Samsung Ativ S review

A lack of 4G holds back an otherwise stellar Windows Phone.

Ativ S

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Samsung Ativ S review

While the Ativ S has a basic loadout of apps with enough functionality to support day-to-day activities, third-party support is one place where Windows Phone 8 is struggling. Even the Microsoft owned Skype took a little while to arrive, so its no surprise that apps like Facebook and Twitter feel rather behind the competition.

Perhaps its to drive users to onboard software like the People app? We're not sure, but it's nice to have them, because the third-party stuff is rather unreliable.

Facebook is slow and unresponsive. It often took us several presses to get into the messages section, and there's not a convenient way to message photos as on Android and iOS 6.

There's also no Google Maps, and now that the world's most popular navigation system is back on the iPhone, WP8 is only one without it. The proprietary Bing powered Maps app works well and provides solid, reliable directions, but it can be a bit of a dummy when it comes to context based search.

For example, searching for Future US, the San Francisco headquarters of TechRadar in North America, got us a map of the United States. Searching for the address, 4000 Shoreline CT gave us a map of Connecticut. Maps seems to run with the one thing it recognizes in a search.

Samsung Ativ S review

At least the maps are accurate, detailed and attractive, more so than that disaster Apple Maps. When zoomed out you're given an illustrated map. Zoom enough and it turns into handsome satellite photography.

When it comes to actually getting directions, Maps is solid. It offers straightforward, logical walking or driving direction. However, there are no alternate route options for, say, avoiding traffic or tolls. There's also no public transportation support. As with Apple Maps, you'll have to venture in third-party territory for that.

Frequent drivers will really be disappointed by the lack of spoken turn-by-turn directions. Since this feature is available in both iOS 6 and Android devices, as well as on the Lumia 920 thanks to Nokia Drive, its absence is a real sore spot for us.