Tuesday, March 21, 2006

First Look: Sprint Power Vision 3G Multimedia Handset - Samsung A920

Last week I wrote that I had the good fortune to receive from Sprint a free multimedia 3G handset, the Samsung A920, as part of their Sprint Power Vision Ambassador Program. Since then I've been playing around with the handset (with the help of my 10 year old son), and testing the Sprint Power Vision EV-DO data network and services.

This post will focus on my initial thoughts regarding the A920 handset. More importantly, I then plan to write about Sprint's EV-DO network at a later point in time to try out their Power Vision services .

Before jumping in, I wanted to set the stage that I consider myself a smartphone user.
I previously owned a Treo 180 and then moved from the Palm platform to Windows Mobile with the Audiovox SMT-5600. For my next phone, I'm considering a Windows Mobile 5 handset, either the Cingular 8125 (HTC Wizard) or Sprint PPC-6700 (HTC Apache), but I just haven't been able to pull the trigger. Unfortunately, there always seems to be something better on the horizon.

So while I might be a bit biased, this is a nice chance to try out a handset geared towards the consumer market. Without further ado, here are my thoughts on the Samsung A920:


  • Sound/reception: In my house, which sometimes gives my SMT-5600 on Cingular trouble, the A920 has performed very well so far. Sound quality is clear and loud enough.
  • Size/clamshell: The A920 has a nice small form factor. This is my first time using a clamshell and I like it, since it fits easily in my jeans pocket and I don't have to worry about accidentally dialing someone. The HTC Star Trek is starting to look even more attractive to me, knowing it will come with Windows Mobile 5.
  • Screens: The A920 has a sharp and bright color LCD screen and it is pretty sweet compared to my SMT-5600. The external screen on the clamshell is a added bonus too so you can the time, info or who is calling without having to open the handset..
  • Bluetooth: Setup was easy to connect to my headset and everything works. Sound quality was fine also.
  • Voice command: At the press of a button on the handset or Bluetooth headset, you can activate a voice command, such as look up so-and-so, call John or even call a specific number. I found the voice recognition to be fairly accurate.
  • Camera: I'm not a big camera phone user, but the A920's 1.3 mega pixel camera takes decent shots. There is a flash although I'm not sure how effective it is.
  • Music: The Java music player from Groove Mobile sounds good although I wish you could customize the sound (i.e. Bass, Treble, etc). Stereo headphones are included with the handset, which is nice bonus.
  • Keypad: The keys seem a bit small for my hand and it's taking a bit getting used to.
  • Battery Life: So far the battery life has been somewhat disappointing. With moderate talking (60 minutes a day) and medium use of the 3G data network and multimedia features, I've always have to charge the phone by the end of the day. I have to turn off Bluetooth (when I don't need it) and the GPS location feature to reduce battery drain. Since the A920 is billed as a multimedia phone, battery life with the standard battery could be an issue if you are a heavy data or multimedia user.
  • Speakers/Headset: The speakers sound a bit tinny, but are not bad really. The volumes levels are very loud. Maybe I'm just getting too old, but I'm having trouble finding a suitable level to listen to music.
  • USB cable: A USB cable is included, but its use seems limited to only allowing the handset to act a modem for a PC/notebook. I wish the USB cable could be used to manage files on the microSD (TransFlash) memory card and synchronize contacts, calendar, etc. As it stands now, I have to use the SD card adapter and a memory card reader to get files on and off the microSD card. For contacts, I have to manually enter names, numbers, etc, which is a pain.
While Sprint was nice enough to bundle a 32MB microSD card with the A920, it's like purchasing a new digital camera. You still have to make a separate purchase to get enough memory to store all your content. Luckily flash prices are dropping and I was able to get my hands on a 512MB SanDisk microSD card for less than $40.

Now it's time to start trying to fill the memory card with pictures, music, apps, and video. And that's where the Sprint Power Vision network comes into play. I'll post about my experiences using the EV-DO data network and services over the next couple of weeks...