Samsung’s ATIV S is the first Windows 8 phone

Nokia may be Microsoft’s partner on Windows phone hardware, but Samsung got the jump on its competitors by announcing the first handset to run Windows 8.

The ATIV S, Samsung announced Thursday, sports a 4.8-inch screen, a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor and is just one-third of an inch thick.

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The phone also has NFC and Bluetooth support, 1GB of onboard RAM, an 8 MP rear-facing and 1.9 MP front-facing camera, as well as the the option for 16 GB or 32 GB of internal storage. The phone also has a slot for an SD card.

Samsung has made a big deal, too, out of the phone’s battery — a key component if it’s going to be able to power that screen for the whole day.

In a post announcing the phone over at Microsoft, Windows Phone marketing director Ben Rudolph also said that the phone’s design, which has a rounded bezel that tapers toward the back, make the phone very comfortable to hold.

The ATIV S also has an actual Windows button instead of a capactitive one, a design choice that bucks the mold a bit in the consumer tech world’s seeming war against physical buttons.

Samsung made a series of product announcements at the IFA trade show in Berlin, including three ATIV Windows tablets — two 11.6-inch tablets and a 10.1-inch tablet — that will run Windows operating systems. The larger tablets, the ATIV Smart PC and the Smart PC Pro have styluses and detachable keyboards and will run Windows 8. The ATIV Tab runs Windows RT.

The company also announced the launch of a new version of the Samsung Galaxy Note II.

The new version of the smartphone market’s largest handset will have a 5.5-inch screen, as compared to the 5.3-inch screen on the first generation phone. The HD Super AMOLED screen has a 16:9 ratio.

The new Note has a 1.6 GHz quad-core processor and options for 16GB, 32GB or 64 GB of internal storage. It is worth noting that other quad-core smartphones introduced overseas — including the Galaxy S III — have switched to dual-core chips for the U.S. market. Samsung has not said that will be the case with the Galaxy Note II, but consumers should be prepared for a possible switch.

The Note also runs the latest version of Android, 4.1 Jelly Bean, and will work on LTE and HSPA+ networks. It has an 8 MP rear-facing camera and a 1.9 MP front-facing camera.

Another change Samsung has made for the Galaxy Note is in the design of the S Pen, which has a bit more heft to it than its previous incarnation.

“The new S Pen is longer, thicker and ergonomically designed for the perfect grip,” Samsung said in a release about the phone. The design changes were to give the phone a ”more precise, comfortable and natural writing and drawing experience.”

Samsung executives showed off new pen features, including the ability to preview photos or e-mails by hovering the pen over the phone’s surface as well as a feature called “Pop-up Note” that allows you to jot down ideas or reminders even when you’re on the phone simply by pulling the S Pen out of its holster in the bottom of the phone.

The pen also figured prominently in demonstrations of how easy it is to edit and share photos on the device. With something called “Easy Clip,” Galaxy Note II users can outline and crop any content on screen with the pen, and then annotate it with notes or drawings.

The phone will be available in Marble White or Titanium Gray, but Samsung did not specify a price or release date.

Samsung didn’t directly reference its recent court loss to Apple in its presentations Wednesday, though mobile head JK Shin did hint at the Korean tech company’s legal battles in his remarks. He said that Samsung would make “outstanding, innovative and unique” products, “regardless of any hindrance.”

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