The Samsung Ativ Odyssey delivers the performance and stylish UI that we expect from a Windows Phone 8 device, albeit in a smaller package than much of its competition. Verizon's 4G LTE service makes for a handset that can speedily surf the web, not to mention ably handle clear calls, plus the battery is surprisingly robust.
But with the smaller form-factor and cheaper price come concessions, some of which may take this solid device out of consideration for prospective buyers.
Windows Phone 8 still feels like such a breath of fresh air in a market owned by iOS and Android devices. The customizable Live Tiles are a fantastic addition over previous iterations, and the OS runs very well on the Ativ Odyssey, with no noticeable spurts of lag during use.
Verizon's 4G LTE network remains a strong performer for both data speeds and clear calls, both of which were consistently great during use.
Battery life on the Ativ Odyssey exceeds expectations, easily delivering more than a full day's use for most regular phone users, while less-active owners can stretch that much further.
We've seen solid displays running at 480x800, but this isn't one of them. The Ativ Odyssey's screen makes its pixels distractingly discernible, which detracts from apps and games, not to mention web surfing and email reading. And the cheap plastic backing and unnecessarily large front logos make it feel a bit chintzy.
The 5-megapixel camera is on the lower end for Windows Phone 8 devices, which isn't a huge deal if you're just snapping quick shots for friends and family, but the Ativ Odyssey won't displace a standalone point-and-shoot option.
Using the built-in Maps app came with some frustration, and it's not like there's a wealth of great options to choose from in the marketplace. Windows Phone 8 continues to lag well behind its competitors in apps and games selection, and the tide isn't turning as quickly as it should.
As a lower-priced entry model into the world of Windows Phone 8, Samsung's Ativ Odyssey does a solid job of delivering the slick OS experience without lag, and Verizon's 4G LTE coverage ensures quality calls and data usage.
However, a low on-contract price isn't such a remarkable feat here; the Nokia Lumia 822 is free on Verizon with an agreement, and delivers more internal storage and a better camera, while the HTC Windows Phone 8X packs in a dramatically improved screen and a stylish build for $100 with contract. And that doesn't take into consideration the WP8 options on other carriers.
Considering Samsung's continued Android success, we hoped a bit of that gusto would feed into its Windows Phone 8 efforts in the United States, but the Ativ Odyssey won't turn any heads – certainly not with that middling display and uninspiring design. It excels in some areas, sure, but not enough to tie you down for two years just to save a few bucks now.