Windows Phone 8 is finally start to get some traction in the market, and while high end devices usually get most of the press, it’s the low-priced phones that typically sell the highest volume and help a company build out its market share.
Verizon currently has two entry-level devices on the market, the Lumia 822 which we previous reviewed, and the Samsung Ativ Odyssey. The Odyssey is an entry-level device for Windows Phone 8 from Samsung but offers a compelling phone in a small package and at a delicious price point.
The phone packs a 4-inch, 800x480 display; an S4 CPU running at 1.5 Ghz; 1GB of RAM; 5MP rear camera and 1.2MP front-facing camera; LTE support; 2100 mAh battery; 8GB of internal storage; a microSD slot; and all of the other standard connections that you would expect in a modern smartphone. The device's entire spec sheet can be found here.
The phone is priced at $49.99 on a two-year contract or $449 if you buy it as standalone device. Either way, the Odyssey is a budget-friendly phone, which means that any consumer looking at this device will likely also consider the 822 on Verizon as well.
The device, despite having a 4-inch screen, does not feel overly large. The plastic exterior and slim body lines make the phone feel good in your hands, and the weight of the device gives it a bit of heft so that it doesn’t feel like a toy.
The exterior of the device is a plastic material that is made to look like aluminum. There is nothing to hide there, it’s plastic, feels like plastic and bends like plastic. While we would love to see this phone in a true aluminum body, for the price point, plastic is to be expected. Even though it’s not made of metal, the phone does feel confident in your hand and does not flex when you apply pressure to the corners.
Samsung has done a good job of hiding the devices girth, as the phone is actually .4 inches thick. But thanks to rounded edges and sweeping body lines, the phone does not feel like it needs to hit the treadmill.
On the sides you have your standard volume rocker that does not wow, as we have certainly seen better rockers on other phones because of the fact that the buttons are a bit mushy when engaged. They are not awful by any means, but once you get used to a phone that has firm/clicky indicators when the button is engaged, anything less than that becomes sub-par.
One the other side of the phone there is a microSD slot that hides behind a flimsy door that, with repeated use, we are sure would snap off. Conveniently, this slot can hold up to 64GB of extra storage, which can turn your budget friendly phone into a more premium device with an extra SD card that can be picked up for around $50 if you can find the right sale.
The display of the phone is about what you would expect for a low-end device. If you have been spoiled by high-resolution screens that are packed densely into a small frame, you will quickly spot the pixilation on the screen.
Low-resolution screen pixelation is easily noticed.
But just because the screen does not dazzle doesn’t mean all is bad. Color reproduction was solid, off-angle viewing was acceptable, and blacks were deep and whites were just a tad cool.
Touch response on the device was spot on and we never had any missclicks or unrecognized gestures. Typing texts and emails was as accurate as any other Windows Phone device, and zooming in on webpages works exactly as you would expect it too.
Windows Phone 8 has been a worthy upgrade to Windows Phone 7, and on the Odyssey it hums along at a pace that makes the phone feel fast and nimble, despite being a lower-tiered device. We had only a few rare instances of lag on the device but most applications opened without any issue and web browsing was fluid during our testing.
Call quality is right where you would expect it to be – clear, loud and on par with every other phone on the market. We had no issues hearing our companion on the other end, and they could hear us with no issues as well. The speakerphone is middle of the road in terms of performance as well, as it neither excites nor disappoints.
The 5MP rear shooter is certainly below that of the HTC 8X and the Lumia 920, and rightfully so, as Samsung had to cut the corners somewhere to keep the device price low. The camera on this phone is marginal, at best. There is a bit of shutter lag, and taking photos with the noise within the images is borderline unacceptable. In addition, there is a blue tint to many photos.
Even though pictures are not that great, the video recording, in well-lit environments, does hold its own when compared to the Lumia 822. Again, it’s not of the quality of a dedicated device designed for shooting video, but for a $50 cell phone it’s not bad, with colors being rich and vibrant during daylight recording.
Even under well-lit conditions, colors are muted as it is more orange in person.
The software that comes included with the Odyssey is nothing out of ordinary for a Windows Phone 8 device. It comes with the expected applications, and Samsung has not done much in the way of creating applications to make their hardware standout. This is in contrast to Nokia, which bundles quite a bit of their own custom applications with their devices – this offer up services that can only be found on the Finnish smartphones.
The battery life of the device is what we have come to expect from many modern smartphones. Under modest use, you could easily have the phone last for the entire work day with the expectation that you won’t have much juice left when you get home. After an “average” day, consisting of emails, SMS, a little bit of web browsing and sending out a few tweets, we had 15% of the battery life when we got home from a 10-hour workday.
Running the battery through WPBench – which is known to have a killer battery life test – the phone kicked the bucket after 2 hours and 3 minutes. By comparison, the Lumia 822 died at 2 hours, 21 minutes, which puts the Odyseey in line with others in its class.
As for other performance scores, the device scored an average of 242 on WPbench and put up an impressive 919ms on the Sunspider score, which easily bests many other budget-friendly Android devices on the market.
When it comes to thinking about the Odyssey, it’s generally an all-around great device for the price point. Sure, if you had your eyes on a Lumia 920 or the 8X, the Odyssey does not compete, but if you were thinking of picking up the Lumia 822 or 820, the Odyssey should be on your short list.
Why you ask? The Odyssey is a lot like the Toyota Camry: while it does not excite the sense by any means, it does everything to a level that is satisfactory and will keep the vast majority of its users quite happy. While no means an all-star, it’s certainly a device worthy of being in your starting lineup.
The phone shows Windows Phone 8’s true power in that no matter the screen size, the power under the hood or the vendor behind the phone, the OS runs well and it does so consistently.
If you were thinking of purchasing the Odyssey, you can do so with minimal reservations. For a budget-friendly device, the Odyssey gets it right.