The Cricket TXTM8 has a 1,000-entry phone book with room in it for five numbers and two e-mail addresses. You can then organize the contacts into caller groups, pair them with a photo, and one of eight ringtones. Other basic features include a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, text and multimedia messaging, a calculator, a calendar, an alarm clock, a world clock, a notepad, and a stopwatch. More advanced users will like the voice memo recording feature, voice command, e-mail, A-GPS, stereo Bluetooth, and a wireless Web browser. We were a little disappointed to not see any instant messaging support.
The TXTM8 doesn't have much in the way of multimedia features, but it still has a music player and a camera. The music player is quite basic, with the typical play/pause and track shuttle controls. Settings include repeat, shuffle, and mute. You get a pretty nice visualizer graphic as the song is playing, but you can't change it. The only way to add music to the phone is to load a song onto a microSD card--the TXTM8 supports up to 4GB cards.
There's also a 1.3-megapixel camera that can take pictures in four different resolutions (1,280x960, 640x480, 320x240, and 160x120), three quality settings, five white balance presets, and four color effects. Other camera settings include a self-timer, brightness, and three different shutter sounds--note there's no silent option here. The photo quality was actually quite decent for a low-megapixel camera. There was a touch of blurriness, but otherwise colors looked good.
If you want, you can personalize your phone with a variety of wallpaper, screensavers, and alert tones. If you want more, you can download more from Cricket's online store. The TXTM8 comes with a few games and applications like The Oregon Trail, Midnight Bowling 2, MyFriends (Cricket's social networking solution that combines LiveJournal, Vox, and Xanga), and MyBackup. Again, you can get more from the Cricket store.
We tested the tri-band (CDMA 850/1,700/1,900) Cricket TXTM8 in San Francisco. The Bay Area isn't part of Cricket's home coverage, so the calls are made over the carrier's roaming network. We were pleased with call quality overall. We did get a little bit of static, but the signal was strong, and we heard our callers loud and clear. We did think their voice sounded a tad harsh at times, but that's not a big deal.
On their end, callers said we sounded fine for the most part. Again, our voice sounded a bit machinelike and it did sound like we called from a cell phone, but that wasn't a deterrent. However, speakerphone calls were pretty bad. They said we sounded muffled, even when we spoke quite closely to the microphone. On our end, the speakerphone calls came through clearly, but the volume could use a boost.
The audio quality from the music player is decent, but nothing to write home about. The bass is lacking, and the speakers give the music a slightly hollow quality. We would recommend using a headset for better fidelity.
The Cricket TXTM8 has a rated battery life of 4.7 hours talk time and 16.7 days standby time. Our tested talk time was a tad less at 3 hours and 9 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the TXTM8 has a digital SAR of 1.3 watts per kilogram.