The Messager III's phone book holds 1,000 contacts with room in each entry for multiple phone numbers and an e-mail address. As you'd expect, you can save contacts to groups and pair them with a photo and one of 18 polyphonic ringtones. The carrier's MetroBackup feature will store your contacts for safe keeping if you lose your phone.
Other essentials include an alarm clock, a calendar, a calculator, a stop watch, a unit and currency converter, a world clock, a memo pad, Bluetooth, speaker-independent voice commands, and a speakerphone. For communication, the Messager II has text and multimedia messaging and access to MetroPCS's mail@metro e-mail service. Just keep in mind that the latter feature is accessible only through the Web browser, which can be slow and rather tedious.
The handset also supports the carrier's MyMetro service for checking your account status and the @Metro online store for access to applications and games. The carrier has a decent assortment of titles, to be sure, but the Messager III is optimized more for messaging than playing games. If apps are your primary concern, we suggest moving on to one of the carrier's smartphones like the new Android handsets. At the very least, you'll appreciate the larger display.
As we mentioned, we're not happy that Samsung cut megapixels when designing the Messager III's camera. No, a 1.3-megapixel camera isn't a huge difference from the Messager II's 2-megapixel shooter, but a feature list shouldn't shrink as a product line grows. We'd prefer that manufacturers always improve on a previous model, but if they can't do that--perhaps Samsung was trying to keep the price low--they should keep things the same. If not, what's the point of a sequel?
The camera takes photos in four resolutions and offers the usual set of editing options including quality modes, white balance, a night mode, a self-timer, mosaic and multishot modes, color tones, and shutter sounds. Photo quality is satisfactory with decent colors and little image noise. The Messager III does not record video.
Audiophiles can use the basic music player. It's short on features, but serviceable. Luckily, memory on the phone is generous with 100MB of shared internal space and a microSD slot that can accommodate cards up to 16GB.
We tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1900) Samsung Messager III in San Francisco using MetroPCS service. Call quality was mostly reliable, but it wasn't without its problems. On the upside, the volume was loud, and our friends' voices sounded natural. We also didn't have a problem getting a signal, though we detected a moderate amount of static on a few occasions. Also, the audio on our end cut out for a second or two during almost all of our test calls.
Interestingly, callers reported few problems on their end. They could tell that we were using a cell phone, but they didn't experience the static and audio issues that we encountered. Most of our friends said we sounded natural, but we don't agree completely. When we listened to the below audio sample, for instance, we thought we sounded a bit robotic. Granted, there could be other things going on here, but similar handsets haven't produced the same effect. Speakerphone calls were average--the audio gets distorted at the highest volumes--and Bluetooth headset calls were fine.
Samsung Messager III call quality sample
Understand that we don't think the Messager III performs poorly--in fact. it does its job reasonably well--but there were a couple issues that detracted from our experience. Audio quality is subjective; the Messager II may perform exceptionally for you. We just think you should try it first.
The Messager III has a rated battery life of 5 hours talk time and 10.42 days standby time. It has a tested talk time of 5 hours and 12 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the Messager III has a digital SAR of 0.68 watt per kilogram.