Hands On With Verizon’s Elusive Samsung ATIV Odyssey Windows Phone

Samsung’s ATIV Odyssey has been a real noodle-scratcher of a device ever since its existence was first hinted at during Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 launch event. Well, consider that particular veil lifted — Samsung had a near-final version of the Odyssey to play with here at Digital Experience in Las Vegas, and I took the secretive little guy for a spin.

But first, the particulars. Under the Odyssey’s glossy plastic hood is a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor as well as 1GB of RAM. To be quite honest, the screen was nothing to write home about (though that’s really nothing for a device of this caliber) — it’s a 4-inch WVGA Super AMOLED panel, the likes of which you’ve seen many times before.

Couple that with 8GB of internal flash storage, a removable 2,100mAh battery, and a microSD card slot and you’ve got all the makings of a half-decent mid-range Windows Phone. Despite touting the device in a release earlier today, Verizon is still keeping mum on pricing and availability, but I wouldn’t expect that to be the case for much longer.

Since Microsoft has very stringent requirements, most of these lower and mid-range Windows Phones run very similarly. That’s hardly a bad thing — it gives Windows Phone a sense of consistency that’s often lacking from other platforms — but it means that there really isn’t much to expound on here. Swiping between through a homescreen full of ever-blinking live tiles was seamless, and it kept up nicely as I darted in and out of apps.

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When it comes to design, the Odyssey won’t come as a shock to anyone who’s manhandled any other mid-range Samsung phone in recent years (oh, and that leak from late last year was dead on). It strikes a fine balance between the round, rather bulky body of Nokia’s Lumia 920, but isn’t quite as slim or as nicely tapered as HTC’s Windows Phone 8X. In many ways it’s a typical Samsung device — lightweight and plasticky, but with a surprisingly sturdy feel. Perhaps the most surprising thing about the Odyssey’s physical design is just how small it feels in your hand; it’s only been a year or two since 4-inch smartphones were the pinnacles of product design.

All things considered, the ATIV Odyssey seems like a neat (if somewhat underwhelming) Windows Phone. Verizon may have a winner on its proverbial hands if they price the thing aggressively enough, but it’s not hard to see how a device like this could easily be overshadowed by more able hardware.