Words by Angelina Montanez
Samsung Ativ Odyssey
Price: $50 (w/2-year-contract)
The Windows Phone 8 platform has made a huge impression on the mobile scene, spearheaded by the Nokia Lumia 920, which set high benchmarks for all WP8 devices to come after. With Nokia dominating the Microsoft mobile front for so long, we were all pretty shocked when HTC jumped onboard and delivered the 8X—a phone featuring a more sleek and slimmer design than the recent Lumia model with similar benchmarks. It was only a matter of time before Android kingpin, Samsung, joined the soiree, but we didn’t expect to be kept waiting this long for its new WP8 offering.
Make no mistake: Samsung owns the Android market. But is it ready to make the same mark on the WP8 market? The Verizon-exclusive Ativ Odyssey might give us a preview on what we can look forward to from the South Korean giant. While it’s not as big as we anticipated: Could this throw off consumers who’ve become accustomed to its big-screen phones? And most importantly, does it have the goods to stack up against HTC and Nokia’s primetime players? Here’s our Samsung Ativ Odyssey review.
Intuitive and Vibrant OS
Microsoft did a great job refining its OS, incorporating the live tiles presentation that gives the home screen some spunk. I’ve caught myself staring at it at times just to admire the vibrancy of my Xbox Live avatar. With the interface supporting real-time updates, all my social media accounts and news feeds update on the spot without requiring me to open any programs.
Receiving emails on the Odyssey is much faster than on an Android device. My Galaxy S III relies on the dependency on refreshing the Gmail app just to see if any recent messages have entered the inbox. That alone makes Samsung’s Windows device the better option for when awaiting important emails.
Good LTE and Call Quality
The Odyssey does have one major advantage: it’s support of 4G LTE. After making the Actic S a 3G-enabled device, Samsung smartened up by hitching onto Verizon’s lightening-fast nationwide date network. No dropped calls, even in places where I usually experience them on other carriers. Searching the Web was a breeze promoting a lag-free experience and loading pages instantly.
Disappointing Screen and App Market
What happened to that big, beautiful 4.8-inch 720 x 1280 display? The Odyssey is a more compact phone with dimensions more similar to the HTC 8X than the Ativ S, which flaunts the biggest display of any Windows phone. But after experiencing the crisp, bright, and clear screen on the 8X, we were disappointed with the Odyssey’s dark and gloomy panel. Judging by the visual quality, you would swear this was an early Windows Phone 7 device. We expected better from Samsung: the king of smartphone displays.
Apps. This has always been a problem for the Windows Phone platform. Granted if you’ve owned a Microsoft phone for this long, it’s not a deal breaker, but if you were switching over from Android or iOS, it’s somewhat of a shell shock. The absence of applications like Instagram and Spotify, plus other popular programs, sort of make the phone a little boring after long use.
The Ativ Odyssey is not the standard Samsung product most consumers are expecting, especially after establishing a premium rep with the Galaxy S series. We’ve been accustomed to seeing bright and big beautiful screens, which this phone lacks. WP8 does offer a couple of new apps like Mini Diary where you can jot down some notes and add a couple of pictures. But its biggest selling point is Microsoft’s latest mobile operating system. It’s really a sight for sore eyes and is extremely intuitive. What’s not to love about real-time functionality? Exactly. The fact that you can customize titles to your liking is pretty cool as well, though it’s nothing groundbreaking. Even with a less-than-stellar camera, unattractive design, and smaller screen size, for 50 bucks it’s a notable mid-level smartphone.