Samsung Solstice II Review

Introduction and Design

We've witnessed Samsung releasing follow up models to feature phones like the Eternity and Flight, but they're not stopping yet as theSamsung Solstice IISGH-A817 is the latest member to join the club. Being a direct successor, it's going to require some particularly outstanding improvements in order to refocus consumer attention on it in light of some entry-level smartphones. Accordingly priced at $29.99 with a contract through AT&T, the Solstice II will at least be very forgiving on the pockets.

The package contains:
  • Samsung Solstice II
  • microUSB Cable
  • Wall Charger
  • Quick Start Guide
  • User Manual CD


It's more of the same for this typical looking candybar handset as it employs the traditional mix of design cues common with other basic Samsung feature phones – like its all plastic boring looking construction. Compact in form (0.47” thick) and fairly lightweight (3.35 oz), it won't burden you in the pockets as it quickly disappears into the depths without much notice. Although its design is far from remotely being close to compelling, it's more than fitting for the category placement it finds itself in.

You can compare the Samsung Solstice II with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

Successive handsets generally receive an upgrade in specs, but sadly, the Solstice II retains the same exact 3” TFT display with its resolution of 240 x 400 pixels. Granted it's more than sufficient in viewing on-screen text, its color production on paper tallies in at 65k – versus the 262k color support with its predecessor. In any event, colors still look lively when it's placed on the brightest setting – but it does suffer from poor viewing angles and unsatisfying visibility in direct sunlight. However, we adore its choice of utilizing a capacitive panel over the former's resistive one seeing that it's acceptably more responsive.

Its send, end, and back/clear buttons are directly below the touchscreen and offer some good feedback when pressed while allowing enough room for all finger sizes. On the sides of the phone and clinging onto the plastic silver bezel, you'll find the microUSB port, lock/unlock switch, shutter key, quick menu button, and a responsive volume rocker.

In the rear, we find the same 2-megapixel fixed focus camera outlined with a chrome border, while a couple of notches in its plastic back casing houses the speakerphone. Removing the rear cover will uncover the spring loaded microSD card slot, 1,000 mAh battery, and SIM card slot.

Samsung Solstice II 360-degree View:

Interface and Functionality:

At this point in time, the TouchWiz interface employed on the Samsung Solstice II is beginning to show its less than invigorating age. Thanks partly to its capacitive display, moving around the three homescreens are a tad bit more rewarding with its more responsive feel. Various widgets can be placed to your liking on each of the homescreens, which provides for a level of personalization, but some are clearly more useful than others. With the main menu, it's laid out in typical form like any other TouchWiz enabled device with its grid-like formation and finger friendly icons. Simple, straightforward, and responsive, there isn't that much of a learning curve in getting around the phone.

Setting up contacts for the very first time, it'll take you into AT&T's Address Book process which will sync and backup contact information so you'll have piece of mind that it's safe. Moreover, all the usual pieces of data can be associated with each person – but there is a maximum tally of 2,000 contacts with the handset.

Similarly, we're finding an improved messaging experience thanks mostly to its capacitive display that accurately registers every touch. Generally, you can rely on using the usual keypad with T9 enabled for a smooth flowing process, but switching to landscape provides the most optimal performance with its full QWERTY keyboard.

AT&T's Mobile Email app makes for a streamlined automatic process, without any hassles, by providing simply an email address and password for it to set up. However, some specific email clients will require additional pieces of data, like server addresses or ports, to properly set up completely.

Since social networking is deeply ingrained into the minds of most messaging centric users out there, AT&T's Social Net App will be more than appreciated as it aggregates a variety of services into one – such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and RSS feeds.

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If emails and text messaging aren't enough for you, then using anyone of its supported instant messaging services will swiftly enable you to get in touch with friends. The supported clients include AIM, Windows Live Messenger, and Yahoo Messenger.

