Review of Samsung Eternity II SGH-a597

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Today I’ve got another Samsung phone review for you, this time it’s the Eternity II that was just released for AT&T. It’s a multi-media and social centric phone with a 3” touch screen. The Eternity II features a full HTML browser, access to FloTV mobile TV, YouTube, music, movies and games and quick access to your favorite social networks so you can keep in touch with a tap on the screen. It has a 2mp camera, but sadly it’s missing a flash and there’s no wi-fi either. On the outside the Eternity II seems much more than a basic phone but it still is at heart really, the interface is easy to use and it’s customizable with widgets panels similar to Android.


The Eternity II comes in the familiar AT&T orange and white box.

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The Eternity II comes with USB style AC adapter, UBS cable, documentation and an inline microphone so you can add your own headphones.

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The phone itself is small and portable, it’s a full touch screen phone, no hardware keyboard. The phone should easily just slip right into your pocket, it only weighs a few ounces so you won’t even notice it really. Below the screen you’ll find three buttons for answer, end call/power and a back button in the center.

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There’s not many buttons on the Eternity II. On the left you’ll find the volume buttons and then on the right is the task manager, lock and camera button along with the USB port.

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The back is smooth with a bubble design near the bottom, and then there’s the 2mp camera.

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Taking the cover off you’ll find where the microSD card and sim card go.

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Specifications:

Eternity II (SGH-a597)

There’s no end to what you can do with the Eternity II. Experience non-stop entertainment on the 3.0″ touchscreen – from live mobile TV to your favorite social networks to thousands of apps from the Samsung Widget Gallery. Plus there’s a 2.0MP camera / camcorder and music player, along with an expandable memory of up to 32GB that lets you store a seemingly infinite number of pics and MP3s.

Full Touchscreen Phone
Your whole world is just a touch away with the sleek and stylish Samsung Eternity II. Everything – from your favorite social networks and personal contacts to live mobile TV and shopping – is all at your fingertips. All easily accessible via optimized widgets you can play with on three scrollable (and customizable) home screens.

Complete Multimedia Package
Downtime is your time. Surf the Web with a Full HTML browser and listen to your fave MP3s with the Music Player. Snap loads of pics with the 2.0MP camera (plus videos with the camcorder) and upload them for family and friends to see on Facebook, YouTube, wherever. Do it all with a memory capacity that’s expandable up to 32 GB.

High-quality Mobile Television
Take television with you anywhere (but leave the couch and cables at home). AT&T Mobile TV is on the air and available on the go with the Samsung Eternity II. Tune in 24/7 for live and time-shifted programming and catch everything from CNN and Fox to Comedy Central and MTV: all full-length and broadcast quality, brought to you by FLO TV.

Widgets Galore
The Eternity II offers access to tons of widgets (financial, gaming, music, and way, way more) that help you organize your life and keep you entertained. Some come pre-loaded, and you can find plenty more at the Samsung Widget Gallery. Manage your widgets at a touch by arranging them in the order you like within the expandable menu.

Social Apps A-Plenty
Live the social life. AT&T Social Net gives you a live connection to popular social networks like Facebook and Twitter, and PicDial lets you update your status with photos. Loopt is a location-based social-mapping tool that shows you where your friends are hanging; find your way there with other great apps such as AT&T Navigator.

Specs:

Weight: 3.2 ounces
Dimension (HXWXD): 112.00 x 53.50 x 12.70 mm

Display:
Size: 3″
Technology: 262K color TFT
Resolution: 240 x 400 Pixels

Battery:
Talk time:  Up to 5 Hours
Standby: Up to 250 Hours

Camera Resolution: 2.0 Megapixel camera
Digital / Optical Zoom: 2x digital zoom

Pricing:
No Commitment Pricing: $219.99
2-yr Contract Price: $119.99
Online Discount: – $50.00
Total Due Today: $69.99

(Price from AT8T Wireless site at time of review)


The interface is a little similar to Android in that it uses panels, three of them on the home screen.

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On the left side is a pop out menu that is full of widgets for many things that you can just drag and drop onto the panels of the main screens.

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I tossed a few on the screens to give you an example:

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Pushing the task manager button on the side brings up the task manager, imagine that right?!

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The dialer takes up half of the screen. It’s on AT&T so I had no problems with signal strength, in Pittsburgh AT&T works fine. Call quality is very good. In fact Samsung sent me an already activated sim card and it turns out that it was someone elses number and apparently they owe some money so I got quite a few calls from collection agencies and Spanish speaking people, which was interesting to say the least.

