The camera, while better than expected, has some weak spots, the first being the app itself. Unfortunately, the camera and gallery apps only operate in landscape mode, which is frustrating. There are also fewer options and settings than on other Android phones, including Samsung's. There are six shooting modes, including panorama, the fun cartoon mode, and the bizarre "add me" mode, which attempts to combine the contents of one frame with those of another. There are twelve scene modes, like night, indoor, sports, and backlight. There's blink detection and five white balance settings, but just four effects.
Camera quality is getting better and better, and for a flashless 3-megapixel camera, the Illusion's isn't bad, even for well-lit indoor shots. Colors were notably washed out, however, and there is some instance of blurring. Not all edges were distinct. Outdoor shots were usually better, thanks to more ambient light, though they still lacked a lot of sharpness and color accuracy. Video played back smoothly using the same camera lens, without jerkiness or stuttering. It took the camcorder a beat or two to resolve the color profile when panning from one scene to another. There's 2GB of internal storage on the Illusion, with a 2GB card preinstalled and capacity for up to 32GB total.
I tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1900) Samsung Illusion in the San Francisco Bay Area on Verizon's network. Call quality was more than fair overall, though there were faults. Volume was very loud, and I heard a high, persistent reverberation whenever I initiated a call. This often echoed in the ringtone, and in the voice on the other line, at least at the beginning of the conversation. The high-tone buzz often disappeared after time. Voices sounded pretty natural, though there were moments when the network distortion kicked in and voices sounded digitized. There wasn't any background noise, however.
On their end of the line, callers said I sounded OK, but not fully natural. Volume was nice and loud, and callers didn't hear any distortion.
Samsung Illusion call quality sample
Speakerphone volume was much quieter, and I had to notch it up a bit to hear clearly. While a little hollow, it also sounded pretty good. Our callers said speakerphone sounded a little muffled, but generally good. While intelligible, they said my voice didn't sound quite natural--to the point that if I didn't identify myself, it might not be clear it was me calling. The Illusion has a 1GHz Qualcomm Hummingbird processor, which certainly isn't the fastest on the market, but it's definitely acceptable. Apps loaded quickly, and there wasn't any navigational lag.
As for data speeds, the phone rides Verizon's 3G network. CNET's mobile-optimized site loaded in 9.2 seconds, with the full site loading in 21 seconds. Even faster was the New York Times mobile site, which loaded in about 5.5 seconds. About 16 seconds later, the full desktop site finished loading. In addition to real world tests, I also ran diagnostics from Ookla's Speedtest.net. Speeds ranged from 0.36Mbps down at the lowest to 1.51 at the highest, and from 0.86Mbps for upload speeds to 1.03Mbps. The Illusion has a rated talk time of up to 6 hours and up to 10.4 days of standby time on its 1,500mAh battery. According to FCC's radio frequency tests, the Illusion has a digital SAR of 0.62 watt per kilogram.
The Samsung Illusion is a decent little Android Gingerbread phone that won't cost an arm and a leg. Every aspect, from the design to the hardware features to the call quality, works relatively as it should. However, while there are few surprises, there's also little to set the Illusion apart from its midtier peers. Drawbacks do exist in places like the camera software and the hollow tone I hear when placing calls and speaking, but for me those more negative traits alone won't spoil the soup. However, there may be other phones to consider for the $79.99 price, like the 4G-capable , for example.