Samsung launches first Windows 8 smartphone

Samsung has become the first handset manufacturer to unveil a smartphone using Microsoft’s latest mobile software.

The brief announcement at a Berlin electronics show comes just days before the highly anticipated launch of Nokia’s version.

It comes amid expectations smartphone makers may turn increasingly to Windows devices after a US jury decided many of Samsung’s Google Android- based phones infringed Apple patents.

Nokia, the ailing Finnish mobile firm, is due to unveil its new Lumia line of smartphones using Windows Phone 8 in New York on Sept 5.

Samsung’s new phone called ATIV S — tacked onto the end of a long news conference in Berlin that focused on other products — may elevate expectations for the Lumia.

Samsung’s ATIV S Windows phone sports a high-end 4.8-inch display, Corning “Gorilla” glass, and an 8-megapixel rear camera and 1.9-megapixel front- facing camera, Microsoft posted on its official blog on Wednesday.

“Expectations for a 40- megapixel or possibly 20- megapixel camera model are running high. If Nokia does not unveil a monster camera handset next week, many will be disappointed,” said Tero Kuittinen, analyst at Alekstra.

But “this leaves Nokia plenty of room to draw a clear contrast with its upcoming announcement”.

Samsung’s ATIV marks the first in a “big lineup of new hardware” from the South Korean firm based on Microsoft’s software, Microsoft executive Ben Rudolph said in a blog.

Analysts say the introduction of Samsung’s Windows phone may be designed to assuage concerns that Microsoft will favour Nokia, whose CEO Stephen Elop — himself a former senior Microsoft executive — has staked its future on the Windows platform.

“The fact Samsung was allowed to be the first to announce is Microsoft’s backhanded way of letting other vendors know that Nokia is not getting special treatment,” Current Analysis analyst Avi Greengart said.

Microsoft gave a preview of its Windows Phone 8 software in June. It looks similar to, and is built on the same core code as Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 operating system, but is not the same product.

Windows 8, which will run on tablets and PCs, is due to launch on Oct 26.

Samsung said the ATIV phone would hit stores in the October-November period.

On Wednesday, Samsung also showed off a slew of tablets using Windows 8 software and the second generation of its popular Google Android-based Galaxy Note phone-come- tablet “phablet” in Berlin.

Samsung has sold some 10m of its original Galaxy Note devices, creating a new product category which has smaller screen than tablets, but bigger than smartphones.

Samsung hopes the new device will take the focus away from its loss of the court case. Apple is seeking bans on the sale of eight Samsung phones, moving swiftly to turn legal victory into tangible business gain.

Samsung hopes the phablet upgrade will lift any post-Apple gloom. The new version has a thinner and slightly bigger screen, quad- core processor, the latest version of Android operating system Jellybean, and improved stylus function.


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