Finally, the Samsung Solstice II is packed full to the brim with third party apps that should appease most people when first handling the phone. Some of them are YPmobile, Where, My-Cast Weather, Star Tweets, Mobile Banking, PicDial, AllSport GPS, City ID, MobiTV, MobiVJ, and Vlingo. Conversely, AT&T throws in its usual suspects like AT&T FamilyMap, AT&T Music, AT&T Navigator, AT&T Radio, and AT&T Maps.

Camera and Multimedia:

Don't expect much from its 2-megapixel camera, which regrettably isn't an improvement from its predecessor, as outdoor shots have a super soft look which dishes up some muddy images. Luckily,  color reproduction remains to be acceptable with its neutral looking tones. However, indoor shots in low lighting have an extravagant amount of noise that diminishes its overall visibility.

Furthermore, video recording is forgettable with its maximum shooting resolution of 320 x 240 and a capture rate of 15 frame per second. Far from producing any distinguishable details, its results are less than forgiving with its pixelated looks and jerky movements – it's definitely something you don't want to use in capturing the spontaneous moments of life.

Visual presentation is lacking naturally with the music player on the Solstice II, but luckily it's more than functional at its core by displaying the album cover, track information, and on-screen controls. And despite offering a handful of equalizer settings, audio quality from its speaker is on the screechy side which makes for an unpleasant experience at the loudest volume setting

Even though its display is more than adequate in size to play videos, the only kind you'll be watching are some low quality ones. Loading up a movie trailer encoded in MPEG-4 320 x 240 resolution, the handset is more than equipped in its playback, but it doesn't necessarily come off as being impressive with its low quality only offering. Still, it's more than satisfactory in getting the job done – but don't expect to experience high definition quality any time soon.

Summing up under 83MB of free internal storage out of the box, it's not going to be able to handle the needs of media centric individuals with its light cargo. Otherwise, you can simply install microSD cards up to 16GB in capacity for additional memory.

Internet and Connectivity:

Sure you can take along the Samsung Solstice II abroad to other countries seeing that it's a quad-band GSM (850/900/1800/1900 MHz) and tri-band UMTS (850/1900/2100 MHz) device, but you'll have to rely on a carrier connection for all your data needs since it lacks Wi-Fi. Bluetooth 2.1 is available to enable a wide array of wireless devices, like headsets, to connect with the phone.

Opera Mini might not embody the rich set of features that are accustomed on some smartphone web browsers, but for the Solstice II, it's more than acceptable with its decent performance. Although it doesn't completely render some elements on our site correctly, its speed in scrolling and zooming is respectable to make it more than usable for most people. Passages of text are fitted accordingly to the width of the display to make it really easy to read, but it would've been nice to see kinetic scrolling on board. All in all, its web browsing performance will be appreciated by just about anyone.


Voices on both ends of the line are more than audible with their natural sounding tones which makes the entire experience somewhat gratifying. However, there is just some faint interference that can be heard through the earpiece, but it doesn't necessarily hinder us from our conversations. Finally, the speakerphone is able to emit some decent sounds that makes for some comprehensible conversations without much fluff.

Placing a continuous call in a high coverage area, we managed to get 6 hours of talk time with the handset – versus the manufacturer's rating of 5 hours. Additionally, we didn't experience any sudden changes in signal strength with the handset as it kept on working through the 6 hours we were testing it out. Naturally, battery life output is a little bit better than what it's alleged to offer, but in our daily usage, it's pretty average for its class. In fact, the manufacturer has it rated for 250 hours of standby time.


So what do we have with the Samsung Solstice II that separates it from its predecessor? Well, there isn't much in terms of specs as it qualifies itself as yet another decent, but not quite spectacular, basic touchscreen offering from Samsung's camp. Sure there are prettier looking Samsung phones on AT&T's lineup right now, like the Sunburst or Mythic, but its inexpensive price should more than be forgiving to basic users. As we enter the winter solstice though, the Samsung Solstice II might still be overlooked by consumers seeing that it's not shining as bright on AT&T's lineup compared to some other offerings.

Software version of the reviewed unit: A817UCJI6

Samsung Solstice II Video Review:


  • Responsive capacitive touchscreen
  • Good calling quality


  • Same looking design
  • Below average looking photos

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