We’ve had a busy day covering Samsung’s efforts to stoke our collective imagination. We’re fresh from our live coverage of the Premiere event in London, where our own Anton D. Nagy is still busily recording and uploading hands-on videos of the newest devices out of Seoul. We’ll be talking about the whole suite of Galaxy and ATIV products on tomorrow’s special-edition episode of the Pocketnow Weekly podcast, but there’s something I need to get off my chest first. Because I’m not quite through waxing poetic about the Samsung ATIV Q. Except this time I’m not talking about the world that is, but rather the world that could be. The ATIV Q has reignited my yearning for a multi-platform handheld device: an Android Windows Phone hybrid.
To recap, if you didn’t catch this afternoon’s above-linked piece espousing the virtues of Samsung’s latest Frankenstein: the ATIV Q is a 13.3″ tablet/ultrabook convertible with a magnesium chassis, S Pen, Haswell processor, and a quoted 9-hour battery life – and it runs Android 4.2 alongside Windows 8, allowing a user to toggle effortlessly between environments, and even providing the capability of pinning Android apps to the Windows 8 Start screen. It’s the epitome of a gadget fanboy’s dreams, an almost fantastical device – and unlike similar products like the ASUS Transformer Book Trio, it’s an integrated convertible, not a multi-part hybrid.
For me, the most compelling thing about the ATIV Q is its ability to run two platforms side-by-side. There’s no reboot required to switch between the two; transitioning from Windows to Android is just a tap and a swipe away. And while that’s bound to be quite useful on a tablet, I can’t help but think of how much more incredible it would be on a smartphone.
A few weeks back, I shared the apparently-controversial view that my perfect smartphone would be a Windows Phone that got along nicely with Google’s ecosystem. While the extremists gave me some grief for my opinion down in the comments, the more
intelligent level-headed members of the community understood the point I was making: versatility is the ultimate feature. Especially for those of us with particular tastes insofar as user interface goes.
My desire for a platform-agnostic feature set, for app parity across ecosystems, doesn’t look likely to materialize anytime soon, though. iOS and Android seem likely to continue their app dominance, while Windows Phone and BlackBerry will probably stay locked in the “we’re catching up rapidly” PR spin-zone for quite some time. But those latter two offer distinct advantages over their more-established competitors: Microsoft’s platform offers an attractive and outrageously responsive UI, while BlackBerry 10 delivers powerful messaging options, alongside the kind of awesome multitasking previously only found in webOS.
So wouldn’t it be amazing to drop the best elements of all these platforms into a blender and pour ourselves a nice, tall glass of epically-awesome smartphone?
But that’s not really possible (even for the incredible minds at XDA-Developers), so what about an ATIV Q approach? What about a handset built with outrageous specifications, manufactured from quality materials to exacting standards, running Windows Phone 8 and Android Jelly Bean side-by-side? And why stop there? Why not add BlackBerry 10 to the mix? Or Sailfish? Or even iOS, if it strikes your fancy? Why is this world of swiping between OSes on the same handheld device nonexistent outside the world of Ubuntu?
Well, because it’s impossible. Obvi. Technology limitations aside, it’s the territorial nature of mobile manufacturers that really keep that dream from materializing. So, you know – sad face.
But devices like the ATIV Q give me hope. Yeah, the Q is a tablet, and its Intel-powered innards are worlds apart from the Snapdragon cores of most of America’s smartphones … but it stokes the imagination. It makes me think that maybe, somewhere out there, someone’s thinking of how to replicate this Android/Windows duality in palm-sized format. Because wouldn’t it be amazing for you Windows Phone-loving Google addicts (and, okay, you SkyDrive-dependent Android freaks) to have a product that truly serviced all of your mobile desires?
Before you scoff too loudly, remember that a crossover device like this has existed, in an unofficial capacity, for years. It’s called the HTC HD2, one of the most highly-respected devices in mobile – so famous that it’s coming due for its own Pocketnow Throwback review soon. So the real question, I guess, isn’t “why don’t devices like this exist,” but “why are they so rare?” Which of course begs the followup: “how long to we have to wait until they’re not?”