Developed together with the well-known US network operator AT&T, the new Samsung A867 Eternity will be exclusively sold under the carrier's brand. The handset comes to fill in a niche of buyers that are looking for a cheaper version of Omnia. Even though Samsung Eternity is not a business phone and doesn't carry an operating system, it looks almost the same in terms of design. Samsung Eternity is mostly sold in the States, but unlocked versions of the device can also be bought from Europe, Asia or any other continent, as the phone is quad-band. PureMobile
was kind enough to borrow us a brand new final version of the bar phone, so we're now able to test and review it. Samsung A867 Eternity
was announced in November 2008 and made it on shelves the next year, in January 2009. AT&T began to sell the phone for $149.99 after contract and rebate, but the unlocked version can be acquired for around 400USD.Design
While it may look the same up-front compared to Samsung's Omnia smartphone, Eternity is much lighter and a little bit smaller. The bar form of the touchscreen phone has become a standard for all the latest Samsung phones that are running the famous TouchWiz interface. Pocketsized and with good ergonomics, Samsung Eternity is sure to stand out from the crowd. It measures 109 x 56 x 13 mm and weighs 110g (including battery), which brings it so close to Omnia (112 x 56.9 x 12.5 mm).
The reason that Eternity is so light is the fact that it has been entirely manufactured from plastic. Even the silver stripe that surrounds the phone is also pure plastic, specially painted, so it gives you the impression of metal. The same applies to the back cover of the phone. The front part of the phone is covered by a shiny plastic with good finishes that will be full of fingerprints in no time. The 3.2-inch touchscreen makes up almost the whole front part of the device. You'll notice above it, a little bit on the right of the in-call speaker, an ambient light sensor. The right side of the phone features a dedicated camera button and a shortcut key (Dial pad, Music player, Main menu, MediaNet, Messaging), but also a 3.5mm jack port.
On the left side of the handset, there's a dual volume key, as well as the proprietary Samsung port that can be used to attach headphones, the USB cable or charger. On top of the phone there's a special Hold key that will lock the touchscreen or will wake up the phone if it's in stand-by. There are three available keys displayed under the big screen: the Accept and Reject calls keys, but also a Back one. The latter opens the Calendar function by default, but can be set to open almost any function of the phone. The back of the phone features a 3.2-Megapixel camera with no other improvements. The back cover can be easily removed by sliding it down. Overall, Samsung Eternity seems to be pretty sturdy, but it has some parts, which are somewhat unprotected: the display, the camera, and the plastic casing.Display and Camera
Samsung Eternity embeds a 3.2-inch TFT resistive touchscreen, supporting 262k colors and featuring an accelerometer sensor. The colors displayed on the screen are well-balanced, the contrast is good and the brightness can be set to any desired level. The visibility in the sunlight is medium, which means that you'll be able to use it when outdoors. The touchscreen features the haptic technology, so the feedback when using the display is cool to experience. Furthermore, the usual lag when the accelerometer sensor is activated and the screen is turned in landscape mode disappeared and you won't notice anything.
The 3.2-Megapixel camera doesn't feature any other improvements like flash, autofocus, or self-portrait mirror. It's been left unprotected, so you should take care not to scratch it when you're not using the phone and keep it in your pocket. Consequently, don't bother to make night pictures and don't expect too much quality. The camera freezed my phone once, but I couldn't detect the cause.
The maximum resolution of the pictures is of 2048 x 1536 pixels, while movies can be recorded using a maximum resolution of 320x240 pixels. The camera interface looks much the same as Pixon's, but lacks many settings. It is user-friendly, as you are always one or two clicks on the touchscreen away from any setting or function. While the phone lacks auto-focus, it still takes some average quality pictures. The shots included below reveal some good pictures, but don't think of it as a camera phone, because you'll be disappointed. The pictures are saved in about three seconds, so it doesn't lag too much, but as I have already mentioned above, I think that sometimes it freezes your phone. Pictures can be taken in portrait or in landscape mode. The phone can record QVGA movies at 15fps with no problem, but the quality is much lower than expected.
Overall, I believe that Samsung Eternity wasn't destined to be a camera phone, but I was surprised to find that it snapped pretty well, even though it lacked any kind of features.Menu and Software
Samsung Eternity features the so-praised TouchWiz interface that works very well with the latest Samsung touchscreen devices that lack an operating system. The shaking control and the accelerometer sensor are very functional, and make the device more appealing and user-friendly. The Home screen has a menu bar on the left side that works just like a Windows Taskbar. Samsung's taskbar is hidden, and can be displayed after touching it. You can add or delete any programs or functions you want, by simply dragging them in or out of the bar. The phone has full customization features and can be set to look exactly as you want it to. The control is easy and can be done in two ways: touch and swipe.
