background at all means that you aren’t using all of your screen real estate efficiently. When talking about a phone, it does make sense that the space can be used in more useful ways than to display Ocean HD.

  • John Marshall

    WANNNNNNNNNT.

    Now I’m just waiting to see what the other carriers have for Windows Phone 8; Telus, Koodo and Virgin in particular.

  • Arsonity

    The guy on the left looks like an evil genius that would be on a bond film. Why isn’t the Galaxy s3 as well built as the Ativ? Guess they’re only planning on making a couple hundred thousand lol.

  • David

    Putting a Rogers logo on these beautiful devices is like a hole in the ozone layer.

  • GENERAL WONG

    SAMSUNG, Y U NO MAKE PHONES WITH QUALITY MATERIALS?!

  • Osama

    @john marshall: I dont see how being able to put skins on a OS makes it useless or distracting? Wallpapers and skins are the most basic form of customization. If Windows can not do that (besides change the tile color or size) then how is it very customizable? Oh ya I forgot, you can move the tiles around, great!

    • John Marshall

      Move them, resize them, change their colours, add or remove certain app tiles from the homescreen for quicker access, customize how much information they show… it seems like deeper “customization” than just being able to choose 16 icons and a few space-cluttering, battery-draining widgets on five homescreens. Slapping a picture on it or changing how shiny it is probably is pretty “basic” customization (“basic” as in they don’t do anything besides look different), but Android and iOS doesn’t seem to offer any more than that, and considering how much they drain the battery and clutter up the interface, I don’t exactly miss it.

      I’m sure if you really wanted to, you could customize some of the Live Tiles to have tits on them, but I wouldn’t be able to tell you how to do that.

  • HighClassFrenchCricket

    how the hell do you get stuff done on wp8? There are literally no apps lmao. Good luck using internet explorer to navigate through everything lol. Have fun looking at those huge squares flip over every 3 seconds because that’s all there is to do lol

    • Francis Thibault

      How long have you used WP8 for?

    • John Marshall

      100,000 + Windows’ code base = “Literally no apps”. “Literally” as in “This is exactly what I mean, with no embellishment or hyperbole.” So if I was to tap the Marketplace tile, it would just be an empty screen that I would have to back out of. And all the things on the homescreen and on that menu when you swipe to the right aren’t “apps”, since there are “literally” none.

      I’d rather have 100,000 useful apps than 700,000 stupid apps that don’t do anything, especially with an OS that encourages more development in the future. You’re literally an i***t.

    • Geoff

      Ok, so HCFC is trolling you, John. That being said, the reason why 700,000 apps over 100,000 apps actually matters is not just the number of apps. The issue is that there are some specific apps that deal with a niche crowd and are important for those people. Sometimes it is simply annoying to not have access to these apps, while at other times it can be game breaking. As an android user, there were some apps that I missed out on because they were for the iPhone only. That being said, when the iPhone hit 100,000 apps that was seen as an incredibly large number.

      TLDR version: having less apps means that as a consumer you have a risk of missing out on certain apps which may be important to you specifically.

    • John Marshall

      I know he’s trolling me, Geoff, but it’s a fun exercise to pretend I care about his opinion.

      I’m using an Android phone at the moment (HTC One S) because I thought its emulation and better gaming support would be useful for me, but mostly I’ve just found myself overwhelmed by the number of apps that all do mostly the same thing, but with wildly different interfaces, prices, and levels of performance. I had a Lumia 800 before this HTC phone, and I was more easily able to find apps suited to my needs on a smaller app store, compared to the giant pile of apps provided by Google Play. Many of the included apps on Windows Phone, especially the Nokia apps, have no equivalent on Android; I still haven’t found a bus schedules app that holds a candle to Nokia Transit. There’s been a few annoying gaps, like how there’s no official apps for sites like Tumblr, Kobo or Wikipedia, but the developer community did an okay job filling in the gaps with third-party programs, and hopefully this problem will be fixed with more enthusiastic developer support for WP8.

      Though if there’s one platform that has even more apps than Android, it’s Windows. And now that Windows Phone 8 has the same code as its desktop cousin, as well as tools to easily port over from Android and iOS, the Windows Marketplace is set to explode pretty soon. Even if it doesn’t, though, what’s there now seems like just what I want. It’s like why some people still use BlackBerry: it might not have craploads of apps and shiny, Google-y features, but it’s the best tool for what they need. I’d rather have something that does what I want really well, as opposed to something that does everything mediocrely.

  • MKLKT

    There’s no way those ugly Rogers apps are staying pinned on my phone, especially since they don’t follow the OS colour theme. Looks brutal! I’m surprised they showed it off like that. At least the HTC user had the foresight to pick red.

