Samsung Eternity (AT&T) review: Samsung Eternity (AT&T)

The Eternity lacks a flash and a self-portrait mirror.

The 3-megapixel camera has many of the same features as the Behold's 5-megapixel shooter. It takes pictures in four resolutions, from 2,048x1,536 down to a 400x240 "wide" resolution that uses the full expanse of the Eternity's display. Other editing options include four quality settings, exposure metering, a self-timer, an autofocus, six "scene" settings (night, landscape, action, etc.), onscreen gridlines, brightness and white balance, four color effects, and three shutter sounds, plus a silent option. You also can use three shooting modes (continuous, panorama, and mosaic), 16 fun frames, and a "smile shot" mode that promises to detect when a subject is smiling. If it "sees" a frown it will shoot again. Unfortunately, there's no flash, which is a big miss on a 3-megapixel camera.

The Eternity's camcorder shoots clips with sound in two resolutions (320x240 and 176x144). Camcorder options are fewer than on the still camera, but it's a decent assortment. Clips meant for multimedia messages are capped at about 1 minute, but you can shoot for much longer in the standard mode. The Eternity has a generous 200MB of internal memory, but you can use a microSD-card slot for more space. The camera menus are simple and easy to use.

The Eternity takes nice photos, even if they're slightly out of focus at times.

Photo quality on the Eternity was quite good. Colors were bright and there was little image noise. Without a flash you will need adequate light at all times, and even then our shots were a bit dim. Also, the focus could be sharper. Videos were fair, better than on many camera phones, but hardly anything for filming special family moments. Getting photos off the phone is easy using Bluetooth, a multimedia message, or a USB cable.

The Eternity supports Assisted GPS and the AT&T Navigator service for turn-by-turn directions. What's more, you can use the Where and the YellowPages Mobile apps. Other services include WikiMobile, My-Cast Weather, and Mobile Banking. On the offbeat side, a Tumbling Device app lets you roll a pair of virtual device right on your display. You'll also get AT&T Mobile TV, which is a live TV service that uses Qualcomm's MediaFLO technology. It brings more than 150 simulcast and time-shifted programs from content providers such as CBS, ESPN, Comedy Central, ESPN, Fox, MTV, NBC. Though it's available in multiple cities nationwide, AT&T has yet to turn on the service in the San Francisco Bay Area, so we were unable to test it. Yet, we were impressed with the quality when we've tested it on other phones while in Las Vegas.

As a 3G UMTS handset, the Eternity supports AT&T's Cellular Video service, which offers tons of streaming-video content, and AT&T Mobile Music, which brings wireless song downloads through a variety of partners. The experience on the two applications is similar to that on other AT&T phones; both are minimalist in their designs, but the music player supports a wide variety of file formats and it offers useful features, such as album art, playlists, and shuffle and repeat modes. The Eternity also has a solid selection of music-related features, such as support for XM Radio Mobile, Pandora, MusicVJ, a Music ID application, a Billboard Mobile channel, music videos, and a community section with access to fan sites and downloads.

You can personalize the Eternity with a variety of background colors, wallpaper, and alert tones, and you can type your own greeting message. If you want more options and additional ringtones, you can download them from AT&T's Media Mall service. The Eternity offers demo versions of four games: Block Breaker, Ms. Pac-Man, World Series of Poker, and Monopoly. You can buy the full versions and additional titles from AT&T.

We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800 1900; UMTS 860/1900) Samsung Eternity in San Francisco using AT&T service. Call quality was mostly satisfying. We enjoyed a clear signal with little static or interference. Our callers' voices sounded natural, but we noticed that the sound became slightly distorted at the highest level. It wasn't a huge deal, but the sound had a muffled tone. Yet, because the volume level was a tad low, we had to turn up the sound pretty high in order to hear in noisy locations. There was also a slight amount of GSM buzz, but it was minimal. Bluetooth headset calls were fine as well.

On their end, callers said we sounded fine most of the time. They also had trouble hearing us at times; a few said the phone picked up a lot of wind noise, but most reports were positive. Similarly, automated calling systems could understand us, but only if we were in a quiet room. Speakerphone calls had about the same audio quality. The volume could be louder and we had to speak close to the phone to be understood. The speaker's minimal low output also is apparent when listening to music. A headset will provide the best experience.

The 3G connection was just above average. When using the Web browser, some pages took more than a few seconds to load, and at times the pages were a tad sluggish when we were scrolling around. Streaming videos also took longer to load than we expected, but they performed well once they were up and running. Our videos never froze or dropped the connection.

The Eternity has a rated battery life of 5 hours talk time and 10.42 days standby time. Our tests reveal an impressive talk time of 14 hours and 18 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the Eternity has a digital SAR rating of 0.194 watt per kilogram.