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Hands on with the Samsung Ativ S I8750 with Windows Phone 8

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With powerhouse phones such as the Nokia Lumia 920 and Windows Phone 8X by HTC already on the market, the popularity of the as yet unreleased Ativ S from Samsung has been somewhat impressive. The handset is due to hit tomorrow through Clove technology, though it looks to be a while yet before it’s available on contract.

We’ve felt less than inspired with Samsung’s previous Windows Phone 7 efforts; left wishing Samsung would take a look at the Omnia i900 and bring back some of the magic. With the Ativ S it seems as though they’ve done just that, with a great design and some premium touches like the brushed silver back.

We’ll make no bones about it; this is a big phone. With a 4.8-inch display it’s in the same territory as the Galaxy SIII, although it’s not quite got the same curves. The corners are more squared off but overall the phone is nicely rounded in the right places to make it comfortable to hold. It’s also incredibly light, and when holding this in one hand and the Lumia 920 in the other the difference was laughable – the Lumia feels like a rock.

The Ativ S is slim as well, which combined with the low weight helps the phone mask its large size. With the Windows key located centrally as a click button and flanked by illuminated touch buttons for the back and search functions, it’s like Samsung has infused its Galaxy stylings with Windows Phone – if you happen to be making the jump from a Galaxy handset to Windows Phone then this should make for the easiest possible transition.

With a dual-core 1.5GHz processor and 1GB of RAM under the hood the Ativ S should be nippy, and it is. Sweeping through lists, switching between apps and browsing is all snappy and we didn’t experience any sort of lag. The display is a joy too, with a crisp 306 ppi pixel density looking sharp on the 4.8-inch Super AMOLED display. While we didn’t get to watch any movies, images certainly look great in HD resolution.

We love that the Ativ S has a physical camera button, which a press and hold of will open the camera app even when the phone is locked. It’s responsive and located in just the right place for holding the phone to take a snap.

Finally, the brushed metal effect on the back plate, silver camera surround and the perforated grille at the bottom of the phone all look very stylish. In fact, when turning the phone over, you’d think that from looking at the back it wasn’t the same phone.

The Ativ S launches SIM-free through Clove as of December 14th with contract deals expected to launch later in the month and towards the start of 2013 through various UK retailers.