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Trends Samsung Acclaim SCH-R880

High Technology Product Reviews | Trends Samsung Acclaim SCH-R880
The Samsung Acclaim ($79.99 direct) is a fine handset with one main problem: it isn't as powerful as the HTC Desire, our current Editors' Choice for US Cellular phones. Instead, it's in that lower tier of Android smartphones which cost less up front, but are slower and not quite as easy to use. If you want a hardware keyboard and a touch screen in one handset, the Acclaim will get the job done, but it doesn't stand out otherwise.

Specifications
Service Provider
US Cellular
Screen Size
3.2 inches
Screen Details
320-by-480, 65K-color TFT LCD capactive touch screen
Camera
Yes
Network
CDMA
Bands
850, 1900
High-Speed Data
1xRTT, EVDO Rev 0
Processor Speed
800 MHz
Design, Call Quality, and Apps
The Acclaim measures 4.5 by 2.3 by 0.6 inches and weighs 4.6 ounces. It's actually a few tenths of an ounce lighter than the HTC Desire, despite the fact that the Acclaim includes a slide-out QWERTY keyboard and the Desire doesn't. The plastic body is a combination of glossy and matte plastics, with a metallic slate-colored back panel. The effect is pleasant, if somewhat staid. The 3.2-inch screen has only 320-by-480-pixel resolution, which is another cue that the Acclaim resides at the lower end of the Android-sphere. The LCD screen looks bright enough, but it doesn't come near Samsung's higher-end AMOLED displays in sharpness or color vibrancy.

Below the screen, there's an optical sensor and four touch keys. I always find optical sensors and trackballs superfluous on touch screen devices, but it's there if you need it. The four-row keyboard features flat, recessed, rubber keys that are a little stiff to type on. At least they're mostly silent. Number keys get their own row at the top.

The Acclaim is a dual-band EV-DO Rev 0 (850/1900 MHz) device with 802.11b/g Wi-Fi. Note that it's Rev 0, not Rev A, which means it won't get US Cellular's maximum 3G speeds. It's a stellar voice phone; callers sounded clear and full in both directions, with plenty of gain in the earpiece, and a warm tone overall. Reception was good. Calls also sounded clear through an Aliph Jawbone Icon ($99, 4 stars) Bluetooth headset. Thankfully, this is one Android device with voice dialing that works over Bluetooth. It was a little slow on the uptake, and missed one clearly spoken "yes" response, but it's still better than nothing. The speakerphone sounded clear and reasonably loud. Battery life was excellent at 6 hours and 2 minutes of talk time.

User Interface and Apps
The Acclaim is a relatively stock Android 2.1 phone. There are three customizable home screens, but no widget bar; Samsung's TouchWiz UI is nowhere to be found. In fact, the main menu, dialer, and other apps all look fairly pedestrian. Samsung and US Cellular left the menu relatively intact, with Google's standard array of apps and not much bloatware. The relatively new OS means it will work with most of Android Market's 70,000+ apps.

On the hardware side, the Acclaim's 800 MHz ARM11 processor isn't state-of-the-art. The Acclaim was reasonably responsive most of the time, depending on the task and how many apps I had run recently. But it was easy to get the handset to bog down for several seconds, even during simple tasks like looking up a contact and dialing a phone number.

US Cellular gives you two excellent, voice-enabled navigation options for free: Android's cool-but-uneven Google Maps Navigation, and TeleNav's superior GPS app. The stock Web browser handled WAP and desktop pages with aplomb. The built-in mail apps handle Exchange, Gmail and web mail. and Webmail, but Gmail is once again handled separately.

Multimedia, Camera, and Conclusions
The Acclaim has 218MB of internal memory, and the side-mounted microSD card slot accepts 32GB cards. My 16GB SanDisk card worked fine, and Samsung gives you a 4GB card to get you started. The standard-size 3.5mm headphone jack lets you upgrade the stock ear buds fairly easily. The stock music player was easy to use and displayed medium-sized album art thumbnails. MP3 and AAC tracks sounded clear and full over Motorola S9-HD Bluetooth headphones. Google buried the video player nonsensically in the Gallery, just like with some other Android devices. AVI, MP4, and 3GP video looked smooth and sharp in full screen mode, though colors were a little flat, and 720p videos were out.

The 3-megapixel camera includes auto-focus and an LED flash. Outdoor test photos were passable, with flat color and middling contrast. But indoor photos with the flash were a dark, blurry disaster; shutter speeds were too slow to compensate for situations with minimal lighting. Recorded videos were too dark to be usable, and maxed out at just 352 by 288 pixels and 14 frames per second.

Power users will want to head straight for the HTC Desire, which drops the QWERTY keyboard, but adds a larger, sharper display and a much faster CPU. The Acclaim is still good; I'd feel better about its prospects if the Desire wasn't around. The Acclaim is a fine budget choice, but in a world of exciting phones in late 2010, it's tougher to recommend.

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