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Nokia Lumia 920 vs Samsung Ativ S: First impressions of first Windows Phone 8 handsets

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Samsung unveiled its Ativ S Windows Phone 8 smartphone at IFA, a week before Nokia's prescheduled New York event, in a move clearly designed to steal some of the Finnish phone maker's thunder.

Since then Nokia has unveiled its new flagship Lumia 920 smartphone, leading to speculation over whether Samsung will be able to wrest control of the Windows Phone ecosystem.

samsung-ativ-s-windows-8-smartphone

In terms of specifications, little is known about the Ativ S, other than it will run using the Microsoft Windows Phone 8 operating system. But from what we do know, it will be fairly similar to the Lumia 920's specs.

The Ativ S will pack a sizeable 4.8in Super Amoled display, while the 920 will feature a 4.5in Nokia PureMotion HD+ WXGA IPS LCD screen. The question here will be whether Nokia's PureMotion HD+ will be able to match Samsung's Super Amoled technology's performance.

The Puremotion HD+ technology is an evolved version of the ClearBlack feature seen on Nokia's Lumia 800 and 900 smartphones.

While we were impressed with the earlier Lumia's screens, we couldn't honestly say they were as good as the Super Amoled displays seen on Samsung's recent top-end Galaxy smartphones.

This means Nokia will have had to seriously improve the technology if the Lumia 920 is going to compete with the Ativ S display.

Both the Ativ S and Lumia 920 have been confirmed to run using 1.5GHz dual-core processors. As Windows Phone 8 is significantly less power hungry than Android, we're expecting both smartphones to be incredibly fast and more than capable of matching most top-end Android devices' speeds.

Technically, the only factor we can see that will help the Lumia 920 differentiate itself from the Ativ S is the inclusion of Nokia's incredible Pureview camera technology.

Nokia claims that the Pureview technology means that the Lumia 920's 8.7MP rear camera is the best currently available on any smartphone capturing "five to 10 times more light than competitors devices". If it's anything like the camera tech seen on the 808 Pureview, we believe it.

Nokia Lumia 920 Microsoft Windows Phone 8 Floating Lens result

That said, as noted by several industry analysts, it's not just about the Lumia 920's and Ativ S' technical prowess, it's also about their software.

Nokia already has a strong history of developing for the Windows Phone platform, while Samsung at best can be described as having tested the water.

This means that, as far as we currently know, the Ativ S will be released running an untouched version of Windows Phone 8, while the Lumia 920 will feature a slew of custom-made Nokia apps and features.

"What makes the Lumia 920 unique from competitors are the range of services that Nokia developed to create additional value to its clients and to compete with other Windows Phones that will come to market in the next quarters," noted IDC analyst Francisco Jeronimo.

Nokia already confirmed its Nokia Maps, Transport, Music (in the US) and newly unveiled City Lens services will be featured on the 920. Many of these features have proven incredibly popular with existing Windows Phone users and have become a unique selling point for the Nokia brand.

Nokia's City Lens offers users an augmented reality display that gives dynamic information about users' surroundings. When considered alongside the other custom apps, we think it could be a serious factor differentiating the Lumia 920 from the Ativ S.

Combine this innovation with the Lumia 920's Fatboy wireless charger and we really have to question the Ativ S' current chances of succeeding in the Windows Phone 8 ecosystem.

Check back with V3 later in the year for full reviews of the Samsung Ativ S and Nokia Lumia 920.

06 Sep 2012

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