Samsung unveils the Ativ S, the first-ever Windows 8 phone

Samsung took a battering in court last week, but that hasn't stopped it from releasing new tech. This week Samsung pulled the wraps off the Ativ S, a dual-core smart phone that's the first to run Windows Phone 8.

Markus Schreiber/AP
Samsung's dual-core Ativ S smart phone is the first-ever handset running Windows Phone 8 software. Here, a Samsung executive holds the Ativ S at an event in Berlin.

Last week wasn't Samsung's best: the company came out on the losing end of one of the highest-profile technology cases ever, saddled with an order to pay Apple more than $1 billion for patent infringement. But the court defeat apparently hasn't blunted the company's momentum in terms of new tech: this week Samsung revealed a handset that's both the first dual-core Windows phone and the first ever to ship with Windows Phone 8. Ladies and gentlemen, meet the Ativ S.

The phone looks an awful lot like the Galaxy S III, Samsung's current flagship Android handset. It's got a 4.8-inch Super AMOLED screen, a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, and an 8-megapixel rear camera paired with a 1.9-megapixel front-facing one. The phone will come in 16GB and 32GB flavors. It's 8.7mm thick, which is thin enough that Samsung felt comfortable calling it a "chic hairline design" at the unveiling.

The Ativ S also takes full advantage of Windows Phone 8's new features, including support for NFC (near field communication, for close-quarters file sharing and mobile payment) and microSD (a physical card slot on the handset allows for expandable storage). Truth be told, no one actually has much information on what else Windows Phone 8 will bring to the table -- and although Microsoft teased the Ativ S in a blog post, it didn't give many details about the software. (The best Microsoft is offering right now, evidently, is the assurance the Ativ S "performs great.")

Samsung announced the phone at the IFA Berlin event on Wednesday, and in doing so all but thumbed its nose at Nokia. The two companies have had a little bit of a feud going on around Windows Phone 8 -- Nokia's head of sales and marketing specifically called out Samsung earlier this month, warning it to "take note" of the next-generation Lumia phones. Samsung beat Nokia to the punch as far as timing, too: Nokia has a September 5th media event planned, which it'll probably use to talk about its plans for the Windows Phone platform.

Neither Samsung nor Nokia have much choice but to build new handsets: Microsoft announced earlier this year that smartphones running Windows Phone 7.5 or earlier won't be able to upgrade to Windows Phone 8 because of the hardware requirements of the OS. Since Samsung is apparently trying to capture some of the Windows phone market, that means a new handset from them; and since Nokia is the biggest maker of Windows phones right now, that means it'll likely unveil new hardware at its September 5th event.

Readers, are you excited about the Ativ S? Are you waiting to see what Nokia comes up with? Or are you bored by the prospect of Windows phones? Let us know in the comments section below.

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