As the era of touchscreen dominance continues on as strong as ever, Samsung is now working hard to become the newest major player to the likes of Apple and Blackberry. The Instinct, Samsung’s first major venture into the world of touchscreen phones, released in the U.S. in June with much fanfare. We knew it would only be a matter of time before Samsung made touchscreen phones for everyone else.
And they did not disappoint. Quite the opposite, in fact — Samsung launched a whole campaign as a result of the Instinct’s success, taking a form factor based on the Omnia model sold in Europe using their Touchwiz UI.
As part of this Touchwiz campaign, AT&T released the Samsung Eternity last week, and I had the opportunity to spend some time with it. I was quite excited to play with it as I had heard it would have this innovative new UI never before seen in the States.
AT&T Samsung Eternity First Impressions
Samsung released the Omnia in Europe with Windows Mobile 6.1 and Touchwiz, stacked with a 5 MP camera and 8 GB total internal memory with capability to expand it to at least 16 GB. Frankly I figured the AT&T Eternity would have similar specs; but I assumed incorrectly. I will go more into specs later.
When I first turned on the Eternity I found the Touchwiz on the left-hand side of the screen, but no WinMo. I discovered that the Eternity was designed more as a counterpart to the LG Vu, a touchscreen phone with AT&T’s Mobile TV service. As a result the menus and touchwiz widgets are basic and simple.
Samsung AT&T Eternity Touchwiz UI
Before playing with the Smasung AT&T Eternity I had never used Touchwiz before, yet it is becoming a Samsung standard on the new touchscreen phones. Essentially Touchwiz is a vertical menu bar on the left side of the screen which features several “widgets” — in this case, icons working as shortcuts to various programs within the phone — in a fully customizable fashion. Samsung also allows larger shortcuts on the main part of the screen, such as Bluetooth and TV.
The UI is instinctive and easy to use. Simply touch the Touchwiz menu bar and scroll up or down to find the right widget, then touch and you’re done. The menu bar can also be hidden to open up additional screen real estate.
Also when on the homescreen, the bottom of the touchscreen shows there are options to dial, check address book, and go into the main menu.
AT&T Eternity Design
The Eternity is formed to look much like the Omnia. The screen and phone size are practically identical to it. It’s easy to fit in the hand and quite light.
Screen resolution is a solid QVGA quality. While not as stellar as the Blackberry Bold or iPhone 3G, I was still impressed by the brightness of the Eternity’s screen. The touchscreen is pressure-sensitive, not heat-sensitive; this means I found it just as easy to press as the iPhone touchscreen. It also “grabs” the screen when you scroll up or down.
On the front we find a large screen with 3 physical keys at the bottom; send, previous menu, and end call. The sides are chrome with various buttons and jacks.
On the right side (pictured above) we find a 3.5 mm headphone jack along with a camera launch button and a quick shortcut menu button. Pressing this particular button is an easy way of accessing popular features on the phone such as messaging, internet and others.
The left side of the phone is simple — volume adjust keys and the charger port.
The back has a very simple yet classy look, proudly showing off the 3 MP camera included.
A microSD card is present in the phone, but under the back.
Samsung AT&T Eternity Features
While Samsung’s AT&T Eternity is not a smartphone, it is still packed with plenty of goodies.
The camera is 3 MP with video capture and video share capability. Additionally the camera offers panoramic pictures, autofocus, red-eye reduction and a “smile detection” feature which will automatically take the picture as soon as a smile is present.
Interested in playing music? The Eternity includes 3 GB internal memory along with microSD support to expand that number. It doesn’t seem like much compared to the 8 GB the Omnia packs, but it is a welcome sight considering most AT&T phones don’t offer more than 1 GB internally. The music player accepts MP3 formats, and can be synced through Windows Media on your computer.
The AT&T Eternity is quad-band GSM/EDGE and dual-band 3G (850/1900; no 2100). It also sports aGPS with Navigation services available, M3 hearing aid compatibility, stereo bluetooth, video share, mobile email, and accelerometer.
Internet surfing is made easy on the Eternity with the Openwave browser offering full HTML viewing. I do wish it would be easier to zoom in and out on specific areas of each page, but still impressive for one of AT&T’s dumbphones nonetheless.
AT&T Samsung Eternity Performance
Overall I found my experience with the Eternity to be enjoyable. At first I was disappointed to learn it would not be a smartphone, but quickly forgot all about that after using it.
The touchscreen was not a chore to use. In many instances, it can be terribly difficult to press a simple button on the screen. Not so in this case. Scrolling up and down was fun and smooth; haptic feedback made it easy for me to know when I had pressed something; and it was easy to manuever around to various menus and pages within the device.
I enjoyed the keyboard on the AT&T Eternity, mainly because it can go into landscape mode when I am typing a message. When used vertically the phone will display a normal T9-style keyboard for predictive, but simply turn the phone to its side and it will adjust to a full QWERTY.
The call quality and overall sound on the Eternity was good. Battery life is rated at 5 hours talk time and 250 hours standby. The phone was light and bright, though I did feel as though the phone’s plastic feel cheapened the phone somewhat.
Currently the AT&T Eternity is available for $149.99 after rebate with new contract. It can be purchased at local stores and online.
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