The curious got a peek behind the curtain last week at the first smartphones running Windows Phone 8. At the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin, for example, Samsung previewed the ATIV S -- a WP8-enabled smartphone featuring a brushed aluminum chassis that's only one-third of an inch thick.
"The beautiful, minimal and simple design, together with the premium, metallic hairline finish, make this device even more special," a Samsung spokesperson said Wednesday. "Even with its slim profile and outstanding mobility, it's fully compatible with Microsoft Windows and users can enjoy various Windows-based content in an optimized environment."
Among other things, Samsung is hoping to attract the attention of business professionals by offering enterprise-friendly features on the ATIV S such as encryption and corporate policy management capabilities. The new smartphone demonstrates that Samsung is not betting all its marbles on Google's Android mobile platform.
"This is just the first in a big lineup of new hardware that's coming with Windows Phone 8, but it's a seriously impressive opening salvo," said Microsoft's Windows Phone blogger Ben Rudolph.
Samsung ATIV S
For Samsung, Wednesday's sneak preview of the ATIV S was a 2-for-1: it stole some of the thunder from a highly anticipated joint Nokia-Microsoft event slated for Sept. 5 and also showed that Samsung intends to challenge Apple's iPhone via multiple mobile-platform offerings.
Samsung's ATIV S sports a 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED display protected by Corning Gorilla Glass, a 1.5-gigahertz dual-core Snapdragon processor from Qualcomm and 1 GB of RAM, together with Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n), Bluetooth 3 and near-field communications wireless connectivity options. Also on tap is an 8-megapixel auto-focus rear camera plus a 1.9-megapixel front-facing camera for enabling video-chat and videoconferencing sessions.
"You'll have the choice of two storage capacities -- 16GB or 32GB -- and both models have a MicroSD slot for expanded storage," Rudolph wrote.
The ATIV S also integrates a battery with a substantial 2300 mAh capacity. And due to the handset's super-thin bezeled form factor, Samsung's WP8-enabled smartphone is "extremely comfortable to hold and keeps your fingers off the screen when it's in your hand," Rudolph said.
Leaked Lumia Photos
Leaked photos of Nokia's next-generation Lumia 820 and Lumia 920 smartphones surfaced on Friday in tweets from @evleaks. Nokia's Lumia 920 reportedly will have a 4.5-inch display and PureView camera, whereas the Lumia 820 will be equipped with a 4.2-inch screen.
It appears that both devices will be offered in a wide selection of colors. Recent media reports indicate that the Lumia 920 will be sold exclusively by AT&T in the United States, while the Lumia 820 will be available from both AT&T and T-Mobile.
Still, it will take more than offering gorgeous form-factors for either Samsung or Nokia to convince consumers that Windows Phone 8 is the next best thing -- and having a wide array of cool apps available from Day One is perhaps the best way to win them over.
On the other hand, Microsoft has not yet completed the requisite Windows Phone 8 software development kit (SDK) for enabling developers to prep their apps to run on the new mobile platform, industry observers say. WP8 officially enters the U.S. marketplace at the end of October, which doesn't leave developers much time to prepare.