AT&T’s Samsung Impression A877 Review
Riding on the coattails of the Samsung Eternity’s recent success, Samsung and AT&T have taken the same phone and added a couple extra features to create the Samsung Impression A877.
Rumors of the Impression started flying a month before CTIA 2009, as it was codenamed the Jackfrost at the time. There was heavy speculation that this would be the mysterious “Blackjack 3” that keeps getting mentioned from time to time, but as we would find out soon enough, this was not the case.
Rather, Samsung had other plans — namely, to take the Eternity and upgrade it with a full QWERTY keyboard and AMOLED screen, instead of the usual LCD. And thus, we laid our eyes on the Samsung Impression at CTIA with keen interest.
To be quite honest, this review will be very similar to that of the Eternity because the two phones are close siblings; the Impression is simply the big brother of the two.
New Features of the Samsung Impression
There are a few differences between the two to discuss. First, the Impression throws in the full physical keyboard whereas the Eternity goes all-touchscreen. Second, the AMOLED screen. This organic screen is considerably brighter than a standard LCD, easier to see in the sunlight, and because there is no backlight involved, more energy efficient.
Another minor difference is the lack of Mobile TV in the Impression. This may not be a huge letdown for most, and it’s good to see a few reasons why consumers still can choose between these two phones.
One other thing making the Eternity and Impression different is their design.
Design of the Samsung Impression
While the dimensions are quite similar these phones hardly look like siblings. The Impression feels a bit more bulky due to the keyboard, not to mention a little wider.
The body of the Impression is a bit more curvacious on the edges and corners, adding a sleek look to the silverish-gray device. No doubt it is a sexy looking phone. The screen is also identical in size to the Eternity, with the same capacitative touchscreen and haptic feedback included.
There was one flaw in the design that is very difficult to get over. I had a difficult time trying to press and hold the unlock button on the right side of the device without accidentally opening the keyboard. This, in my opinion, was a HUGE oversight mainly because the unlock key will be used more than any other side key. Ironically, the unlock key on the Eternity is found on the top even though there is no slide-out keyboard to get in the way. This is the exact same spot the Impression should have its unlock key, except it would interfere with the charger port that is already hogging the real estate on the top side of the phone.
In addition to the unlock key, we find a camera button on the right side of the Impression. There is no time lag in getting into the camera app this way, and only takes a couple seconds for the imagery to take form once the camera activated.
Moving on to the left side, there is the obligatory volume toggle and a shortcut button. The shortcut button gives options such as call, messaging, media net, music player, and games/apps. I haven’t found a way to customize this list yet, but am still looking.
Also, not much going on in the back except the 3.0 MP camera and a quasi-solid backpiece to fit on it. Going under that backpiece reveals the battery, SIM card slot, and a well-hidden MicroSD slot that is at least accessible while the phone is turned on. We always appreciate seeing phones set up that way.
Overall Features of the Impression
For many, the iPhone is not an option because they don’t want to pay for a monthly data plan; others don’t like it because it lacks the physical keyboard. This is where those people will enjoy the Impression because it has the same type of touchscreen, easy interface, optional (and less expensive, we might add) data plan and a physical keyboard to use anytime.
Most frequent visitors to this site will know the Impression is packed with features such as Bluetooth, 3.0 MP camera, GPS, haptic feedback touchscreen, widgets, and gorgeous screen. However there are many other features I would like to focus on.
For example, I was happy to see that the Impression has a built-in voice recorder, thus enabling anyone to make their own custom ringtone without special software.
The Impression also uses quad-band EDGE/GSM and dual-band North American 3G frequencies.
I downloaded Opera Mini and used that as my web browser of choice, downloading quite a few other Java-enabled apps such as Google Maps. Yes, I was able to get Google Maps on my Impression — now you’re probably thinking “yes, a way to get GPS without having to pay for the Navigator service!” Wrong. As the GPS is locked on this particular device, Google Maps will only use the old-fashioned method of triangulating your position. In addition, the touch interface was terrible. With many Java apps I downloaded, I noticed only the bottom half of the touchscreen would actually enable touch.
Speaking of Java, Samsung’s lack of Touchwiz-capable apps was another disappointment in my books. We have heard news that Touchwiz has been opened up to devs so we should see some new great apps down the road.
The greatest thing about my experience with the Impression was the AMOLED screen. I found the screen to be absolutely gorgeous when using some of the included wallpapers that were specifically chosen for this purpose. It was easy to see in the sunlight, and was one of the best screens I have used. Not to mention these new screens use up less energy and thus make your battery last longer (theoretically).
Overview of the Samsung Impression
I enjoyed using the Impression. It was the closest to a touchscreen smartphone you can get without it officially being one. The Impression stands up in the crowd of new messaging and media-centric phones that are flooding the market right now.
I really like to see a new phone come out with brand new features that challenge the competition. The AMOLED screen is an example of a feature that will slowly start popping up all over the US market.
There isn’t much bad to say about the Impression because it takes the Eternity and improves upon it, though I am disappointed that there hasn’t been any extra customization options added to the device. I was also bothered by the hard-to-press unlock button on the side.
The phone design is rather stunning but many users will be annoyed by its larger size. If you are looking for a phone that cuts down on bulk, the Impression is not for you. This is where the Eternity becomes the better alternative.
Overall, the Impression is worth a second look but it’s not for everyone. Be sure to check it out and see if it works well for you.
Also feel free to check out the photo gallery below to see the Impression in action.