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Samsung Galaxy ATIV SE: A great Windows phone that's really hard to find

Andy Patrizio | May 15, 2014
What do you get when you combine Windows Phone 8 with Samsung hardware? A wonderful phone with one big problem.

In terms of day-to-day use, I found the Galaxy ATIV SE to be as responsive as the Nokia phones I've used. It responds instantly to all input; if anything, the screen is too sensitive and too easily activated. I've nearly deleted tiles just by putting the phone in my pocket. Its reliance on Internet Explorer for web browsing, however, is easily its weakest link. The browser doesn't have tabs and it can't open more than one browser window. Many times I've clicked on the Back arrow to go to a previous page, only to exit the browser entirely. But that's a limitation of Windows Phone 8, not Samsung's hardware.

Battery life is superb. I've yet to run it below 80 percent, even while gaming during lunch. And I like knowing that I can swap out its battery if I do exhaust it when there's no AC outlet in sight. Just like the Lumia phones, however, the ATIV SE suffers from an odd quirk that prevents it from shutting down while it's plugged into power. It will restart, but it won't turn off.

The ATIV SE offers HSDPA LTE download speeds up to 42.2 Mbps and HSUPA uploads of 5.76 Mbps. Its feature set is typical of this class and includes Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11b/g/n on the 2.4GHz frequency band and 802.11a/ac on the 5GHz band. The phone also supports DLNA and Wi-Fi Direct, and it can be configured to provide a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Should you buy one?
Aside from its camera and size, most of my reservations about the ATIV SE are related to Windows Phone 8, not the hardware the OS is running on. It's lighter than the Lumia Icon, it offers expandable storage via a MicroSD slot, and you can swap out its battery.

The change in chassis dimensions compared to the Galaxy S4, on the other hand, is borderline unforgivable--I can't imagine what Samsung's engineers were thinking. I also must question Samsung's dedication to this phone, considering that it's available only by special order on a single carrier. Having said all that, I must also say that Samsung's Galaxy ATIV SE is the best Windows phone so far.

 

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