Samsung ATIV Odyssey Review - A Good Budget WP8 Phone (Part 1)

3/23/2013 4:21:16 PM

Odyssey is imperfect, but like its predecessor Focus 2, this budget Windows Phone has its own beauty…

The flood of Windows Phone 8 is now retreating. HTC and Nokia have made their appearance famous with forceful statements and even Huawei take action. Meanwhile, Samsung introduced itself by the hi-end ATIV S, a new breath into Galaxy S III with the air from Microsoft. Nokia and HTC are now having mid-segment models in the market. There’s just a gap needing to be filled: a budget phone from Sammy. With the release of ATIV Odyssey, we can believe that Windows Phone’s land will not be much dramatically changed in the near future. (Of course, World Mobile Congress will quickly make out a liar among us).

Samsung ATIV Odyssey

Samsung ATIV Odyssey

ATIV S doesn’t have something airy or colorful to race with Lumia 920 and HTC 8X. But in the middle segment, where ad tricks and common styles are replaced with functions, may Samsung be able to mark its position among RedMon followers? 2011’s Focus 2 and Focus Flash had a great combination of price and functions by giving specs comparable to higher-end rivals. More than one year later, the question is whether it is a successful combination in a market that has been remarkably extended.


Considering aspects, ATIV Odyssey is not much different from other mid-segment models of Samsung. Below the cover are similar components turning ATIV S into an appealing model. But externally, the situation is completely different. The 4.8in screen size (720p) was shrunk down to 4in, losing several pixels during such process. The Super AMOLED screen feature WVGA – the resolution is more and more for cheapest Android models.

However, that is what people expect in Windows Phone world, where HTC and Nokia used the similar resolution for 8S and Lumia 820. It’s a pity when we got used to HD smartphone, shortages and low-pixel resolution in display become more visible, especially with texts. And in case you don’t notice, Windows Phone UI is simple blocks of colors and texts. Though, it is not bad at all: the screen offer similar blacks that you may find on other AMOLED models, along with colors that are biased towards unnatural side. But, the familiar greens we realized in similar screens were obviously clear here.

The device’s surface has nothing surprising. Windows Phone’s capacitive buttons lies below the screen, right when you have been expecting, while the chromium speaker grid, front camera and sensor array are vertically line up on top. There’re also Verizon and Samsung logos that are not much subtle, lying alongside the screen – only 2 of 4 logos were immoderately ruined on the phone. Others, Verizon LTE and Windows Phone logos, covers a large part of the 2,100mAh battery’s detachable cover. And you have to pull it out to access SIM card. The panel is plastic-made, making it look like aluminum, what ATIV S is having. On top lies 5MP camera and LED flash.

Two sides are covered in a cheap-looking plastic chromium coat, giving us a hope that manufacturers will dislike it. Adding to these fingerprint-attracting magnet bars are a usual arrangement of buttons and ports. Along the right side is power/lock button and two-stage camera button. In the left lie a volume rocker and a quite narrow port hiding micro-SD tray, a rare treasure on Windows Phone. This slot can accept 64GB card, quite handy as Odyssey has only 8GB of internal storage. Near the bottom is micro-USB port, while the top surface contains the standard 3.5mm jack. Meanwhile, most of these buttons may work as expected; the camera button feels quite soft.

The body is chubby and the smooth part stays perfectly in palm, to such a degree that you mostly don’t feel its slightly bulky 0.4in tilt surface. At least until you see it. The chromium bar is to emphasize Odyssey’s thickness. The body is mainly plastic-made, making the device look cheap, yet it has own advantage. First, it reduces the weight by 4.4ounce – light enough for you to almost forget the phone is still in your pocket. Second, it actually makes the phone sturdier. While we pleasantly exchanged some sleekness for an expensive feeling of metal or glass, we highly appreciate that Odyssey could survive after a pour of dirty water. In fact, I dropped it from a stair and even after it collided with the 15-feet brick floor, it didn’t also look worse than when falling off my careless hands. The Gorilla Glass 2 front surface was still unscratched and the back lid was not even loosening after the terrible fall. iPhone even couldn’t manage to live after the second step.

Odyssey is also Verizon’s newest model having “Global Ready”, meaning beside from LTE radio and EV-DO Rev. It is also packed with open GSM and HSPA. And don’t let the term of “global” deceive you. GSM support on 850/900/1800/1900 band, along with HSPA/UMTS on 2100 band, means that we could insert AT&T SIM into, although there may be only EDGE data available.

Odyssey is also Verizon’s newest model having “Global Ready”, meaning beside from LTE radio and EV-DO Rev

Odyssey is also Verizon’s newest model having “Global Ready”, meaning beside from LTE radio and EV-DO Rev


To tell the truth, there’s not much to say about software that hasn’t been mentioned, Windows Phone 8 is still Windows Phone 8, even on a smaller screen. UI is simply the nicest mobile platform at present and enhancements are introduced with the newest updates that make Microsoft’s favorite child not only a beautiful face. They include improvements for multi-tasking, resizable tiles, Wallet and of course the real support for modern hardware. But it’s likely that software improvements even shine more brightly when attached with budget devices. Smoother operation and better-exploited screen space mean that you won’t see how small Odyssey’s screen is, until you have to type a long email.

The phone’s specs

The phone’s specs

However, the most surprising is IE10. 919ms score in SunSpider won by most of Android options in the market and was slightly better than iPhone 5’s result (924ms). While the hardware plays an important role in scoring, the efficiency of rendering machine of the browser is also important, even more. Meanwhile there’s some small trivia annoying us about IE’s newest version, they are surpassed by positive aspects. Thus, we won’t waste any second for this problem anymore – IE10 was very great.

Verizon and Samsung packed some additional apps, but they are easily removed and often inoffensive. Samsung includes Now hub, which mainly get news and weather forecasts, along with a basic sound editor and MiniDiary – the software is mostly useless, allowing you to sketch, note and save photos. Clearly, that idea acts as a list of your daily routines, thoughts and emotions (you know, it’s like Tumblr, but offline), but it feels like a simplified note-taking app. Besides, there’s also DataSense, which is not a Verizon app, but at now, it is exclusive for this provider.

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