AT&T did not get much support with the launch of the mobile TV live service with the Samsung Eternity. This time AT&T is ready for a fresh start with its new mobile TV phone, the Samsung Mythic SGH-A897. Although, the Samsung Mythic features the same TouchWiz interface and touchscreen layout, the device does have a few more surprising features as well. Let’s read the full review to learn about its special features in detail.
Design (4 out of 5)
The Samsung Mythic look a lot like most of the Samsung touchscreen mobile phones. It is somewhat slim with dimensions of 4.49 x 2.06 x 0.5 inches and it weighs 3.8 ounces. The Mythic is slightly rounded at the corners with silver chrome edges and it has a shiny shell with plastic encasing. The front part of the handset is black, while the back plate is a burgundy pattern. The phone has a 3.3 inch display with three home screen options. Just below each of the home screens you can see shortcut options to the main menu, phone dialer and contacts list. The phone has more than one menu page, which you can navigate through like the home screens. Moving around the apps icons, and adding or removing them can further customize the menu pages.
The Samsung Mythic’s handset dialer has larger digits on its keypad and you can send a message or save a number directly from there. Additionally, for messaging there are options for a virtual full-functional spacious QWERTY keyboard with large keys and basic punctuation, T9 alphanumeric keys and handwriting recognition. The in-built accelerometer reveals the keyboard whenever the phone is rotated to the landscape view. The Samsung SGH-A897 has quite a responsive touchscreen with adjustable calibration settings and vibrating feedback intensity. Additional customization includes, wallpapers, font type, backlight time, display brightness and the transition time between the page swipes for each of the home screens.
Just below the display of the phone, the Samsung Mythic sports 3 physical keys - the Back, the End or Power and the Talk button. The ‘Back’ button is slightly raised for easy access, while the calling controls are a bit angled for easy pressing. The left side of the phone contains the volume rocker with screen lock and camera button sitting on the right. The right spine contains an additional shortcut key, which takes you to the Mythic’s music player, Web Browser, phone dialer, games menu, messaging menu and a mode to end-up all the applications that are running on your Samsung Mythic SGH-A897 phone. The top part of the phone consists of the charger jack and a headset jack of 3.5mm, while the back contains the flash LED and the lens of the camera. At the back of the battery cover of the Mythic sits the slot for microSD card.
User Interface (4 out of 5)
The Samsung Mythic is an admirable touchscreen phone featuring the manufacturer’s TouchWiz user interface, just like the Samsung Instinct. The Mythic’s Samsung TouchWiz interface lets you drag and drop shortcuts or widgets for most of the common tasks on the home page panel. It includes shortcuts to Facebook, MySpace WAP pages as well as music and mobile TV apps too. You can even scroll through the menus with flicks of your finger and move the icons around too.
Features (4 out of 5)
The Samsung Mythic SGH-A897 has a phone book of 2,000 entries with spaces in each of the entries for an email, a birthday, a note and four phone numbers. Moreover, you can assign the contacts to groups, give a photo, any one from the five vibration settings and any one from the 8 polyphonic ringtones. Other basic features of the phone include a calendar, task list, a speakerphone, memopad, alarm-clock, world-clock, sketchpad, timer, a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, a unit converter and a tip calculator. Among the advanced features, the Mythic includes mobile email, stereo Bluetooth, PC syncing, support for voice command, instant messaging, AT&T Navigator with GPS support service and USB mass storage.
The Samsung Mythic has an impressive display with a 360 x 640 pixel resolution and supporting 262,000 colors. You can turn through each of three homescreens by horizontal swiping of your finger. The homescreens are further customizable via drag-and-drop shortcuts from the TouchWiz tray for quicker access. The Samsung’s TouchWiz interface can be customized with 33 widgets or shortcuts. The 3.2-megapixel built-in camera of the phone is capable of taking pictures with 6 different resolutions starting from 2048x1536 to 640x360 pixels. Additional settings of the camera include a self-timer, auto focus, 3 quality settings, 3 exposure meters, flash, macro focus, 5 white balance presets, 5 color effects, 6 scene presets, 6 shooting modes and 3 shutter sounds with a silent mode.
The Samsung Mythic also features a built-in camcorder that is capable of recording videos with two different resolutions with sound or without sound. There’s no scene presets or shooting modes for the camcorder, it can shoot video either in MMS mode with a 1 minute time limitation or in default mode without any time limit. The Mythic also supports AT&T’s Video Share along with AT&T’s Mobile Video, streaming video and Mobile Music too. The most outstanding feature of the Mythic is AT&T’s Mobile TV that lets you watch TV live on your phone, just like V Cast Mobile TV. AT&T provides over 150 simulcast and time-shifted programs from well-known content providers such as CNN, Comedy Central and ESPN. The services are offered to you for just $10 a month for the basic package.
The Samsung Mythic has a new HTML browser from AT&T just like the Samsung Flight. You get 3 different welcome screens, two of which are for popular and local Web links. The phone further offers an arrangement of Internet bookmarking that can be customized by getting into the AT&T account and then sending shortcuts through the ‘Send to Mobile’ feature from your PC. There is a lot more that you can do with the Web pages. A few of the other apps that come with your Samsung Mythic mobile phone include Mobile Banking, WikiMobile, My-Cast Weather, Where, MobiVJ, Yellow Pages Mobile, MusicID 2 and Juicecaster. There are games too such as the World Poker Tour Hold EM-2, I-play Bowling, Block Breaker Deluxe, Bejeweled and Tumbling Dice. You can also download more ringtones, apps, graphics and games via the AT&T’s mobile apps store.
Performance (4 out of 5)
The Samsung Mythic quad-band phone featured good call quality when tested using AT&T services. Even though the voice might appear a little harsh it has very little distortion. The automated call system feature performed quite well and the speakerphone was decent too with some echo. The music quality of the Mythic is satisfactory though not very good, but a headset is certainly recommended for a better result.
The 3G service on the Samsung SGH-A897 is very satisfactory with a few seconds of buffering time when video streaming, the video quality is, however, pixelated. AT&T’s Mobile TV has much faster response time with almost no delay for loading. The picture quality in this case is sharper than that of video streaming, although not that of HD. The Samsung Mythic battery life is rated at 3 hours of talking time and standby time of 10.5 days. The talk time tested showed 3 hours 13 minutes and has 0.06-watt per kilogram of digital SAR.
The Verdict (4 out of 5)
The Samsung Mythic SGH-A897 is a lightweight and slim multimedia phone with the additional feature of AT&T’s Mobile TV. Even though the Mythic’s Web browser and video streaming needs improvement, still it is a good performing phone and a great buy for $199 with a two year contract after rebates. Overall, AT&T’s Samsung Mythic touchscreen mobile phone deserves a good score.