It is amazing what is happening in the mobile phone industry today. Even non-Smartphones are getting so smart they can do just about everything. Couple a cutting edge handset with one of the new high speed networks and you have a capable mobile multi-media center in you pocket. Enter Samsung and their new MM-A920 available from Sprint/Nextel on the PowerVision network. So, is this the phone for you? Read on for my thoughts. The MM-A920 is priced right in the middle of the current offerings from Sprint and is the first phone to really take adavantage of the new PowerVision Network. The phone is very attractive, compact and chock full of all the latest and greatest multi-media features. It features a real mega pixel camera (1.3) with flash, Bluetooth 1.2, a trans-flash slot (for music and program storage,) music player buttons on the outside and it has no protruding antenna.
Unlike some newer offerings from rival companies, Samsung chose to go with a ‘traditional’ flip phone design for the MM-A920. the unit is about the same size as other flip phones – maybe a hair thicker at 3.6 by 1.9 by 1 inches and weighing in at 3.8 ounces. The Phone felt very comfortable to hold and very sturdy.
The screen is beautiful – it is a 2 inch diagonal TFT display with 176×220-pixel resolution and 262,000 colors. I found that pictures and videos looked very sharp on this screen. The real surprise was in the outside screen – often a poor quality offering on other phones. On this particular phone, the outside screen can boast a128x96-pixel resolution and 65,000 colors – very nice when pictures of your callers show up.
The MM-A920’s uses a backlit keypad with really nice, flat buttons. There are some very nicely thought out buttons on this phone – a dedicated ‘back’ button (especially helpful when navigating the music store or the web.) The D-pad lets the user customize shortcuts and is used for basic navigation. our phone had shortcuts to the media player, the Sprint Music Store, and the applications folder. On the left side of the phone is a rocker switch for volume and a headset jack . On the right side is a camera button and the TransFlash card slot. On the outside of the phone, below the screen are buttons that allow you to play, pause,
browse, and shuffle music stored on the phone or card.
Much of the phones capabilities were covered in Nate’s excellent article on the PowerVision service and the article on Sprint’s Music Store. The phone is very customizeable – from the type of clock on the outside display to the information, background screens and icons on the inside display.
It all starts with the menu/OK button in the center of the D-pad. A very nice GUI pops up allowing you to go on the web, check your history, access the media player, programs, the music store, content, messaging, tools, pictures, contacts and settings. This GUI can also be customized in the settings.
The music supports MP3 and AAC files – not WMA as of now. The sound quality through the built in speakers (stereo) is a bit tinny – but through the headphone jack it was quite pleasant.
The On Demand options and the Music store are all Java powered and worked seamlessly as described in the PowerVision article by Nate.
The Camera offered some nice options – up to a 5x zoom and fun borders. You can used a flash or not, set a self timer, adjust white balance and brightness. I found picture quality to be pretty good for a camera phone. Video was a little fuzzy, but watchable. Video content through the PowerVision service was actually quite good.
The ability to sync your calendar with your PC and check upcoming appointments and set reminders was a nice touch. While not technically a ‘SmartPhone’ – this is one pretty smart device. Call Quality:
The Samsung MM-A920 is, first and foremost, a phone. As such, it performs more than admirably. Call quality was very clear. I found that signal quality was equal to or better than that of my Sprint Treo wherever I went. I had very few dropped calls. The built in speaker was plenty loud and the speakerphone was a nice touch as well. Since the MM-A920 has Bluetooth, it can be paired with most available Bluetooth headsets and car kits. For the most part, the phone paired easily with all my Bluetooth device and worked quite well.
The PowerVision Network is really Sprint’s fancy name for ED-VO – high speed data service. Browsing the web, music store and downloading content was a breeze. This thing is fast…really, really fast.
This is one very capable, good looking and fun to use Phone. It seems wrong to just call it a ‘phone’ since it does so much more. I truly amazed my friends when I was able to listen to Sirrius Sattelite radio, watch ESPN and other TV networks, surf the web and download music effortlessly. Call quality was good, Bluetooth worked as well as Bluetooth can work and the camera was great quality for a cell phone. All this is an attractive, easily pocketable package. Sprint has a winner on their hands. The MM-A920 is still expensive – listing for $350.00 but readily available for anywhere from $99.00 – $180.00 depending on contract and promotions.
Overall Grade: A –
Pros: attractive design, great screen, lots of fun features