Samsung Mantra - black/silver (Virgin Mobile) review: Samsung Mantra - black/silver (Virgin Mobile)

The VGA camera takes pictures in three resolutions and three quality settings. Editing features are exactly what you'd expect. You'll find a self-timer, four white balance settings, four color tones, 14 fun frames, and three shutter sounds, plus a silent option.

The Mantra's photo quality was forgettable.

Photo quality is disappointing, even for a VGA camera. In most of our shots, colors were muted, and objects were blurry. When finished shooting, you can upload them to an online album, share them friends, or save them to the phone. The Mantra has about 8MB of internal shared memory; it does not record video.

You can personalize the Mantra with a selection of wallpaper, screensavers, alert tones, and banners. Using the WAP 2.0 Web browser, you can download more customization options, and additional ringtones. The Mantra doesn't come with any games or applications, but you can buy them from Virgin.

We tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1900) in San Francisco. As a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO), Virgin Mobile leases a portion of Sprint's network rather than operating its own. On the whole, call quality was admirable. The signal was strong and clear, and voices sounded natural. The audio was a bit distorted at the highest volume levels, but it wasn't a huge problem.

On their end, callers didn't report serious problems. A few mentioned some background noise, but they were in the minority. Automated calling systems could understand us, expect when we were in a place with a lot of noise. Speakerphone calls were about the same as voice calls--relatively clear, but somewhat distorted at the highest volumes.

The Mantra has a rated battery life of 5.5 hours talk time. Our tests showed a talk time of 5 hours and 20 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests the Mantra has a digital SAR of 0.932 watt per kilogram.

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