Samsung's SGH-A187 for AT&T is one of the best-looking GoPhones on offer, and $79.99 is a fair price for a contract-free, midrange messaging phone with a QWERTY keyboard. In addition to multimedia text messaging, you'll find an e-mail client, instant messaging, Web access, a music player, and a memory card slot with 16GB external storage. These are nice features on paper, and in practice, the A187 is a candy bar design phone that's comfortable in the hand and on the ear. The one dark cloud is the keyboard, which behaved itself the majority of the time with the exception of a disturbing seizure in which keystrokes didn't translate to the screen. Apart from incidents isolated to one day of our testing, we'd generally recommend the A187 for GoPhone customers on a budget.
We like the look, weight, and subtle curves of the Samsung SGH-A187, and the handset's Prussian blue color nicely offsets the phone's glossy black face. The A187 has pleasing dimensions, at 4.3 inches tall, 2.3 inches wide, and 0.47 inch thick. Weighing in at 3.1 ounces, the A187 feels good in the hand and just fine on the ear. It's slim enough to slide comfortably into a pocket, although it won't withstand much abuse if you regularly drop it.
The candy bar phone has a 2.0-inch QVGA display with a 176x220-pixel resolution and support for 262,000 colors. The screen is plenty colorful and bright, though not all the text is as defined as it could be. Below the display is the navigation array. Working from the inside out, there's a square four-directional toggle with a nicely sized central Select button. On either side is a large indented button that makes it comfortable to hit the soft keys, the Clear/Back button, and the text message shortcut. The Talk and End buttons are raised.
Beneath the phone's navigation is a compact QWERTY keyboard with keys that are raised and ridged for easier gripping. Although it's a bit cramped, it's also more comfortable than the similar-looking keyboard on the, and typing went quickly. Yet, we noticed that the A187's keyboard on our review unit sometimes stuck on letters or froze, which resulted in a typing delay at best, and at worst in having to prematurely send the text message or close an e-mail to try again. The device seemed to recover after a reboot. As with many of Samsung's keyboards, there are some shared and dedicated buttons for locking the screen, launching an instant-messaging app, and turning the phone to vibrate mode.
On the spines you'll find the volume rocker, camera trigger, and Micro-USB charging slot. On the back is a 1.3 megapixel camera, and (inconveniently) beneath the back cover is a microSD card slot with room for 16GB of extra storage.
The Samsung SGH-A187 has a 750-contact-capacity address book, with space in each entry for multiple phone numbers, an e-mail address, a calling group, a note, a photo, and one of 10 polyphonic ringtones. The essential features include a calendar, an alarm clock, an audio recorder, a notepad, a calculator, a tip calculator, a unit converter, a world clock, a timer, and a stop watch. There's also Bluetooth support, a music player, and an online storefront for subscription apps, games, ringtones, wallpaper, and more.
Communication features are text and photo messaging, instant messaging (AOL, Yahoo Messenger, Windows Live Messenger), and e-mail through a dedicated app. The e-mailing client is simple and won't always notify you of incoming messages, like with Gmail, but it is straightforward and easy to use, even if you do have to manually refresh the in-box for some accounts. We were notified routinely of our new Hotmail messages.