Samsung released the Eternity two years ago, as part of the first wave of Samsung touchscreen devices, to fairly good reviews. Now they have followed that up with the Eternity 2, another touchscreen device that somewhat resembles the original Eternity, but isn’t exactly a large step forward. The Eternity 2, available through AT&T, is designed to be a somewhat inexpensive solution for people who want a multimedia-rich touchscreen phone, but don’t want to make the step up to a full-fledged smartphone. The Eternity 2 has some good things going for it, like a quality design and FloTV, but are those enough to make up for its price point?
Design (4 out of 5)
The Samsung Eternity 2 measures 4.41 inches long, 2.11 inches wide and half an inch thick. The device is fairly light at 3.5 ounces, but even with a plastic case it doesn’t feel cheap or poorly made when you hold it. The shape of the phone resembles the original Eternity, although the edges on the Eternity 2 are a little more rounded. The device feels good in your hand, both when you are holding it upright or horizontally.
The majority of the face of the device is taken up by the 3-inch touchscreen. The touchscreen is resistive, as opposed to capacitive, and can display 262,000 colors with a resolution of 400 x 240 pixels. The touchscreen is a little bit smaller than the original Eternity, while otherwise having the same specs. The LCD offers sharp colors and good contrast, and the screen isn’t useless in the sun. Overall, the screen is fairly good, although it’s far from the best screen I have ever seen. Beneath the touchscreen are the standard Samsung touchscreen buttons: call, end and back.
On the left side of the device you will find the volume rocker, while on the right side you will find the micro-USB charging port, lock button, menu button and the camera button. Samsung has given each button a slightly different feel, to help you differentiate between them when you aren’t looking at them. On the back of the device you will find openings in the back cover for the camera and the speaker. Underneath the back cover are the slots for the SIM and microSD cards. It is worth noting that there is no 3.5mm headset jack on the Eternity 2, but that is becoming less of an issue as time goes on and Bluetooth becomes more prevalent.
User Interface (2 out of 5)
There is no physical keyboard here, so the only way that you have to interface with the device is through the touchscreen. As I said before, the touchscreen is resistive instead of capacitive. This undoubtedly help keeps the price of the device down, but anyone who has spent time using a capacitive touchscreen will be disappointed by how deliberately you have to press the screen to register your selection. Even compared to other resistive touchscreens, like the one on the LG Encore, the screen on the Eternity 2 is a little less responsive. The phone does offer haptic feedback, so at least you’ll know when your screen press registered.
The Samsung Eternity 2 uses the latest version of Samsung’s TouchWiz user interface. The interface has three different homescreens that you can customize from a list of widgets on a pop-up menu on the left side of the phone. The main menu also has three screens to house all of the phone’s large program icons. Most of the programs and settings are intuitively placed so finding things on the device is a breeze. The phone is sluggish at times, even when there aren’t a lot of programs on the phone, making navigation just a little frustrating.
Features (3 out of 5)
The Samsung Eternity 2 comes with a 2-megapixel camera that does not have a flash. This is a step down from the original Eternity’s 3-megapixel camera, but the difference is actually very small. The camera can take pictures in five resolutions and has a host of exposure, quality and other camera settings. The camera can also double as a camcorder. The picture quality will not blow you away, but is actually pretty good for a 2-megapixel camera.
The Eternity 2 offers AT&T’s Mobile TV, which uses Qualcomm’s FLO TV broadcast system, to offer television on the go though the phone. There aren’t a ton of channel options, but the video quality is pretty good. It will cost an additional $9.99 a month to use the service, and it is not available in all areas. The device also has a music player that can play MP3 and ACC files. The Eternity 2 has 512 MB of space where you can store media files, and can accept up to a 16 GB memory card.
The phone has a built-in GPS that can be used with a variety of programs. The AT&T Navigator program works fairly well, but you have to pay for it. The free version, called AT&T Maps, isn’t worth your time. There is a full HTML browser on the device that will automatically switch to mobile websites if they are available. The Eternity 2 also has a host of small applications, like a calendar, calculator and alarm clock that are all easy to use. Like most AT&T phones, this one comes with a lot of bloatware. Some of the bloatware is from AT&T, but much of it is from 3rd party vendors. I understand the desire for Samsung and AT&T to add a revenue stream, but overloading these phones with useless applications, many of which you have to purchase to use, just makes for a bad first experience with the device.
Performance (3 out of 5)
Phone calls on the Eternity 2 are neither a great nor a terrible experience. There was a little static on both ends of the call, but not enough to make it difficult to understand what was being said. The speakerphone is loud enough to be useful without being overly distorted. The signal strength on the device, both during calls and using data, was excellent.
Data speeds were a little slow, but that’s almost expected on devices that are a step down from true smartphones. Watching video online should only be attempted when you are in an extremely good coverage area, and even then you will experience the occasional hiccup. When you combine the slow speeds with the general lagginess of the device, it doesn’t make for an outstanding experience.
The battery is rated at up to 5 hours and will get considerably more than that during the first month or so of use.
Verdict for the Samsung Eternity 2 (3 out of 5)
The Samsung Eternity 2 has some nice features, is well-made and the drawbacks don’t completely ruin the experience. All that being said, at $79.99 I just can’t get behind this device. For just a few dollars more you can get a decent smartphone that will just blow the Eternity 2 away. I would even suggest that when spread out over two years, the extra money between this device and a new iPhone or BlackBerry is certainly worth it. This isn’t to say that the Eternity 2 is a bad device, but cell phones have come a long way over the last few years and the Eternity 2 is barely a step forward from the original Eternity. If you absolutely cannot afford more than $79.99, or if AT&T drops the price a little, the Eternity 2 is a decent choice as a multimedia device.