AT&T 8525 review:

AT&T 8525

Though the microSD format isn't widespread, we still appreciate the expandable media.

With the full QWERTY keyboard, an obvious draw for the 8525 is e-mail. Outlook Mobile is included, and push e-mail capability is available through several solutions, including AT&T Xpress Mail, Good Mobile Messaging, and Microsoft Direct Push. Contact your friendly IT staff for help setting up your corporate e-mail (Microsoft Exchange or Lotus Notes). The 8525 also can access personal e-mail accounts (POP3 and IMAP4), and AT&T has recently updated the Xpress Mail so you can do the entire setup right on the device. We tested this feature by trying to configure our Yahoo account, and after downloading the Xpress Mail application and entering our user ID and password, we started receiving our messages within 15 minutes. The AT&T 8525 also supports instant, text, and multimedia messaging.

As for voice features, the AT&T 8525 is a quad-band world phone so you can use it almost anywhere in the world. The 8525 is scheduled to have push-to-talk capabilities, when AT&T activates this feature for the phone in early 2007. The address book is only limited by the available memory (the SIM card holds an additional 250 contacts), and can store up to 12 numbers for a single entry as well as home and work addresses, an e-mail address, an IM screen name, a birthday, and a spouse's name. For caller ID purposes, you can pair a contact with a photo, a caller group, or one of 31 ringtones. You also get a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, and voice dialing. Though not available at launch, the AT&T 8525 now supports push-to-talk capabilities. PTT plans start at $9.99 per month, and with it, you can instantly see the availability of your contacts before calling them and make individual or group PTT calls.

Aside from the above, the AT&T 8525 offers the full gamut of wireless options--Bluetooth 2.0, Wi-Fi (802.11b/g), and infrared--all of which you can manage via the Comm Manager utility. The 8525 supports a number of the latest Bluetooth profiles, including A2DP for stereo headsets, dial-up networking, wireless headsets, and car kits. You also can use the Bluetooth to connect to a GPS receiver and take advantage of AT&T's new location-based service,TeleNav GPS Navigator, and get driving directions and color maps right on your device. The service costs $9.99 per month for unlimited use or $5.99 per month for up to 10 trips.

The AT&T 8525 features an upgraded 2-megapixel camera with a built-in flash and self-portrait mirror.

As an all-in-one device, the AT&T 8525 boasts a nice set of multimedia capabilities to handle your entertainment needs. Windows Media Player 10 Mobile is onboard so you can listen to your favorite MP3, WAV, WMA, AAC, and AMR music files; you also get album art, and WMP 10 Mobile is compatible with all PlaysForSure online stores. The smart phone can handle MPEG-4 video streaming, and if you have TV shows recorded on your Media Center PC, you can transfer them to your device for on-the-go viewing. In addition, the 8525 now works with the AT&T Video and AT&T Music services. Boasted by the 3G support, you can watch clips of The Daily Show, Access Hollywood, ESPN sports highlights, and a few other videos, as well as purchase songs from independent music services, such as Napster to Go and Yahoo Music. AT&T Music also includes streaming XM satellite radio, music videos, and MusicID for identifying song titles and artists.

The 8525 has shot some impressive photos with sharp edges and bright colors.

The 8525 features an upgraded camera over its predecessor. While the AT&T 8125 sported a 1.3-megapixel lens, the 8525 bumps it up to 2 megapixels and offers eight capture modes: photo, video, MMS video, contacts picture, picture theme, panorama, sports, and burst. For still images, you can take photos in several resolutions, ranging from 160x120 to 1,600x1,200 pixels, and four quality settings (basic, normal, fine, and super fine). You also get an 8x zoom (though not available for all resolutions), a self-timer, various effects, and white balance and saturation settings. The options are a bit more limited in video mode, but you can record clips with sound in MPEG-4 format and choose from one of four resolutions (128x96, 176x144, 320x240, and 352x288). Video quality was as we expected from a camera phone, which is to say, not great. It's fine if you're in a pinch and really need to capture something, but definitely not worth ditching your camcorder over. We are more impressed with the photo quality as the images boasted sharp lines and bright colors.

We tested the AT&T 8525 (GSM 850/900/1800/1900; EDGE; UMTS; HSDPA) in San Francisco and call quality was excellent. Despite some very minor background hiss, we could hear our friends loud and clear, and our callers were particularly impressed with the clarity of sound and said they couldn't tell we were using a cell phone. Better yet, activating the speakerphone didn't have an adverse effect on the audio and volume was more than adequate. We also were able to pair the smart phone with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset without any problems.

We enjoyed fairly snappy performance from the AT&T 8525. We were able to stream video without a hitch, though the quality wasn't the greatest. Music playback was decent via the phone's speakers but much improved once we plugged in the stereo headset.

The AT&T 8525's battery is rated for 4 hours of talk time and up to 8.3 days of standby time. In our battery drain tests, we were able to get a solid 6 hours of talk time before calling it kaput. According to FCC radiation tests, the AT&T 8525 has a digital SAR rating of 0.34 watts per kilogram.

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