Samsung Mythic SGH-A897 Cell Phone Review
What’s Good: TouchWiz 2.0 offers improvements over previous versions.
What’s Bad: Battery life not great, and coverage is spotty at times.
Despite the smartphone push by carriers, featurephones remain an important element in the wireless industry. To that end, the Samsung Mythic is a great addition to the field, offering improvements in the TouchWiz user interface and an improved design that is similar to the Samsung Omnia II (without the added costs, I might add). Will the device deliver and provide a good user experience?
Design & Features
The Samsung Mythic ships with an AC adapter, a USB cable, an 8GB microSD card, and instruction manuals. Offering a 3.3-inch LCD display with 360 x 640 pixels, the device comes in at 4.49 inches tall by 2.06 inches wide by 0.5 inch thick. Weighing 3.8 ounces, the Mythic is thin and light enough to keep in the pocket without issue.
The Mythic sports a clean design that is somewhat reminiscent of the Omnia II. The left side of the device contains a volume rocker, while the 3.5mm headphone jack and the charging port can be found on the top and bottom of the device, respectively. The front of the device contains a physical send key, an end key, and a back key. The camera can be found on the back of the device.
Usability & Performance
Though it could be viewed as another touchscreen feature phone from Samsung and AT&T, the Mythic (and TouchWiz 2.0) improves upon other featurephones on the market. Complete with tabs and re-arrangeable menus, the Mythic offers a good level of customization. Like past iterations of TouchWiz, the widget bar can be found on the left, and widgets can be placed on the desktop. The Mythic offers features such as AT&T TV, AT&T Social Net, AT&T Music, and e-mail functionality.
The on-screen keyboard that ships with the Mythic can be used in portrait or landscape mode, and I came out with a mixed impression of it. The touchscreen is resistive, so it requires a certain level of pressure to use effectively. I found myself skipping letters simply because I wasn’t pressing the keys hard enough. Though the device showed a bit of lag when migrating from menu to menu (or while typing), it’s not a deal breaker.
The Samsung Mythic sports a 3.2-megapixel camera, and in my testing, image quality was good. It offers a self-timer, flash, auto focus, three quality settings, five color effects, six scene presets plus six shooting modes, five white balance presets, three exposure meters, macro focus, and three shutter sounds, along with a silent option.
Sporting an 1150 mAh battery, the Mythic has an estimated talk time of 3 hours, and in my testing, battery life was short. Thanks to 3G connectivity and a vibrant display, the battery life declines quickly. With moderate use encompassing text messaging, calling, e-mail, and web browsing, I was able to make it about 13 hours before the device powered down. With little to no use, the device lasted just over two days. As always, battery numbers will vary with the level of usage that they’re subjected to between charging cycles, but the device should be fine for the average consumer. For those frequently away from the home or office, make sure to carry an additional charging solution.
I tested the Samsung Mythic in the Charlotte area, and call quality was good. Callers had no problem hearing me, and call quality was clear and trouble-free on my end as well. When I went to a known AT&T trouble area, I found calls to sound reasonably clear, though there was occasional fading. When testing the device in a busy grocery store, I was able to hear my callers without a problem. I successfully paired my Plantronics Voyager Pro Bluetooth headset to the device without issue, and callers were pleased with the clarity. The Mythic offers HDSPA connectivity, meaning that speeds were quite fast. CNN Mobile loaded in about 14 seconds, and the full PhoneDog homepage loaded in 42 seconds. Other data-intensive tasks such as AT&T TV or AT&T Navigation performed admirably throughout the testing. The Samsung Mythic offers GSM 850/900/1800/1900 MHz connectivity, and HSDPA in the 850/1900/2100 MHz bands.
While the Samsung Mythic is a nice improvement to TouchWiz devices of the past, the device isn’t exactly “jaw dropping.” That being said, it’s a welcome addition to the featurephone lineup, and is a device that I can see several individuals carrying – particularly those that don’t want to go with a smartphone. Expect the battery life to be less than desirable, but beyond that, it’s a reasonably well-equipped device. Check it out at your local AT&T retail store.