Samsung first to unveil Windows Phone 8 device

Samsung’s revealed the world’s first first Windows Phone 8 smartphone, along with other devices including a Windows RT tablet, a Galaxy ‘phablet’ and an Android-powered camera.

The Ativ S is just 8.7mm thick, and features a 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED display, making it one of the bigger models on the market. It’s based on a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, and has an an eight-megapixel rear camera and 1.9-megapixel front-facing camera. It has 1GB of RAM, and will come in 16GB and 32GB versions.

Samsung’s just pipped Nokia to the post with the launch, with the Finnish manufacturer expected to announce its own Windows 8 phone next week.

“The ATIV S is flat-out beautiful, and it has the guts to match. But what’s impressed me most about the ATIV S is Samsung’s attention to detail,” says Microsoft’s Ben Rudolph on the official Windows Phone blog.

“To get to your Start screen, you hit a raised physical Windows button, not a capacitive one. The speaker bar on the front and the back, as well as all of the buttons, are aluminum, not plastic. And the display glass has just the slightest of rounded edges. It all adds up to a device that looks great, feels great, and performs great.”

Informa Telecoms and Media analyst Malik Saadi, though, believes that the Ativ S won’t cause much of a splash – unless it can differentiate itself on price.

“If you take a closer look at the WP8 platform specifications, it is clear that, as far as enabled devices are concerned, differentiation on the hardware side will be difficult,” he says.

“This means all WP8 devices will come with similar hardware (multicore processor, same display size and quality, similar memory capacity, etc). A number of devices powered by WP8 are expected to be launched by various manufacturers in 4Q12, the majority of which will come with similar, or even better, hardware capabilities so ATIV S cannot be differentiated in this way.”

Also new is a 10.1-inch tablet, based on an ARM chip and Windows 8 RT. Other Intel-based models, running the full version of Windows 8, are also available and carry the Slate or Artiv brand, depending on geographical location.

Meanwhile, the company’s announced the Galaxy Note 2, a longer, thinner version of the phone, featuring a 5.5-inch screen. A new Air View function provides previews of on-screen content such as emails or photos when the stylus is held hovering over the screen.

Finally, the company’s announced the Android-based Galaxy camera, including such bells and whistles as voice control and the ability to send live images to a smartphone. It includes optional 3G or 4G data connectivity as well as Wifi.

The products are Samsung’s first launches since its dramatic loss in the long-running patent battle with Apple in a US court last week. With Apple on the warpath over Android, Windows devices may look like a better bet.