Samsung Ativ S Neo review: Decent Windows phone hampered by speed
The middle-of-the-road Samsung Ativ S Neo is a safe choice for those who shop by price, but an unexceptional smartphone overall.
Jessica Dolcourt’s career with CNET began in 2006, and spans reviews, reporting, analysis and commentary for desktop software; mobile software, including the very first Android and iPhone apps and operating systems; and mobile hardware, with an emphasis on iPhone and Samsung. Jessica was one of the first people in the world to test, review and report on foldable phones and 5G wireless speeds. Jessica began leading CNET’s How-To section for tips and FAQs in 2019, guiding coverage of practical advice on expansive topics ranging from personal finance to phones and home. She holds an MA with Distinction from the University of Warwick (UK).
Features-wise, the Samsung Ativ S Neo sits in the center of Sprint’s lineup, neither the high-end, high-priced smartphone on the premium side of spectrum, not the entry-level smartphone trying to keep it all together. A mass market phone like this occupies an important, if less exciting, place in any carrier’s roster. Yet this particular middle-of-the-road performer struggles to justify its 149.99 introductory retail price, particularly when the HTC 8XT comes in at 50 less on contract. (Days after this review originally posted, Sprint lowered the Ativ S Neo to 49.99 on contract. The 8XT is now free with a two-year service agreement.)
Samsung Ativ S Neo
Samsung’s Ativ S Neo is an attractive Windows Phone 8 handset with a large screen and more native camera extras than other Windows phones.
The Bottom Line
Though it’s an unexceptional smartphone overall, the middle-of-the-road Samsung Ativ S Neo is a safe choice for those who shop by price.
True, the S Neo’s larger, HD screen and doubled storage (16GB instead of 8GB) explain the price difference. Ultimately, though, both devices bring good-but-not-great internal operating speeds, photography, and features. It doesn’t help that Sprint’s slow 4G LTE deployment makes downloading apps and uploading photos a drag for anyone still stuck in a 3G-only footprint.
Getting to know Samsung’s sturdy Ativ S Neo (pictures)
Design and build Modeled with some of the Samsung Galaxy S4‘s squarer sensibilities, the Ativ S Neo is an attractive device, whose rounded rectangular design comes dressed in patterned, high-gloss dark blue plastic and a shiny metallic rim.
At 0.36-inch thick and 5.1 ounces, the S Neo leaves a much more solid and heavy impression than Samsung’s typically featherlight handsets. It’s a little too weighted for my tastes, in fact. Proportions are otherwise pleasing at 5.3 inches tall and 2.7 inches wide.- larger than the iPhone 5, but smaller than most of today’s jumbo phones.
Colors look bright and letting crisp on the S Neo’s 4.8-inch HD touch screen (1,280×720 pixels with a 306ppi density, if you care to know.) Of course, Windows Phone 8’s large, broad, high-contrast helps in that regard, and it isn’t until you’re reading desktop versions of articles and viewing photos that high resolution starts making a difference.
A physical home screen button about the size of a Tic Tac helps you navigate the Ativ S Neo, along with capacitive keys for going back and starting search. A Windows phone mainstay, these buttons have secondary functions to launch voice search and flip between recent apps. While the home button responds well to your press, I’d personally prefer it a little more fingertip-shaped and a little bit less oblong.
Along the spines, you’ll find the power/lock button and a physical camera shutter, the Micro-USB charging port, volume rocker, and a standard headset jack. The shiny buttons all rise just enough from the surface to make pressing them second nature.
The S Neo’s 8-megapixel camera module comes with an LED flash sidekick, and is joined on the front by a 1.9-megapixel lens. You’ll need to peel off the back cover in order to get at the microSD card slot below (you can store up to 64GB here.)
OS and features Running Windows Phone 8 (review), the Ativ S Neo serves up everything the platform has to offer, like multitasking, Xbox Live integration, and Kid’s Corner, a walled-off profile for young’uns. The flipside is also true that the S Neo shares all of Windows Phone 8’s foibles, like its still-growing app store and little things like no persistent voice dictation in that otherwise spry virtual keyboard (there are separate dictation buttons for apps like text messaging and Microsoft One Note).
Samsung has enhanced the experience somewhat with expanded NFC in the Ativ Beam app. The benefit here is that Samsung makes it really clear that you can share photos, documents, music, and videos with any Samsung Windows phone and NFC-capable Android devices.
