Samsung MM-A920 (Samsung SPH-A920)
Compact, sleek, and crammed with multimedia features, Samsung's MM-A920 may prove irresistible for music and video fanatics alike. Armed with Bluetooth and a 1.3-megapixel camera, as well as access to Sprint's high-speed 3G EV-DO network and the carrier's new but pricey Music Store, this small wonder makes for a tantalizing addition to Sprint's multimedia phone lineup. That said, we wish the phone's video and music players were better performers, and we were annoyed by the partially crippled Bluetooth connection. At $350, the MM-A920 is squarely in the middle of Sprint's multimedia-phone price range, although you can knock the price down to a reasonable $180 with a two-year contract. The Samsung MM-A920 isn't that flashy as far as multimedia phones go; in fact, its all-black shell looks decidedly nondescript, and it's a far cry from Samsung's slim . That said, the twin silver speakers that sit on either hinge of this flip phone will clue in onlookers to the MM-A920's music-mindedness, as might the player buttons that lie beneath the external screen. The handset itself is about the same size and weight as other flip-model 3G phones we've tested (measuring 3.6 by 1.9 by 1 inches and weighing in at 3.8 ounces), although the welcome lack of an antenna makes the MM-A920 more pocket friendly.
Flip open the Samsung MM-A920, and you'll find the gorgeous 2-inch-diagonal TFT display, which boasts a razor-sharp 176x220-pixel resolution and 262,000 colors, ideal for gazing at your snapshots and watching videos; however, as usual, the screen is tough to see in direct sunlight. The internal display is nearly matched by the better-than-expected 1.25-inch-diagonal external screen, which comes with an impressive 128x96-pixel resolution and 65,000 colors--handy when the display doubles as the camera viewfinder when the phone is flipped closed (see). The camera lens and the flash sit on the top of the phone above the external display.
The Samsung MM-A920's backlit keypad was a pleasure to use; our fingertips had no trouble with the large, flat buttons, and we especially appreciated the dedicated Talk/End, Back, and speakerphone keys. The four-way toggle allows for customizable shortcuts; our phone had shortcuts to the media player, the Sprint Music Store, and the applications folder. Sitting on the left side of the phone is the volume rocker and the headset port, which is covered by a plastic flap, while a dedicated camera button lies on the right side, next to the TransFlash card slot. Finally, the music player buttons just below the external LCD lets you play, pause, browse, and shuffle your tunes.In addition to its arsenal of multimedia tools, the Samsung MM-A920 packs in plenty of staples, including a 500-entry phone book (note that each phone number and e-mail address counts as an entry); a calendar with week and month views; a speakerphone, which you can engage only once you're in a call; three-way calling; photo caller ID; a vibrate mode; 98-number speed dialing; voice memos; a calculator; wireless Web access; an alarm clock; and a Java-powered On Demand application with news, weather, movie, and TV info. You also get a 32MB TransFlash card (cards of up to 512MB in size are supported), as well as Bluetooth connectivity for wireless headsets and sharing the phone's network connection with a PC; unfortunately, photo, video, and music transfers are crippled.
The Samsung MM-A920 boasts some impressive multimedia options, including a music player that supports MP3 and AAC files (but not WMAs), as well as music purchased over the new Sprint Music Store. You can also transfer your own songs to the MM-A920 via the TransFlash card but not over the handset's Bluetooth connection. The music player itself is pretty bare bones; it displays album art for songs purchased from the music store, but the user interface is sparse, save for the standard title and artist info, along with a progress bar and time elapsed/total time. You can pause your tunes, skip to the next song, create playlists, and shuffle or repeat your music, but there's no equalizer, and you can't scan forward or backward within a song. That said, we like the player buttons on the front of the MM-A920--they let you control the player when the phone is closed.
Next up is the Samsung MM-A920's so-so media player, which lets you tap into Sprint's catalog of video content--mostly 2- to 3-minute for-pay video clips from CNN, Fox News, ESPN, the Cartoon Network, and others--via its Power Vision service. Once you've selected a video and waited the requisite 20 seconds or so for buffering to complete, the clip begins playing automatically; after that, you can only stop the clip and start over. That means you can't pause the video midstream or scan forward or back, which is a pain if you're interrupted in the middle of a clip. There's also no full-screen mode for the videos, which leaves you with a smallish 1.5-inch-diagonal image; there is a full-screen mode for Verizon's V Cast video player. However, we found that most videos streamed relatively smoothly, with little rebuffering or lip-sync problems.