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Samsung SGH-a187 GoPhone - blue (AT&T) - Prepaid/Pay As You Go review: Samsung SGH-a187 GoPhone - blue (AT&T) - Prepaid/Pay As You Go

Samsung SGH-a187 GoPhone - blue (AT&T) - Prepaid/Pay As You Go

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Jessica Dolcourt
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Jessica Dolcourt

Editorial Director / CNET Money, How-To & Performance Optimization

Jessica Dolcourt leads the CNET Money, How-To, and Performance teams. A California native who grew up in Silicon Valley, she's passionate about connecting people with the highest standard of advice to help them reach their goals.

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5 min read

Samsung SGH-a187  GoPhone - blue (AT&T) - Prepaid/Pay As You Go
7.0

Samsung SGH-a187 GoPhone - blue (AT&T) - Prepaid/Pay As You Go

The Good

The Samsung SGH-A187 has an attractive design, a variety of e-mail and instant messaging options, and a 16GB microSD card slot.

The Bad

The keys on the Samsung SGH-A187's keyboard occasionally stick, and the navigation toggle could be thicker.

The Bottom Line

The Samsung SGH-A187 has all the necessities of a text messaging phone. Although the occasional keyboard inconsistencies are frustrating, it's a solid choice for a good price.

Samsung's SGH-A187 for AT&T is one of the best-looking GoPhones on offer, and $79.99 is a fair price for a contract-free, midrange messaging phone with a QWERTY keyboard. In addition to multimedia text messaging, you'll find an e-mail client, instant messaging, Web access, a music player, and a memory card slot with 16GB external storage. These are nice features on paper, and in practice, the A187 is a candy bar design phone that's comfortable in the hand and on the ear. The one dark cloud is the keyboard, which behaved itself the majority of the time with the exception of a disturbing seizure in which keystrokes didn't translate to the screen. Apart from incidents isolated to one day of our testing, we'd generally recommend the A187 for GoPhone customers on a budget.

Design
We like the look, weight, and subtle curves of the Samsung SGH-A187, and the handset's Prussian blue color nicely offsets the phone's glossy black face. The A187 has pleasing dimensions, at 4.3 inches tall, 2.3 inches wide, and 0.47 inch thick. Weighing in at 3.1 ounces, the A187 feels good in the hand and just fine on the ear. It's slim enough to slide comfortably into a pocket, although it won't withstand much abuse if you regularly drop it.


The Samsung SGH-A187 is a pleasing prepaid GoPhone for AT&T's customers.

The candy bar phone has a 2.0-inch QVGA display with a 176x220-pixel resolution and support for 262,000 colors. The screen is plenty colorful and bright, though not all the text is as defined as it could be. Below the display is the navigation array. Working from the inside out, there's a square four-directional toggle with a nicely sized central Select button. On either side is a large indented button that makes it comfortable to hit the soft keys, the Clear/Back button, and the text message shortcut. The Talk and End buttons are raised.

Beneath the phone's navigation is a compact QWERTY keyboard with keys that are raised and ridged for easier gripping. Although it's a bit cramped, it's also more comfortable than the similar-looking keyboard on the Samsung Freeform II, and typing went quickly. Yet, we noticed that the A187's keyboard on our review unit sometimes stuck on letters or froze, which resulted in a typing delay at best, and at worst in having to prematurely send the text message or close an e-mail to try again. The device seemed to recover after a reboot. As with many of Samsung's keyboards, there are some shared and dedicated buttons for locking the screen, launching an instant-messaging app, and turning the phone to vibrate mode.

On the spines you'll find the volume rocker, camera trigger, and Micro-USB charging slot. On the back is a 1.3 megapixel camera, and (inconveniently) beneath the back cover is a microSD card slot with room for 16GB of extra storage.

Features
The Samsung SGH-A187 has a 750-contact-capacity address book, with space in each entry for multiple phone numbers, an e-mail address, a calling group, a note, a photo, and one of 10 polyphonic ringtones. The essential features include a calendar, an alarm clock, an audio recorder, a notepad, a calculator, a tip calculator, a unit converter, a world clock, a timer, and a stop watch. There's also Bluetooth support, a music player, and an online storefront for subscription apps, games, ringtones, wallpaper, and more.


A 1.3 megapixel camera is about as basic as you get.

Communication features are text and photo messaging, instant messaging (AOL, Yahoo Messenger, Windows Live Messenger), and e-mail through a dedicated app. The e-mailing client is simple and won't always notify you of incoming messages, like with Gmail, but it is straightforward and easy to use, even if you do have to manually refresh the in-box for some accounts. We were notified routinely of our new Hotmail messages.

AT&T's Media Net browser attends to your surfing needs, though the experience can be pokey on EDGE. It took about 30 seconds to load CNET's mobile-optimized Web site, and expect terribly reduced image resolutions, too--a normal tradeoff in phones of this sort that dramatically speeds up load times. We're glad this phone has Web access, but heavy Internet surfers may want to look elsewhere.


Photos on the SGH-A187 aren't fabulous, but they'll capture your memories.

We're used to 1.3-megapixel cameras providing the minimum in camera options, but this one is slimmer by even those standards with just a single shot mode, instead of single, multishot mode, and mosaic. There are the typical five resolutions (1,280x1040; 800x600; 640x480; 320x240), three self-timer settings, five white balance settings, five color effects, and additional settings that contain options such as shutter sound. Producing a mix of blurred and crisp edges, the A187 delivers photos just as we expect for a shooter of this type. You'll be able to get your point across, but images are nothing special. If you skip adding expandable memory, you'll have 32MB of internal memory to work with.

The music player is identical to those we've seen on a variety of other Samsung phones, with basic controls and room for 10 playlists of 50 songs each, which support MP3s. Music quality will always sound best on a cell phone when you use headphones, and we indeed recommend them here. The A187 is also compatible with AT&T's MusicID service, which costs 99 cents per song identification.

Performance
We tested the Samsung SGH-A187 (GSM 850/900/1,800/1,900) in San Francisco on Virgin Mobile USA's network. Call quality varied, but was mostly strong. Several calls were quite good with both parties agreeing that volume sounded loud and voices sounded clear. One friend used the word "crisp" to describe the voice audio. If we concentrated, we could sporadically hear a layer of white noise during one of our calls, but it didn't obstruct the conversational flow, and our caller didn't hear it. Another call had some light fuzziness that gave our friends a mechanical lisp. On their end, callers described hearing a whisper of white noise that nevertheless didn't obstruct the flow of conversation.

Speakerphone volume also varied from clear with voices sounding true but distant, to fuzzy on our callers' end, with reports that friends had to listen hard to make out our words. Volume was strong on our end, though voices sounded hollow to our ears and sometimes tinny; this is fairly typical for speakerphone.

Samsung SGH-A187 call quality sample
Listen now:

The Samsung SGH-A187 has a rated battery life of up to 6.0 hours talk time and 12.5 days standby time. According to our tests, it has a talk time of 6 hours and 14 minutes. According to FCC tests, the A187 has a digital SAR of 0.73.

Samsung SGH-a187  GoPhone - blue (AT&T) - Prepaid/Pay As You Go
7.0

Samsung SGH-a187 GoPhone - blue (AT&T) - Prepaid/Pay As You Go

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 7
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