Samsung Solstice SGH-A887 review: Samsung Solstice SGH-A887

The Solstice offers great photo quality.

The camcorder shoots clips in two resolutions (320x240 and 176x144) with sound. Editing options are similar to the still camera, though somewhat less extensive. Clips meant for multimedia messages are capped at 1 minute, but you can shoot for longer in standard mode. When finished with your shots and clips you can save to the phone, send them to a friend in a multimedia message, or transfer them to a computer via a memory card, USB cable, or Bluetooth. The Solstice also supports AT&T's Video Share service.

As a 3G (UMTS) phone, the Solstice offers the full set of AT&T's wireless broadband multimedia services. You'll find AT&T Video (streaming-video content) and AT&T Mobile Music (wireless song downloads through partners). The experience with 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 (MP3, AAC, eAAC+, and WMA) and it offers useful features, such as album art, playlists, shuffle and repeat modes, and an airplane mode.

The Solstice follows its 3G predecessors by offering a solid selection of music-related features, such as support for XM Mobile, a Music ID app, music videos, and a community section with access to fan sites and downloads. You also get an application for creating your own ringtones and saving music tracks as ringtones.

The Solstice's full HTML browser is workable, but nothing special. It's relatively easy to enter URLs using the virtual keyboard and save bookmarks, but we can't abide the magnifying glass zooming method and the display is just a bit too small for comfortable viewing. Scrolling around the display was easy most of the time, but there were occasions where it felt slightly jerky. Also, since the Solstice defaults to a WAP version of a Web site when one is available (which is usually the case), there should be an easier way to switch to the full HTML version.

The Solstice offers a large number of apps, most of which are subscription-based. They include My-Cast Weather, WikiMobile, Yellowpages Mobile, MobiVJ, MobiTV XM Radio, and Mobile Banking. Gamers can play Tumbling Dice and test demos of Block Breaker, Diner Dash 2, The Sims 3, and World Poker Tour Hold Em 2. You'll have to buy the full versions for extended play. You also can download additional wallpapers and ringtones and you can create your own tones using an integrated app.

We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) world phone in San Francisco using AT&T service. Call quality wasn't the best we've heard. The volume was low, and the audio quality was patchy with audible static. We also had audio fade-outs during most conversations. It didn't totally ruin our calling experience, but we can't say that we enjoyed it.

On their end, callers also reported problems. They had trouble hearing us at times, particularly when we were using the phone in a noisy place like an airport departure lounge. Most of our friends also mentioned the static and audio fade-outs. Speakerphone calls were loud, but suffered from the same troubling audio quality. Bluetooth headset calls were about the same.

The Solstice is a 3G phone that supports AT&T's wireless broadband (UMTS 850/1900) network. Browser speed was slower than we've seen on comparable AT&T phones. A couple of times our connection timed out before we could get the browser started. And even when we did connect, the speed was rather slow. CNET's mobile site, for example, took almost a minute to load.

Video quality was average. As the AT&T Video interface is browser-based, we did experience the same connection problems that plagued the standard browser. Once we were able to get a video playing there was moderate pixelation, especially during action scenes. The audio was fine, and some videos paused midway through. Music quality was mixed as well. Though the external speakers have decent output, the audio isn't anything that you'd want to listen to for long. Headphones will offer a better experience.

The Solstice has a rated battery life of 5 hours talk time and 10.4 days standby time. It has a tested talk time of 8 hours and 58 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests the Solstice has a digital SAR of 0.85 watt per kilogram.

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