Samsung Mythic SGH-A897 (AT&T) review: Samsung Mythic SGH-A897 (AT&T)

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

The Good The Samsung Mythic is a slim and lightweight phone, and you can customize its home screens and menu pages. Its multimedia feature set includes AT&T Mobile TV, and it has good performance.

The Bad The Samsung Mythic's streaming video needs improvement, and its Web browser has only two zoom settings.

The Bottom Line The Samsung Mythic is an admirable multimedia phone with the added bonus of AT&T Mobile TV.

Visit for details.

7.7 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Performance 8

Even though AT&T launched its live mobile TV service more than a year ago, few support it-- the last one we saw was the Samsung Eternity, which was released in October 2008. Now it seems that AT&T may be looking to breathe fresh life to the service by releasing a new AT&T Mobile TV device. The Samsung Mythic has that familiar Samsung touch-screen design with the TouchWiz interface, but it offers a few surprises like customizable menu pages. Overall, we were pleased with the solid multimedia feature set and the 3G performance. The Mythic is available for $199.99 with service.

The Mythic resembles most touch-screen phones that we've seen before. It has rounded corners, silver chrome edging, and it's encased in a glossy plastic shell. Though the front of the phone is black, the Mythic has a burgundy patterned back plate. Measuring 4.49 inches long by 2.06 inches wide by 0.5 inch thick and weighing 3.8 ounces, the Mythic has a slim profile and won't weigh you down.

The Samsung Mythic's design reminds us of previous Samsung touch-screen phones.

The Mythic's 3.3-inch display is quite impressive and supports 262,000 colors and has a 360x640-pixel resolution. Its colors look bright and vibrant, and graphics are sharp. You also get Samsung's TouchWiz interface that you can customize it with up to 33 widgets or shortcuts. The Mythic also has three home screens that you can flip through by swiping your finger horizontally across the screen. You can customize each home screen by dragging and dropping a shortcut from the TouchWiz tray for even quicker access to a particular function.

At the bottom of each home screen are shortcuts to the phone dialer, the contacts list, and the main menu. The same shortcuts are at the bottom of the main menu, except the menu shortcut is replaced with a New Text Message shortcut. The Mythic has multiple menu pages, and you navigate through them as you would on the home screens. You can customize the menu pages by moving the application icons around or by adding and removing them from the menu. Some application icons can't be removed, like those for the Web browser or the music player, but others can, like those for the alarm clock and the camera. Removing the icons from the menu does not remove the application from the phone.

The phone dialer has big digits on the keypad, and we like that you can save a number or send a message directly from the dialer. As for messaging, you have the option of using the T9 alphanumeric keypad entry, handwriting recognition, or a full virtual QWERTY keyboard. Thanks to the internal accelerometer, the QWERTY keyboard is revealed whenever you rotate the phone to landscape mode. The virtual keyboard is roomy and easy to use, with large keys and basic punctuation on the primary keyboard.

The touch screen is responsive and we appreciate the haptic response, especially when dialing and texting. You can adjust the intensity of the vibrating feedback and go through a calibration setting for better precision. For additional customization, you can change the display's brightness, backlight time, transition effect between page swiping, font type, greeting message, and wallpapers for each home screen.

Beneath the display are three physical keys: the Talk button, the back button, and the End/Power button. Both the calling controls are slightly angled and are easy to press, while the back button is raised for quick access. The volume control is on the left spine, while the screen lock key and camera key are on the right. Also on the right is a quick shortcut key that reveals shortcuts to the phone dialer, the messaging menu, the Web browser, the music player, and the games menu, plus an option to end all the running applications. On the top of the phone are a 3.5mm headset jack and the charger jack. The camera lens and flash LED sits on the back. The microSD card slot is located behind the battery cover.

The Mythic has a generous 2,000-entry phone book with room in each entry for four phone numbers, one e-mail address, a birthday, and a note. You can also save your contacts to caller groups, and pair them with a photo for caller ID, one of eight polyphonic ringtones, and one of five vibration patterns. Other basics include a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, text and multimedia messaging, a calendar, a calculator, a memo pad, a task list, an alarm clock, a tip calculator, a unit converter, a world clock, a timer, a stopwatch, and a sketchpad. More advanced features include voice command support, USB mass storage, PC syncing, mobile e-mail, instant messaging, GPS with AT&T Navigator support, and stereo Bluetooth.

The big feature on the Mythic, however, is AT&T Mobile TV. Like V Cast Mobile TV, the service lets you watch live TV right on your phone via Qualcomm's MediaFLO network. It doesn't broadcast via cellular airwaves, so you won't get any buffering wait time. AT&T promises more than 150 simulcast and time-shifted programs from content providers like ESPN, CNN, and Comedy Central. You can get the service for as low as $10 a month for the basic package. You can read our LG Vu review for more details on Mobile TV's offerings.

The Samsung Mythic has a 3.2-megapixel camera with flash