As for messaging features, the TXTM8 3G has the usual text and multimedia messaging as well as mobile e-mail. Messages are displayed as threaded conversations much as in instant messaging. Unfortunately, however, the phone doesn't have an instant-messaging feature. As for mobile e-mail, you'll have to download the free app, as it doesn't come preinstalled. You can set up e-mail from a variety of online providers like Yahoo Mail and Gmail, or you can enter in your ISP's e-mail log-in and password, too.
The TXTM8 3G has pretty basic multimedia options. There's a music player which can play AAC and MP3 file formats, with the usual music player controls like play, pause, and changing tracks. Settings include repeat, shuffle, and mute. You can add songs via a microSD card--the phone supports up to 16GB cards.
The TXTM8 3G has a 2.0-megapixel camera, which can take pictures in four resolutions, three quality settings, five white balance presets, and four color effects. Other settings include a self-timer, brightness, fun frames, and three shutter sounds plus a silent option. Photo quality was on the mediocre side. They were a little grainy for the most part, though colors looked decent. Low-light photos were terrible though, because of the lack of night mode and LED flash. There's a camcorder function for shooting videos as well.
You can customize the phone with a variety of graphics and alert tones. Either use your own or download new ones from the Cricket store. The TXTM8 3G comes with a few apps and games--they include Fifth Grader 2010 and Street Fighter Alpha--and if you want more, you can get them via the Cricket store as well.
We tested the Cricket TXTM8 3G in San Francisco while on the Cricket Wireless roaming network. Call quality was average on the whole. Incoming calls sounded loud and clear, with a bit of static and hiss in the background.
Outgoing calls, however, suffered from quite a bit of crackling and hiss. Callers could still hear us clearly so we could carry on a conversation, but the noise was a little distracting. Despite the static, though, callers said we sounded much louder on speakerphone than not, which is a good thing.
Unfortunately, Cricket doesn't offer 3G roaming in San Francisco for feature phones like the TXTM8 3G, so we couldn't test EV-DO speeds. 1xRTT served us well for the most part though, as we were only surfing on WAP versions of Web sites. The mobile version of CNET took around 30 seconds to load.
It has a rated battery life of 5 hours talk time and 13.75 days standby time. The tested talk time is 5 hours and 34 minutes. According to the FCC, the Cricket TXTM8 3G has a digital SAR of 1.13 watts per kilogram.