Samsung also bestowed upon the S Neo its Shooting Modes lens, a camera app that lets you launch HDR mode, among others. I’ll go into more detail in the camera section below. Samsung Link helps you connect Samsung devices over Wi-Fi to share content.
Other preloaded apps that make their way onto the device include a photo editor and a handy video trimmer. You’ll also see the Scout navigator, Mini Diary, and apps for Sprint’s movies and music subscriptions.
In addition to the extras are Windows Phone staples like an alarm clock, a calculator, calendar, and data monitor, and the full Microsoft Office suite. Visual voice mail and Microsoft’s mobile wallet are also on board.
Cameras and video An 8-megapixel camera sensor graces the back of the Ativ S Neo, and ordinarily, that’s very good news. Samsung has a strong track record with smartphone cameras of this type producing clear, colorful photos and video. In this case, the camera fell short, creating images that were far less sharp and detailed than real-world counterparts, and less colorful and vibrant as well.
Exposure was also sometimes off, and photos on the whole looked flatter, duller, and more muddled than I expected. The searing flash often created harsh scenes. Photos were mostly usable, mind you, but I wouldn’t class the Neo’s performance among my roster of top smartphone cameras.
Luckily, using the Neo’s camera is pretty straightforward. The native camera app gets many additions here with a choice between regular and macro focuses (in the settings,) white balance presets, and options to tweak exposure metering, ISO, contrast, sharpness, and so on. You can also add Samsung’s effects (like sepia and solarize), and dial down the photo resolution to make smaller files. Many of the same choices carry over to video settings as well.
In addition to Samsung‘s more embellished camera app are even more modes in the separate Shooting Modes lens, an app preloaded by default (and thankfully easy to get to from the camera app.) Here, you can select three additional setups for continuous shot, beauty shot, and HDR mode for high-contrast situations. I like that Samsung’s app uses more visual graphics than the native camera app does, but there’s a lot of overlap between the two programs’ photo settings. Still, there’s not quite enough overlap to use Shooting Modes as the main camera, like if you want to use a macro setting. Frustratingly, Shooting Modes also lacks a button to get back to the entire collection of lenses.
At the end of the day, Samsung‘s S Neo butts up against the major limitation facing Microsoft’s system of camera lens add-ons, and that’s that phone-makers can’t consolidate their own graphical look and multitude of features into a single native app. Switching among lenses isn’t hard, but it also isn’t as convenient as using a single app for all your photo needs.
In addition to Shooting Modes, the preinstalled MangaCamera lens is all about black and white manga-style fun.- see the sample below. You’ll be able to download more photo app lenses from the Marketplace app store.
Moving on to video, you’ll find that the S Neo records 1080p HD clips and, unusually for this platform, can take stills while recording, as does Android. Autofocus kicked in after a few seconds, and while the video did seem clear when I held still (panning was less successful), the S Neo still wasn’t up to par compared even with Samsung’ other 1080p videos.
The front-facing 1.9-megapixel camera took some pretty mediocre shots of individuals and groups that were out of FOCUS and bizarrely colored. It’ll work in a pinch, sure, but don’t expect high fidelity for selfies and video chats.
You can compare studio shots from some other smartphone cameras in this online gallery.
Call quality Call quality was a bit better for my chief test partner than for me when I tested the Ativ S Neo in San Francisco (CDMA: 800/1900 MHz).
On my end, audio sounded strong at medium level, which gives important leeway for loud situations that require you to turn up the volume. Voices weren’t exactly clear, though, and I could hear muffled sounds and crackling when my caller spoke. On his end, my caller identified distortion on the peaks, and noted that my voice.- while clear, natural, and loud.- lacked some warmth. Overall, he thought I sounded very good and not as distant as I often do on other smartphones.
Samsung Ativ S Neo call quality sample Listen now:
Interestingly, my test partner graded speakerphone quality almost the same as the mouthpiece quality, saying I sounded nearly identical even when I held the S Neo at hip level. That’s a huge achievement, since speakerphones tend to amplify Echo.
Volume was a little low on my side of the call, even when I raised it. The more I increased the volume, the more buzzy and echoey the audio quality became. S Neo owners will have a harder time hearing through speakerphone in louder environments.
Performance: Battery, processor, LTE Although the Ativ S Neo supports 4G LTE, I only noticed 4G signal a handful of times when using the phone in San Francisco and when I did, it was pretty fast. The rest of the time, pokey 3G caused some Web pages to load in minutes rather than seconds. Your experience may differ depending on Sprint’s network strength in your area (this rings true for all networks, not just Sprint’s), but in mine, the S Neo was a frustratingly slow phone to use.
