The Admire includes the standard Android music player, but it's also the first device that we've seen with the carrier's new Rhapsody Unlimited Music service. Available on all MetroPCS Android handsets, the service offers unlimited (naturally) access to most of Rhapsody's catalog. As CNET's Greg Sandoval reported earlier this month, Warner Music Group is the only one of the four major record labels not to sign MetroPCS' deal. You'll need the $60 monthly rate plan to use the service, but you'll be able to play, download, and stream songs without paying per-track charges. The Admire also comes with MetroStudio, where you can browse and download ringtones. Once you're ready to store all that content, you can use the microSD card slot. Though a 2GB card comes with the phone (you'll need to buy an adapter), the slot accommodates cards of up to 32GB.
The 3.2-megapixel camera takes photos in four resolutions, from a full 3.2-megapixels down to standard VGA (64x480 pixels). It has a fair number of settings, such as three focus modes, six scene settings, spot metering, five white-balance settings, a 4x zoom, five color effects, geolocation, and three quality modes. The camera also shoots video in four settings and six color effects. Video length is determined by the available memory.
We tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1900) Samsung Admire in San Francisco using MetroPCS service. Call quality was mixed. On our end, the audio clarity was good and the signal remained strong and free of interference. The volume level, however, was a little low and we noticed occasional cut-outs during most calls. We wouldn't say that it ruined our experience, but these problems were immediately apparent and they continued throughout our test period. We had a difficult time hearing and understanding our callers in especially noisy places.
MetroPCS Samsung Admire call quality sample
Our callers also reported a few issues on their end. We were able to have a conversation, but there were a few times where we had to speak up or repeat ourselves. As we did, our friends found that the volume level wasn't completely reliable and there were frequent fluctuations in clarity. We particularly noticed this difficulty when calling an airline's automated reservation system. Even when we were in a quiet room, we had to speak slowly and enunciate to be understood.
Sadly, we had worse luck with the speakerphone. The audio on our end was tinny and pretty quiet. It helped to rest the phone upside down, but not by much. Callers reported poor quality on their end, as well. We had to sit close to the phone and be in a quiet place if we wanted to be heard. Bluetooth calls are fine, though quality will depend on the headset.
Music quality was just average and that was through a headset. You won't find a lot of range and the overall effect is rather flat. Don't even bother with music through the single speaker. Video quality isn't impressive either, but we weren't expecting much given the display's specifications.
The 800MHz processor keeps things moving respectably well. You'll notice a difference if you're accustomed to using more powerful smartphones, but the phone performs just fine for the market it's trying to capture. It may not run at top speed, but it gets the job done. The Admire has a rated battery life of 3 hours of talk time and 8.3 days of standby time. According to FCC radiation tests the Admire has a digital SAR of 0.53 watts per kilogram.
MetroPCS continues to pump out its share of basic but functional Android devices. The Admire certainly belongs in that category, next to the likes of the Huawai Ascend, Samsung Galaxy Indulge, and LG Optimus M. In terms of specs the Admire barely differs from its brethren, but its variable call quality makes us reluctant to endorse it heartily. As such, we'd suggest going for the other models.
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