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Review: Samsung ATIV S Neo for Sprint

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At 4.8 inches across the diagonal, the Neo has one of the biggest screens available on a Windows Phone 8 device. Sadly, the screen offers only 1280 x 720p HD resolution rather than full HD, but that's because Windows Phone didn't yet support full HD screens when the Neo was announced. Samsung typically uses AMOLED displays, but in the Neo's case it switched to LCD. I found the screen to be bright, colorful, and sharp enough that individual pixels are all but impossible to see. Viewing angles were good and I didn't have any trouble using the Neo outdoors so long as the brightness was set up all the way. The Neo's screen is bigger and more pixel-rich than the one on the HTC 8XT.


The Neo performed above par when it came to connecting to Sprint's network. I tested it on both Sprint's EVDO 3G network and its LTE 4G network. When on 3G, it remained connected consistently and never dropped the signal. I had no trouble connecting calls, but 3G data is becoming increasingly painful in its lack of real speed. The Neo was quick enough on 3G to pull down email and Twitter updates, but downloading and installing apps was torturous. I used the Neo on Sprint's LTE network in New York City and saw a dramatic uptick in data speeds. Apps downloaded much faster and the device was quick to loading web pages. Sprint's LTE 4G footprint is slowly growing, but still lags its larger competitors.


The Neo is one of the better voice phones I've tested on Sprint's network in recent months, at least as far as the earpiece goes. Calls were crystal clear and had plenty of volume with the toggle set all the way up. I didn't hear any interference of any kind, and people with whom I spoke through the Neo said I sounded very good. I can't say the same for the speakerphone. Both quality and volume nosedive significantly. The speakerphone sounds like you're trying to talk to someone through a cardboard box, and the volume wasn't loud enough for use in my car. The ringers and alert tones were OK, but not great. The vibrate alert was strong enough to get my attention even when the Neo was stuffed in my backpack.


The Neo packs a 2,000mAh battery and I was impressed with the battery life it provided. The Neo easily lasted an entire waking day (from 7AM to 11PM), even when used extensively for firing off Tweets and emails. I spent the better part of a day with the Neo on Sprint's LTE 4G network and didn't notice any significant change in battery life compared to when it was used on 3G alone. You'll want to charge the Neo every night, but shouldn't have to worry about it in between charges.


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