Internal performance should be fine.- it runs on a 1.4GHz dual-core Qualcomm MSM8930AA processor, after all.- but it moved a little slower than other Windows phones for tasks like booting up and shot-to-shot time (without using the continuous shooting mode.) Still, so long as you’re happy with network speed, the internal whirring shouldn’t slow you down too much.
For a midlevel phone of this type, the S Neo’s 16GB provision of internal storage is pretty good, and doubles that of the HTC 8XT, Sprint’s other Windows phone. You can also expand storage up to 64GB, in addition to Microsoft’s promise of 7GB of online Skydrive storage. The phone has 1GB of RAM.
The S Neo rates its talk time at 15 hours on its 2,000mAh battery and 10.8 days of battery life over 4G (that’s 13.8 days over 3G.) It has a digital SAR of 0.91-watt per kilogram. Battery life was pretty good in my tests so far, holding up even after a few calls. During our drain test for talk time, it lasted 15.92 hours. However, the slower data in my are also kept me from surfing the Web as intensely as usual, so more frequent surfers and streamers will see the charge drain at a quicker rate.
Buy it or skip it? The S Neo’s 150 retail asking price was too steep for what you get, but the new 50 is spot on and suddenly makes the S Neo’s value leap up in the charts. The S Neo isn’t a bad phone by any means.- it’s sturdy and has a nice, readable screen and an attractive (if uninspired) design. Yet it’s also an unremarkable showing with passable, but not not stellar, image quality.
If Sprint is your carrier and the price is right in your budget, you won’t go wrong buying the S Neo, though you should also consider Sprint’s HTC’s 8XT. which has the sexier design for 50 less; however, you do lose RAM and onboard storage capacity.
Those of you willing to spend 50 more and try out Android will find that Sprint models like the Samsung Galaxy S III deliver a more reliable Samsung 8-megapixel camera, selling for about 100 at a deep discount.
A lack of 4G holds back an otherwise stellar Windows Phone.
- Thin, stylish design
- Biggest screen of any Windows Phone 8 device
- Strong specs
- MicroSD support
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Producing powerful and balanced devices like the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2, Samsung is a force to be reckoned with in the Android smartphone market. Not one to be rushed, the Korean manufacturer has taken its sweet time producing a Windows Phone 8 device.
After some delay, the Samsung Ativ S has emerged. With its big and bright display, it shows just how lovely those Windows Phone 8 Live Tiles can be. With the Ativ moniker, it stands among the Ativ Smart PC, Ativ Smart PC Pro, and Ativ Tab as Samsung devices built to use the latest Windows 8 and Windows RT software.
While Microsoft’s mobile OS is still young and the Windows app store is still being populated, store shelves are filling up with WP8 devices. Both HTC and Nokia have substantial offerings, the HTC 8X and HTC 8S and the Lumia 822 and Lumia 920, respectively.
Just as Microsoft’s mobile platform is finding its legs, competition is heating up for the title of flagship WP8 device. However, for many customers the Ativ S may not even be in the running due to uneven carrier treatment. In Australia, the U.S. and in the U.K., the Ativ S is only a 3G device. You’ll have to be a lucky Canadian on Bell to experience 4G LTE speeds with the Ativ S.
While we loved the Ativ S’s big display, and found it a subdued alternative to colorful handsets like the 8X and Lumia lineup, it suffers the same limitations as other WP8 devices. Also, the lack of 4G support in most places should have power users hesitant to jump in. In the U.S., they’ll want to wait for Verizon’s rumored Ativ Odyssey, which could end up being the 4G version of the Ativ S we so desire.
While Samsung has crafted a handsome, reliable device, the hunt for the ultimate WP8 device is still on. Read on to find out what great touches the Korean manufacturer has brought to the WP8 space, and the reasons why consumers should still be a tad hesitant to embrace the Ativ S.
Samsung’s Ativ S bears a very strong resemblance to both the Galaxy SII and SIII, to the point where it feels like one of those phones retrofitted with WP8 software.
Physically, the Ativ S has two major accomplishments under its belt: it’s the thinnest build of any Windows Phone 8 device and it has the largest screen. This alone makes it deserving of attention from consumers.
That AMOLED display is 4.8-inches, just a little bit bigger than the WP8 device with the second largest screen, the Nokia Lumia 920 at 4.5-inches. At 306 pixels per inch, the display is actually less dense than the HTC and Nokia competition, but you’d never know it with your naked eye. This large, well-lit display really makes those Live Tiles sing, and the viewing angles are nothing short of spectacular. Even in bright sunlight we had no trouble looking at the Ativ S.
