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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Author: Brad Molen

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  • abcyesn

    I'm just a lil curious…I want to know when and how much you guys bought your Impression's for…I orderded mine on April 7th from Walmart (or LetsTalk.com…both are the same thing) and got it on April 9th, I got it for 99 Cents with a two year upgrade…what did you guys pay…and when did u get yours? share your price on http://www.samsung-impression.org/index.php?top

  • Kiki

    “same type of touchscreen”

    While still capacitive, I somehow doubt they would use a surface capacitive screen, like Apple does. It's probably a projected capacitive screen, which is more durable, equally if not more responsive, and can be operated with any touch, rather than just a bare finger.

  • Hanna

    I don't understand how to customize and create my own ringtone and no site I visit has info on it. Granted I've only had the phone 1 day (so far I'm lovin' it). I do agree that the lock key is not the greatest and would have preferred something similar to the Nokia 5800, but it is what it is and the phone has too many pluses compared to this one flaw. If you can let me know how to take one of my songs on the phone and make a ringtone out of it I'd really appreciate it.

  • yo mama waz in my bed

    i heard thiz fone frezzes at timez after u had iht 4 a while but the battery haz a long life n u hav 2 charge it every 4 dayz or so but it iz very bulky 2 sum ppl n 2 make a ringtone a song u have 2 select the ringtone den go 2 optionz n pick set a ringtone n if that doesnt work den ur fone iz FUKKED UP big time

  • Ron

    I bought the Samsung Impression A877 3 days ago, so my experiences are still limited. I’ll post again as I learn more.

    I was weighing the Impression A877 vs. an Apple iPhone, and my comments here are based on iPhone features. My fiancee has an iPhone, so I’m comparing the features I like on her phone to the Impression. Also, I use my phone mainly as a productivity tool. The camera etc. are nice bells and whistles, but not a big deal for me.

    Positives:
    Price: I bought my Impression at Fry’s on a 2-year AT&T contract, for $49. Good deal!
    Keyboard: I bought the Impression mainly because I really don’t like the iPhone’s virtual keyboard and wanted the large tactile QWERTY slider keyboard.
    Dataplan: I pay $10 monthly for AT&T dataplan on Impression, the iPhone has a $30 monthly dataplan
    Expandable memory: I can add 8GB microSD card. Since I have a large MP3 collection- about 40GB worth- this lets me keep my music on a collection of microSDs and have them all availalbe. iPhone limits me to 8GB or 16GB with no expandability.

    Negatives;
    BIGGEST negative: No access to corporate email server!!! I specifically asked about this at Frys before I bought the phone, and was told I could access my corporate email server. Cannot be done from the Impression! No POP/IMAP access. iPhone has this. Had I known – I might have gone to a Blackberry. Big, big sucking point if you use your phone for work.

    Another email gripe – only certain email services are supported. I have a Yahoo and Gmail account. I can get my Yahoo mail, but Gmail is not supported. I can only see gmail messages through the WAP browser.

    Maps. iPhone has really good integrated map support with GPS. Very easy to enter start/end locations and plot your route while driving, with turn by turn instructions. Even though AT&T offers a $10 mapping service, I would never bother with iPhone since the built in app is great.
    Impression: has a GPS, but no built in mapping. There is a free Google maps app which I installed. It works, but is much clunkier and harder to use than iPhone’s. I doubt I’ll use it very much.

    QWERTY keyboard: I might get used to this, but I’m finding the top row of buttons is very hard to use. It’s flush with the case of the phone. Every time I reach for the top row, my fingers keep bumping into the case, and it leads to mistyping. Not as bad as on iPhone virtual screen, but still disappointing.

    WIFI: iPhone has built in WIFI, which is better than AT&T’s 3G network. I often find 3G fades out, even in places like my office conference room. WIFI is really useful for a smart phone.
    Impression – nope. It has bluetooth, but no WIFI.

  • catzruledogsdrule

    i want this phone so baddddddddddddddddddd im getting it 4 christmas its 130.00

  • evan

    does this phone have a lock button?

  • Becky

    i love my impresson the only problem is when you go to lock it the keyboard wants to slide out or you drop it.. u have to hold on with both hands to unlock it… cause you have to press and hold and it wants to slide everytime. but other than that I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!

  • Name

    Yes it does, but it's hard to press because of the location. You also have to hold it down to lock it, which a lot of people don't understand. However, to unlock the phone, you can either press (and hold!) the lock button or just slide it open.

  • Kendra

    I going to get the samsung impression for christmas, but im nervous because of all the reviews. Either way im getting it. If it happpens then i will see if i can exchange it for something else. i want it so baddddddddddddddd. I can stop thinking about it. Im getting a cute faceplate for it so it shouldnt damage. I believe it comes with a manual. This will be my first touch screen/qwerty keyboard. I totally hate my flip phone. Very unstylish.

  • marco

    scusate ma dall'italia come faccio a comprarmi il samsung impresion a877????
    mi sapreste dire anke il costo???

  • Tiffany

    I heard you can unlock the phone by quickly sliding open the QWERTY keyboard. Is this true?

  • NickyLove

    For the most part I've been impressed with my impression (pardon the pun). My only complaint is its limited “software range” for lack of a better word.

    I.E. I've been searching for a voip programme and I stumbled upon the lovely fring. Fring looks amazing, but guess what, the impression is not compatible. Can you say lame? It was frustrating, because many of my friends have skype but not a cellphone or that sort of thing. It would allow me to keep in contact, etc.

    Other than that I think the impression is gorgeous. It has it's moments of “moodiness” where the screen will freeze up or it won't send messages (the solution to that, by the way, is to turn it off and then on again and give it a minute). However, outside of its moments, the touch screen is really nice, sleek and easy to use, the data plan is cheap, and it's a GREAT texting phone (most of my friends have had phones since they were 13 so the only way they know how to talk is via texting).

    Overall, the impression is a very beautiful phone and I enjoy it thou thoroughly. :]

  • maddyyy

    I have the samsung impression and sometimes when i try to send a message it wont send and then i have to turn off the whole phone and restart it. Do you know why this is happening? Also, I wanted to know if there is anyway to change the backround of texting. Not the multimedia text but the regular one.

  • Doug

    I am trying to figure out how to get my contacts. I traded in my old phone for this one, and I watched the salesman put the Sim Card in, but, no contacts. How can I retrieve my old data? I would appreciate any help.

  • TG

    YOU CAN get POP3 to work on this phone. I downloaded an app called mMail and it works great. http://www.mmail.pl/ You can try it free for 30 days then it's like only $4 one time charge.

  • Robert

    yess you can these people are dumb you can just slide it open and close the buttons not really that great

  • madZdie

    well i had the same problem. except i got my fathers old impression. i say old but really only a few months. but i wanted to get his contacts off and only have mine because at that time it was both. i went to settings and then to applications settings and then to address book then view contacts from and changed it to only sim card

  • Pie_is_good!

    HELLO! This phone has mobile tv! I got it today. Just go to the Games and Apps section, and go down to MobiTV. I think that's what it's called (i don't have my phone in front of me right now). You need an Unlimited Data Plan though. There are 14 great channels.

  • Pie_is_good!

    NO sorry, it actually has 99 chanells

  • Pie_is_good!

    NO sorry, it actually has 99 chanells