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Battery life is great, but then again it’s not a smart phone so I expected it to be good.

Pressing the menu button brings up three panels with a lot of stuff on them including a lot of AT&T junk on it.

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Pressing the Applications buttons brings up a list of them and you’ll find a lot of them are AT&T branded.

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Under games you’ll find plenty, and of course the option to buy more.

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One of the features of this phone is Mobile TV, but you’ll have to pay extra if you really want to use it.

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The screen is great looking, even though it’s a rather low resolution. Watching videos is fine really, there’s no lag and it’s smooth.

Web browsing is a unique experience, the keyboard looks like a regular phone keypad when in portrait mode, but in landscape it looks like a regular keyboard thankfully. It also has handwriting recognition to enter a web address. The browser doesn’t rotate automatically which feels odd, you have to go into settings and set it to landscape mode.

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There’s something called Powerchat on the Eternity II that costs $2.99 per month, I’m guessing it’s like a chat line.

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Some of the more useful apps are weather, sketchpad, and calculator.

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I tried the maps but the Eternity II doesn’t have actual GPS, so it wasn’t even close to my position, it was actually about 5 miles off. The maps were also very slow to load and refresh when you moved around them, just a horrible experience overall.

Here’s all of the settings and the tools included:

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The camera is only 2mp, but the pictures aren’t horrible but they aren’t great either and there’s a ton of options.

On the viewfinder you’ll see two menus on each side.

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On the sides you can quickly access resolutions and shooting modes including frames and mosaics and white balance along with brightness.

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Under the settings there isn’t much there, just the basic stuff really.

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There is no macro mode and it doesn’t do well at very close ups at all. These were taken indoors with bright lights and the sun coming in through the windows.

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Here’s some of the effects, mosaics and frames.

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The mosaics add a creative touch to things, and so do the frames I guess. I really like the mosaics actually, at least to play with for a few shots. The only issue is that when you use mosaics or frames it drops the resolution down to 320×240, so they’re cute but not very useful.


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Conclusion:

The Samsung Eternity II isn’t a bad little phone, but it’s not a great one either. I don’t mean that really in a bad way, it’s just that it has it’s little quirks and there are things missing that I think should be in it. Take auto-rotate for instance, every touch screen phone I’ve used will auto-rotate, especially for web browsing, but this one doesn’t and I just can’t figure out why Samsung would make it that way. It does rotate for other things, just no the browser and that makes no sense to me seriously.

The maps are virtually useless, in the time it takes them to update I could have driven another mile and then it has to figure out where you are and it’s not even close.

Battery life is very good, and so is call quality actually. It would be nice if it wi-fi and real GPS, but we don’t live in a perfect world and this isn’t exactly a high end phone. On contract it’s only $70 and I think it’s worth that, though I wouldn’t pay much more.

The junk included is just that, junk, and it seems it’s multiplying. Seriously why do they feel the need to up-sell me everywhere. I know why, they want money, but it’s just damn annoying anymore and frankly it’s takes the fun out of phones anymore. You’ll go and click something thinking it sounds interesting only to find out that if you actually want to use it you have to pay more money. AT&T though is by far the worst at this, their phones are just full of this bloatware. AT&T why can’t you let your customers choose things they want instead of shoving it in their face, or at least separate the junk from the real stuff on the phone.

8

Pros:
+Nice little phone
+Decent battery life
+Easy to use
+Nice looking display

Cons:
-No wi-fi
-Interface can be slow at times
-Browser doesn’t auto-rotate
-Camera could be better
-AT&T junk installed

Grades:
Overall score-8-10
Design score-9-10
Performance score-7-10

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  • Jim

    I was curious if this phone had the ability to change the ‘screen saver’ or ‘lock screen’ images. I returned one Samsung, the Mythic, that did *not* allow you to change the images from cycling through the eight or so pre-installed images, nor did it allow you to disable background images for the lock screen. Instead, you are forced to deal with the 1 in 8 chance that when you pull your phone out of your pocket, there will be a butterfly. Or a flower. Not exactly comfortable for a 30-something male, but perfect for a teenage girl.

    I really liked the Mythic form factor and the TouchWiz interface, but the screensaver was a big enough deal that I returned the phone after only two days.

    Does the Eternity II have this same limitation? Can you change or even disable the screen saver images?

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