The Cricket MSGM8 has a 1,000-entry phone book with room in each entry for five numbers, an e-mail address, a birthday, and a memo. You can place them into caller groups; pair them with a photo, or one of six polyphonic ringtones. Other essentials include a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, text and multimedia messaging, a calculator, a schedule, an alarm clock, a memo pad, a world clock, a tip calculator, a stop watch, and a unit converter. Advanced features include voice command, e-mail, a voice recorder, a wireless Web browser, and Bluetooth.
The MSGM8 has a 1.3-megapixel camera that can take pictures in four resolutions (1,280x960, 640x480, 320x240, and 160x120) and three quality settings. Other settings include a self-timer, mirror view mode, five white balance presets, four image color effects, nine fun frames, and three shutter sounds plus a silent option. Photo quality was quite disappointing. Even though colors looked good, images looked blurry and weren't as bright as we would like.
You can personalize the phone with a variety of wallpaper, screensavers, and alert tones, and you can get more Cricket's online store. The MSGM8 also comes with a few games like Where's Waldo and Super Street Fighter 2, and you can also get more of those from the Cricket store.
We tested the Cricket MSGM8 in San Francisco using Cricket's roaming service because the Bay Area is not part of Cricket's home coverage. Call quality was quite good on the whole despite some voice quality issues. We heard our callers loud and clear, but there was a little bit of static and warble at times.
On their end, callers also heard us clearly, but they did say our voice sounded quite mechanical and not as natural as they would like. It was worse with the speakerphone on, since it adds a heavy echo effect to our voice. For us, we heard our callers fine with the speakerphone, though it does sound a little tinny.
The Cricket MSGM8 has a rated battery life of 5 hours talk time and 10 days of standby time. Our tests revealed a talk time of 4 hours and 18 minutes. According to the FCC, the MSGM8 has a digital SAR of 1.27 watts per kilogram.