Review: Samsung ATIV S Neo for Sprint
The Neo runs Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 platform. Aside from sprinkling in their own apps/services, neither Samsung nor Sprint can do anything to change the basic behavior of the operating system. That means it runs just like every other WP8 smartphone.
Lock screen tools include customizable notifications and wallpapers, as well as quick access to the camera and a nice clock. It's a shame, though, that you can't act on the notifications, such as dismiss your unread emails. You can only see how many messages or calls you might have waiting.
The Start screen is customizable to a certain degree. The apps take the form of Live Tiles, which can be adjusted into three different sizes (small, medium, large). Some apps offer dynamic content that changes on the tiles throughout the day. This is one of WP8's cooler features. You can jump between open apps with a long press of the back button, which opens the multitasking tool.
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The main app menu is just an alphabetical list of all the installed apps. It's a bummer this view cannot be customized in any way. I'd appreciate the addition of folders, for example, to hide seldom-used apps. The same goes for the settings tools, which are also listed in a simplistic fashion. Don't get me wrong, they function just fine. All I'm saying is that Windows Phone sometimes feels a bit restrictive.
A dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor with 1GB of RAM is what provides the Neo with its computational powers. As I've said on pretty much every WP8 review I've written, performance is never a problem. Windows Phone is a fast platform and the Neo didn't have any trouble powering through apps, playing games, multitasking and so on.
Calls and Contacts
Windows Phone's phone tool is somewhat simplistic, but at least that means it's easy to use. The dial pad is large and makes dialing numbers a snap. The call history is spartan, but it offers essential features including the ability to save, text, or call numbers stored in the log. In-call features cover the norm, such as speakerphone, mute, send to Bluetooth, etc. The phone performs fine.
Windows Phone doesn't have a traditional contact app; instead, it has the People Hub. The People Hub is a contact app on steroids. It syncs perfectly with your email contacts, and then cross-populates contact data with their Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn profile data. The result is a socially-connected space on the Neo that includes not only raw contact details, but recent Twitter updates, Facebook comments, and so on.
The People Hub also includes features called Rooms and Groups. Both let you create subsets of your contacts and then interact with them in this separate space. For example, Rooms can share text messages, photos, and calendar items easily with one another. Groups are larger versions of rooms and are meant more for business/company groups rather than family members or friends.
The native WP8 email client is decent and syncs with all the usual internet-based email services out there. You'll have no problem connecting your Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo Mail or other service. The email client does a fine job of rendering HTML emails, but the threaded conversations could be much easier to view.
The SMS app also works as the Skype and Facebook messaging apps. They are all three one and the same. The user interface is spartan, but offers just as many tools as competing platforms. It's a cinch to add photos, videos, or other content to outgoing messages. It doesn't support other services like Google Hangouts, though.
Separate Twitter and Facebook applications are available from the Windows Phone Store.
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