Samsung ATIV S vs HTC Windows Phone 8X

Introduction and Design

Microsoft has finally released the first batch of Windows Phone 8 handsets, and since we happen to be in possession of two of those, it seemed only natural to us to make a quick comparison between them. In the blue corner today we have the Samsung ATIV S, while in the red corner we have the HTC Windows Phone 8X – a smartphone that the guys from Redmond seem to be pushing really hard these days.

With both phones being almost identical to one another in terms of software, their biggest differentiating factor will now be their appearance, (screen) size, and whatever little exclusive content/apps they have managed to pack.


It's definitely hard to say which smartphone is better looking, since both of them are quite different – the ATIV S having more rounded corners and a generally smoother casing, while the Windows Phone 8X's edges being sharper and looking somewhat cleaner. The 8X is also coming in all kinds of fresh colors, while the ATIV S goes for a more metallic, down-to-business appearance.

The Windows Phone 8X comes with HTC's favorite soft-touch coating on the back, the feel of which is loved by some, while hated by others. The soft-touch coating, however, does collect a lot more dust and debris, which can quickly ruin the looks of your beloved smartphone. Meanwhile, the ATIV S makes use of Samsung's traditional glossy plastic, which may not feel particularly expensive in the hand, but is perfectly fine. Keeping our attention focused on their backsides, we just have to note that Samsung has done a remarkable job with the design here.

It doesn't take a genius to realize that the ATIV S is the larger of the two, due to its bigger screen. However, we can't really say that the Windows Phone 8X is much more comfortable to hold in the hand, because of its sharp edges.


The differences continue as we start to compare the screens of the ATIV S and Windows Phone 8X. Samsung's offering features a very large, 4.8” HD Super AMOLED display, while the HTC has a smaller 4.3” HD S-LCD2 panel. All in all, we prefer the Windows Phone 8X's display for a number of reasons.

First, its colors are truer to life than those of the AMOLED panel. For example, the white color appears somewhat bluish on the ATIV S, while it's much more whiter on the HTC. Secondly, the S-LCD2 panel is brighter, meaning that you get significantly better visibility outside. And finally, the 8X's screen is not PenTile, but RGB, so it definitely appears crisper than the AMOLED used by Samsung.

It looks like the only advantage of the Super AMOLED screen in this comparison is its great contrast level, which, however, is not enough to turn the odds in its favor.

Samsung ATIV S 360-degrees View:

HTC Windows Phone 8X 360-degrees View:


Well, it's not too often that we have two handsets with almost entirely identical software. If you are reading this article, we assume that you already know what Windows Phone 8 is about, but in case you'd like a refresher, feel free to read our HTC Windows Phone 8X Review, or Samsung ATIV S Review, where we take a more in-depth look at the platform experience.

So, is there anything that differentiates these two devices? Well, yes, there is! It's HTC's own hub/app, which... is nothing really special. It gives you the current weather and a weather forecast, it provides stock information, and it also has a news section powered by a variety of sources over which you have almost no control. With other words, the HTC hub is something that we could easily live without.

To counter the HTC hub, though, Samsung has the Now application (or hub, or whatever it is). It also provides weather information courtesy of AccuWeather (same as the HTC), as well as news and stocks. On both handsets you get pretty much the same stuff. Samsung has also preloaded its ChatON service for those who'd like to use it.


As you can imagine, the ATIV S has a bit of advantage due to its bigger display size, making all keys slightly larger. We're sure that both handsets will deliver a satisfying typing experience, but for those who really type a lot, or have larger hands, the ATIV S might be the better option with its roomier 4.8” screen.

Processor and Memory

With Microsoft having extremely tight control over the specs of Windows Phone devices, it's very hard for manufacturers to differentiate when it comes to hardware as well. It all becomes quite obvious when we see that both the Samsung ATIV S and HTC Windows Phone 8X feature exactly the same Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Plus dual-core chipset clocked at 1.5 GHz and Adreno 225 GPU.

