Essential features include a vibrate mode, a file manager, text and multimedia messaging, a calendar, a to-do list, an alarm clock, a world clock, a calculator, and a currency converter. You'll also find Bluetooth, an e-book reader, video recoding, call recoding and a speakerphone. The Duet D888 has only 0.75MB of memory, but you get a 1GB microSD card in the box.
The Duet D888 offers a fair number of multimedia options. There's a 2-megapixel camera with video recording, an FM radio, a video player and a music player. Most offerings, particularly the music player, are very basic. You won't find many editing and user options, but there are a couple of unexpected finds. You can schedule a recording of the FM radio, and you even get a rudimentary form of mobile television. The quality was horrible, and we weren't sure what we were watching, but it is there if you want it. For both the radio and the mobile TV, the phone has an extendable antenna that has a surprisingly sturdy construction. We like that you don't have to use the included headset to get reception. You'll also find a USB cable in the box for easy transfer of music files.
National Geographic puts a bit of content on the phone, but not much. You'll find a selection of travel and animal-themed wallpaper and animal ringtones, but that's it. As we said with National Geographic's previous phones, we were hoping for a bit more. And while we're on the subject, a unit converter would be ideal on a phone for frequent travelers. Gaming options are limited, as well. You get just two titles: Mahjong and Magic Sushi.
As mentioned previously, the Duet D888 comes with a prepaid SIM card from Cellular Abroad. The card has a United Kingdom phone number, which is great if you're traveling in Western Europe, but not so great if you're anywhere else. Luckily, Cellular Abroad sells SIM card for other reasons--we used a prepaid Telstra card when testing the phone in Australia.
Calling rates will vary by country. To call the United States while abroad you'll pay a reasonable 90 cents per minute in most of Europe. Yet, in Canada and some Caribbean nations you'll pay $2.70 per minute to call home. How Canada is more expensive than Latvia is beyond us. On the other hand, you get free incoming calls in 60 counties and the rates will be generally less expensive than the international roaming rates for most U.S. carriers. And of course, you can always use a second SIM card beyond the one supplied to you.
We tested the Duet D888 in Australia using Telstra and Optus in Sydney, Brisbane, and the area around Cairns, Queensland. In the United States, we made calls in San Francisco using T-Mobile and AT&T. In both countries, call quality was relatively good--not perfect, but certainly suitable for occasional use. We had a strong signal in most environments, even is rural areas, though the signal sometimes faded in buildings depending on the carrier. Voices sounded natural and the volume was loud, yet we did notice a hint of background noise.
On the end, callers said we sounded fine overall. They could tell we were using a cell phone, but they could hear and understand us in most environments. Their only complaint was that they said the phone picked up wind noise easily. Speakerphone calls were just average--the volume loud but the audio was distorted at times.
The Duet D888 has a battery life of 4 hours talk time and 5.4 days standby time. The latter rating is rather short, but you do get that second battery. However, you must charge it in the phone. Our tests showed a talk time of 4 hours and 14 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the D888 has a digital SAR of 0.320 watts per kilogram.