    • 8675309

      the rogers music app is the worst of them all as its been a direct port from their j2me based phones with no enhancements for a touch screen. & their BT a2dp profile support in that app was horrible.

  • Osama

    @John: why are you so cranky? we are just having a disussion here, why do you need to call people i****s? Are you invested in Microsoft or something? Let’s face it, Microsoft has been doing software since the 80s, right? So why are they in last place in the mobile software industry? One look at their fisher price OS and the answer should be clear… I dont care how many times you resize or recolor the tiles, they are simply square tiles.

    • John Marshall

      They’re last in the mobile industry (well… second-last ahead of BlackBerry) because of bad timing, a reluctance to update, and not encouraging development from software and hardware makers, all which WP8 seeks to remedy. Assuming its because of its “Fisher-Price OS” is like assuming your watch keeps bears away because there’s no bears around.

    • Spike

      I don’t care how many times you drop the square looking program icons found on Android or IOS into a square looking folder, they are still square icons……Sheeez……….. And those “tile” looking widgets…OMG, they are still “Tile” looking widgets

      Now we all feel better.

  • HighClassFrenchCricket

    LOL dont mind John, micro & soft is his life LMAO.

    • John Marshall

      Yeah, talking to you from my MacBook and everything, I’m such a Micro-Softie.

      I’m not pro-Microsoft, I’m just anti-d*****s.

  • HighClassFrenchCricket

    I gave Windows 7 a try through a HD2, where was the rush of incoming apps for this new & revolutionary OS? Never came. I even got a Lumia 710, same thing happened, that app rush never came. I think the problem here is micro & soft, not sufficient to make things come. LOL.

    • John Marshall

      They’re radically changing their tack for Windows Phone 8, between updating its kernel from the outdated Windows CE to the same kernel desktop Windows uses, to a strong marketing push, and encouraging both hardware and software makers. Microsoft knows they cocked up Windows Phone 7, and they also know what to do.

  • HighClassFrenchCricket

    This reminds me of when Nokia debuted the Lumia 800 and everyone was going nuts at the polycarbonate unibody, and huge tiles proclaiming they would not only buy it, but buy it outright. But what happened in reality? Nobody bought anything not on a three year contract and surely not outright haha. The same thing will happen here im afraid.

    • John Marshall

      Speaking for myself, I bought it. I just had to return it due to issues with the WiFi connection, and because the Windows Phone 8 rumours were starting up at the time, which I think also put out most other potential users. When WP8 comes out, I’m swapping my current phone for its successor. I think we’ll get along famously!

  • Piff

    I might switch from Android to WP8 depending on what models are compatable with Wind. But what impresses me the most is that all phones are updated equally. I dont need to wait for my update or wonder if my phone will be updated at all. I thik that MS is doing it right and time will tell how the WP platforn will do.

  • Keith

    All boring black phones. Is the entire managment team at Rogers colour blind?

    • techie 01

      In-case you can’t read they are releasing 4 colors of the HTC

  • wp7 & Lovin It

    Bell, where are you???

  • JC

    Can anyone who has attended the Rogers press conference confirm whether or not the Samsung Ativ Smart PC will come SIM-locked to Rogers?

  • Mathieu

    The hardware on the Lumia 920 is fantastic and the WP8 software looks very nice, but I still couldn’t get myself to get into WP as a platform.

  • RMB

    I prefer productivity/stability/simplicity over novelty so I’ll stick with my WP.

  • pulk10

    WP offers a different level and kind of customization than either Android or iOS. Android, simply put, is a mess. Yes, it is very flexible and powerful but I don’t want a whole bucketload of options (and don’t even want to think about ‘debugging’ something) on my phone. As long as it does what I want it to, I’m fine with it. The problem with Android seems to be that it tries to pack in everything at once and loses simplicity and usability due to that. iOS does the exact opposite; it limits me too much. WP8 though, seems to strike a balance between the two approaches and I’m quite excited to try it out.

    Also, after trying out numerous lovely (read: horrendous) skins on Android, I’d much rather use this apparently “fisher-price” looking OS than deal with some i***t at an OEM deciding that the “Facebook stream” widget needs to look butt ugly and occupy half my screen. The whole point of the start screen here is to pin stuff which is important to you and to have quick access to that by just scrolling up and down – that’s as simple as it gets. There are no multiple homescreens to deal with, it’s just simple scrolling – if that is too hard for you then I’m surprised you have made it far enough to type on a computer.

    TL;DR version: WP8 is awesome and Rogers needs to get its head out of the sand if it thinks that selling the Lumia in black only and offering an 8GB version of the 8X are smart decisions.