The latter will certainly remind you of Apple's iPhone, which is controlled mostly through swipes on the touchscreen. Eternity features lots of AT&T dedicated programs such as AT&T Music, TV, CV, AT&T GPS, MEdia Mall, MEdia Net and Yellowpages. In terms of productivity tools, the device includes: Memo, Task, World clock, Calculator, Convertor, Music player, Photo browser, Voice recorder, Timer, Stopwatch, RSS reader, Games, and many more.
Of course, The Widget is also present and fully customizable. The phone also features a Java emulator, which supports almost any Java application and game. The phonebook accepts up to 1,000 entries and around 500 SMS messages.
The phonebook features an innovative way to search the name of the contact. By simply touching the small magnifying glass that appears in its upper left part and dragging in it down or up, you'll be able to scroll between the alphabet letters.Communications
Samsung Eternity features the HSDPA (3.6 Mbps) technology, besides the usual EDGE (Class 10, 236.8 kbps). Although the NetFront Internet browser has been updated to version 3.5, it still lacks the speed of a Nokia phone. Depending on how much information needs to load, the pages are loaded fast enough with this updated browser, and users can take advantage of the large screen, landscape mode or the mini-map function, which can be controlled with the zooming buttons on the right side of the phone.
Other connectivity solutions include USB 2.0 and Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP support. The phone can also be used as a modem with a PC in case you need one. Unfortunately, the phone doesn't come with any cable for PC synching, so you'll need to buy one.
If you're not an AT&T subscriber and not living in the US, the GPS receiver is somewhat useless, as it only works with the AT&T Navigator application, which is Java-based.
Besides the basic message support (SMS, EMS and MMS), the email client is compatible with POP or IMAP accounts. Furthermore, you'll be able to set the email client to check for new messages whenever you feel like. There are also three IM services available: AIM, Windows Live and Yahoo!.
The quadband (GSM 850 / GSM 900 / GSM 1800 / GSM 1900) -network compatible device has a very good GSM signal reception, even when using the UMTS network. The sound is mediocre, pretty clear, but somewhat low. I haven't experienced any drops in signal reception, or missed a call while talking on the phone. The vibration is pretty intense, so you'll have a low percentage of missed calls even when the Silent profile is activated.Processor and Memory
My guess is that Samsung Eternity features a medium-powered ARM11 family processor that runs at speeds up to 220 MHz. The CPU is enough to run multiple applications in the background with no problems whatsoever. The interface is pretty snappy and much faster than that of LG phones. The embedded Java emulator can handle any compatible large-size files, so 3rd-party applications can be installed with ease.
The phone comes with 200 MB of internal memory, but features a microSD memory card slot to expand the storage space up to 8GB. Unfortunately, the card slot is placed under the back hood near the SIM card, which means that it's not hot-swappable.Multimedia
Samsung Eternity features a touch-compatible music player that supports MP3, eAAC+, WMA, AMR files, but also an FM radio with an RDS function. Both can be run in the background, or you can set their shortcuts on the taskbar in the home screen.
The phone includes no headphones in the sales package, but at least it features a 3.5mm port, which enables the option to connect the headphones there.
The sound quality of the music player is average to low. In fact, I didn't like it at all. The music player features an equalizer: Rock, Pop, Dance, Jazz, Classic, Wide, Dynamic and Surround. The last one proves to be an innovation, as the phone can be attached to a 5.1 channel sound system through a 3.5mm jack. The XM Radio included doesn't work unless you're an AT&T subscriber.The Battery
Samsung Eternity features a 1330 mAh Li-Ion battery with a stated time of 250 hours in standby mode, and five hours in talk-time mode. For a heavy user that spends two-three hours a day talking on the phone, it needs to be recharged once every two-three days, but a soft user should do just fine with one recharge at every four days. Overall, this is a high-capacity battery of small dimensions that barely adds to the weight of the phone. Impressions
After testing the device for one week, I still think that Samsung launched the Eternity on the market too fast. The look and design of the phone are nice and appealing, but it seems to be full of bugs and not up to standard features. The targets of the phone are definitely the AT&T subscribers, as there are many productivity tools and functions included in the phone that don't work otherwise. Overall, Eternity is a nice phone, but fails on so many other levels.The Good
I guess the most attractive features of the device are the huge 3.2 TFT touchscreen with haptic feedback and the HSDPA technology. Another positive feature is the high-energy battery, which was much better than I expected in the first place. The TouchWiz interface, as well as the 3.5mm jack port and microSD card slot are also worth mentioning. The Bad
Just about everything else, starting with the camera, music player and the sales package. There are some software bugs that need to be corrected, as the phone might freeze, especially when using the module camera. The lack of a USB cable and headphones is a real setback for users that choose to buy this phone.Sales package
Samsung A867 Eternity handset;
1330 mAh Li-Ion battery;
Samsung travel charger;