Additionally, they both have 1 GB RAM and 16 GB internal storage, but Samsung has managed to escape from the grip and add a neat microSD card slot at the last minute, allowing its customers to easily increase the storage space.

All in all, you can expect the same kind of buttery-smooth performance out of both devices.


The browser works quite predictably on both the ATIV S and Windows Phone 8X, meaning that it's very capable.

Although the 8X has a crisper screen, making text more legible, this is successfully countered by the ATIV S's larger real estate. It's very hard to pick a clear favorite in this respect, but if you value stuff like true colors, then maybe the 8X will deliver a more pleasing experience for you. At the end of the day, both will get the job done in a timely and satisfying manner.

Obviously, the network speeds will vary depending on the carrier and network you use the phones on. As far as specs go, the international ATIV S lacks LTE, but we're sure that when it hits Verizon later in the form of the ATIV Odyssey, LTE will be part of the package. Other than that, both devices feature HSDPA 42.2 Mbit/s, and HSUPA 5.76 Mbit/s.

If you'd like to know more about the browsing experience in Windows Phone 8, please take a look at our Samsung ATIV S Review.


Do not expect to find any differences in the camera interfaces of the two handsets. When it comes to picture quality, though, there are some differences that can be found pretty easily. For starters, the 8X takes somewhat sharper photos, making it possible to discern fine details more easily. Meanwhile, though, the ATIV S has a slight advantage in terms of colors, as its images look just a tad more realistic.

Video recording is pretty similar, with both faring fine and having mediocre sound quality. Overall, we prefer the video quality of the 8X, since it seems to be more naturally-exposed, whereas the ATIV S makes things a bit too bright.

Samsung ATIV S Sample Video:

HTC Windows Phone 8X Sample Video:

Samsung ATIV S Indoor Sample Video:

HTC Windows Phone 8X Indoor Sample Video:


Multimedia-wise, we'd say that the ATIV S is the slightly better option, especially if you like watching a lot of video or playing a lot of games, due to the larger screen. For other things like listening to music, the 8X features HTC's Beats Audio technology, but it will all come down to the quality of earphones you're using.

Call quality

The Windows Phone 8X managed to score an easy win against the ATIV S in the call quality department, as the ATIV S isn't really an opponent to worry about in this department. This goes for both incoming and outgoing calls. The noise-cancellation features of both handsets work very well, though.

Even though the HTC Windows Phone 8X is supposed to have a special amplifier boosting the volume of sounds coming through both the 3.5 mm jack and speaker, we found the speaker of the Samsung ATIV S to be audibly louder. It's also clearer thanks to more high frequencies, while the 8X's sound is somewhat more muffled.


Both the ATIV S and Windows Phone 8X hold up well when it comes to battery life. No official stand-by and talk-time numbers have been revealed, but we found them to be good enough to easily deliver at least two days of moderate usage. Of course, it will all depend on multiple factors like the network you're using it own, your coverage, your usage pattern and so on.


When it's all said and done, it's extremely difficult to name one of these handsets a definite winner. Like in many other times when we've compared two smartphones, it'll all depend on your personal preferences, but it is exactly here where we come in.

Let's just say that if you happen to be a bit more sensitive towards different materials, there's a good chance that you might prefer the ATIV S's smooth and glossy plastic housing as opposed to the 8X's soft-touch one, which can house dust and other unpleasant stuff.

Also, if you are a really heavy multimedia user who watches a lot of video on their phone, it is once again the ATIV S that seems to be the more appropriate option, thanks to its 4.8” screen. On the other hand, call and screen quality seem to be the areas where the Windows Phone 8X excels.

So, which of these components should be considered most important? Well, this is where you come in.

Software version of the reviewed units:
ATIV S: OS version 8.0.9900.568, Firmware 2424.12.09.7
Windows Phone8X: OS version 8.0.9903.10, Firmware 1532.20.10001.401

Samsung ATIV S vs HTC Windows Phone 8X:

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