Samsung ATIV Odyssey Review

While Microsoft was once a dominant player in the early days of smartphones, the company has seriously lagged behind the likes of Apple and Google. In fact, it has yet to seriously challenge either of those companies for a serious portion of smartphone market share either in the United States or around the world. That certainly is not due to lack of trying, hover, as the company has developed an intuitive new operating system powered by sterling new devices.

The Samsung ATIV Odyssey is Samsung’s stab at an ultra-affordable Windows Phone 8 device for the Verizon Wireless network. In some areas, the phone is an unmitigated success. In other areas, though, it could clearly use some refining and Samsung might have a better chance with a follow-up device a few months from now.

The Software: A Home Run for Microsoft in Smartphone Development

Samsung ATIV Odyssey
Consumers deciding whether or not to buy a Windows Phone device often look first to the software that will power their new phone, and Windows Phone 8 is no disappointment. Microsoft has worked harder than ever to create a mobile experience that is vastly different from that of its competitors, and that’s actually a very good thing. Windows Phone 8 is responsive, extensible, and very intuitive. Live tiles are a breeze to use and quite helpful, while the number of available applications is increasing by the day.

The Samsung ATIV Odyssey comes with the latest version of Microsoft’s Windows Phone software and consumers can expect to have access to all of the company’s latest features. That’s the first really good piece of news for Samsung with this device.

4G LTE Connectivity is On-Board

Another key feature found in the Odyssey is its use of 4G LTE connectivity when transferring mobile data. That’s now a requirement by Verizon Wireless, which stated roughly a year ago that it would no longer accept new devices on its network that did not utilize its largest-in-the-nation 4G LTE footprint. The Odyssey handles LTE with ease, and data speeds easily exceed the benchmarks set by the 3G CMDA network outside of 4G areas.

ATIV Odyssey screen
One notable piece of information about the device’s use of 4G LTE is that its battery does not suffer dramatically from its inclusion. IT certainly does not yet perform up to the standards of a 3G-only device, but no LTE phone currently on the market has featured such performance. Users will get current-generation connectivity without sacrificing a great deal of battery life, and that’s another victory.

Design is Mediocre at Best, and Certainly Not Inspiring

The design of the phone is decidedly uninspired, with rounded corners and a shiny, black design that look like virtually every other device on the market. That might not be disappointing if this were an Android device, but it’s especially lackluster when compared to Nokia’s Lumia and the HTC 8X series. Those phones are large, bright, and cheerful. Samsung’s ATIV Odyssey, by comparison, is flat, black, and forgettable. On the plus side, the phone is quite thin for an entry-level model and most people will appreciate that quality.

In terms of mediocre design and features, the 5-megapixel camera placed into the device by Samsung should get a mention. The camera does not compare favorably to the sensors in every other Windows Phone 8 device, and it is far inferior even to high-end Android devices or Apple’s iPhones of the last several years. Pictures are fine, but they’re not great. Grainy appearance is often a problem in all but the brightest lighting conditions, which will not please photo enthusiasts who choose the Odyssey over other models.

Samsung ATIV Odyssey Camera

Price: A Reason to Compromise on Some Features?

Windows Phone 8, and its predecessor Windows Phone 7, have never demanded the kind of top-notch price tag that Apple’s iPhone does. The phones have often sold well below even high-end Android devices with which Microsoft competes. Samsung, though, is setting a much lower bar for pricing on their Windows Phone 8 device with a price tag that comes in at just $49.99 with a two-year service agreement at Verizon Wireless.

The entry-level price tag might explain a great deal of the uninspired design choices and the underwhelming camera. For consumers who are looking for a top-notch mobile operating system that doesn’t cost a top-notch amount of money, it might be worth sacrificing some features for a better overall price. For others, though, the Lumia and 8X series of phones are not that much more and they probably represent a better overall value in terms of features and longevity.

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