The body of the Ativ S isn’t bad to look at either. It has a long, brushed metallic exterior, like a Galaxy S3. Don’t let that chromed appearance fool you though, just like the S3 the Ativ S is all plastic.
The Ativ S’s slim body and metallic design give it a mature, subdued appearance that we find appealing. Consumers who found the candy-colored HTC 8X too playful or the Lumia 920 too obviously plastic will be delighted with it.
However, the Ativ S is so slick it’s downright slippery. It almost slid out of our hands on a number of occasions. That’s not something that would ever happen with a grippy HTC 8X or 8S. Hopefully there will be stylish flip covers for the Ativ S, just like the S3.
Inside, the Ativ S packs power. It doesn’t have an S3’s quad-core, but its 1.5 GHz dual-core is nothing to sneeze at. There’s also 1GB of RAM, and the option of 16 or 32GB of internal memory.
Fans of removable batteries and micro-SD cards rejoice, the Ativ S has both. Just like an S3, the thin backplate is removable, revealing a 2,300 mAh battery, micro-SIM and SD card slot. That, combined with ample internal memory, makes it ideal photos and videos.
As with the S3, the backplate is shockingly thin. Taking it off always made us feel like we might break it, but it held up well to multiple removals, and the bending we subjected it to.
On the rear you’ll also spy an 8-megapixel lense and LED flash. There’s also the long, thin speaker grill we often see on Samsung phones.
The top right side of the Ativ S has the lock/power button used for waking the phone and turning it off. On the bottom right lies a dedicated camera button, a signature of Windows Phone 8 design. It’s a choice we agree with, as it’s very convenient for grabbing a quick shot.
On the left side is your standard volume rocker. It should be noted that all three of the buttons sit somewhat loosely in their sockets. You can feel them move around as you press them, and hear them click if you shake the phone. As with the iPhone 5, it’s a small detail that detracts just the tiniest bit from overall premium feel of the phone.
Overall, the Ativ S is a very handsome, smartly designed phone. While long, thin and metallic has become something of a standard design for Android devices, this is a new look for the revamped Windows Phone. It sets it apart from the more colorful competition, and while some consumers may balk at its size, a subdued, thin look plus removable storage and battery make it a very viable option.
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Samsung ATIV SE
Consulta las características técnicas y toda la información sobre Samsung ATIV SE y sus mejores ofertas.
Fecha de lanzamiento: 01/04/2014
Precio de lanzamiento: 440,00 €
Resolución 1920×1080 pixeles
Krait 400, 4 nucleos, 2.30Ghz
Redes 2G GSM compatibles: 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
Redes 3G HDSPA: 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100
69.90 mm x 137.70 mm x 8.40 mm
Más caracteristicas ArrowIosDownwardOutline icon
Las dimensiones del Samsung ATIV SE son: 137,7 mm de ancho, 69,9 mm de alto y 8,4 mm de grosor en su perfil, mientras que su peso es de 135 g.
El Samsung ATIV SE tiene un tamaño de pantalla de 5. con una resolución de 1920×1080. La pantalla es de tipo AMOLED. Tiene una densidad de píxeles de 441 ppp. Además, con la protección Corning Gorilla Glass 3 te aseguras resistencia frente a arañazos y golpes.
En cuanto a características técnicas, el procesador del Samsung ATIV SE es un Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 de 1 núcleos y con una velocidad de reloj de 2,3 GHz. En el apartado de memoria, contamos con 2 GB de memoria RAM, y 16 GB de memoria interna o de almacenamiento. La memoria de almacenamiento se puede ampliar vía microSD.
El Samsung ATIV SE corre la versión 8.1 de Windows.
En el ATIV SE contamos con una cámara principal –o trasera- con una resolución de 13 MP. La cámara principal tiene Flash LED. Es capaz de grabar vídeo Full HD 1080p MP. Además, contamos también con cámara frontal o secundaria. que tiene una resolución de 2 MP.
El Samsung ATIV SE tiene una batería con una capacidad de 2600 mAh. La duración en conversación es de 20 h, según los propios datos de Samsung. mientras que la autonomía en stand-by es de 480 h.
En cuanto a conectividad, y además de las especificaciones técnicas que tienes a la izquierda, podemos contarte que el Samsung ATIV SE utiliza una tarjeta microsim.