There's nothing mysterious about the Helio Mysto; it's a stylish and feature-packed phone with good call quality and multimedia options that will please new Helio subscribers who want a good-looking slider with lots of functionality. There's a lot to like here for $149.
Mysto Design and UI
First and foremost, the Samsung Mysto is beautiful. Its exterior shell offers a mix of gunmetal grays and sapphire blues with silvery accents. The keys have an aluminum-metal-looking finish with a white backlight. They're flush against the surface, much like the keys on a Motorola RAZR, and the handset's large 2.2-inch screen is bright and crisp.
The sliding function on the phone felt solid and wonderfully smooth. Instead of push buttons on the front of the phone, Samsung opted for small haptic buttons, which provide a small buzz each time they're touched. You can turn haptics off, but then you're likelyto push buttons without knowing it. There's also a circular navigation wheel with the usual up/down/left/right functionality.
Perhaps the most stunning feature of the phone is its user interface. The main menu offers eight icons in a circle: Surf, Snap, Games, Apps, Message, Plan, Video + Music, and Customize. Unfortunately, though beautiful, the phone lags if you try to enter too much data at once.
We found ourselves waiting for the phone to catch up, sometimes while text messaging. Worse, navigating from the music store, or any other destination, back to the home screen can be tedious because there isn't a Home menu quick-access button. Your best bet is to close the phone and open it again.
Mixed Multimedia Experience
You can download songs over the air to the Mysto from the Helio music store for $1.99 each, which is expensive, but there's a nice selection from thousands of artists. We were able to find new music from Kanye West, and older songs from the likes of Phil Collins. Navigation throughout the music store was a bit slow. Even with the phone's 3G connection, downloading a songtook us 1 minute and 15 seconds. Music sounded great on the Mysto, with both the prepackaged Samsung headset and our stereo Bluetooth headset.
There's also a customizable equalizer with 13 different presets, ranging from Rock to Large Hall. You can't pause or skip songs unless the slider is open, however; everything is locked when the Mysto is closed.
We would have preferred a lock option and the ability to switch songs on the go. You also can't play music while text messaging or performing any other function; once you leave the player, the music stops.
The Mysto supports streaming video and TV. Helio's premium TV subscription offers seven channels: Comedy Central, Discovery, Logo, MTV, Spike, TLC, and VH1. Most music videos cost about $2.49 each. When we watched Jay-Z's "Roc Boys (And The Winner Is)," the video was washed out, and voices were out of sync with the picture.
Mysto Applications and Games
The Helio Mysto comes packed with five games and seven applications, including Google Maps, and Buddy Beacon (which uses GPS technology to show your current location on a map or broadcast it to your friends). It even has a MySpace Mobile 2.1 application for updating your info or stalking on the go. Logging in is easy, and you can use the smooth interface to view your MySpace Mail, upload pictures, view friends, or blog.
The Mysto also supports Game Loft, and you can buy games for about $5.99 a pop, or get a seven-day rental for about 99 cents. We rented Heroes of Might and Magic II, each of which downloaded in 22 seconds. The graphics are akin to a Game Boy--albeit one with many more colors.
Pictures snapped with the 2-megapixel flash camera indoors looked crisp on the phone, but when we connected it to our computer via USB cable, we found that the software needed to upload the photos wasn't included. We e-mailed the photos, since even saving them on a microSD card proved difficult. The pics looked washed out and lacked clarity, but overall weren't horrible.
The Mysto also comes packed with a host of messaging software, including AOL, Gmail, Windows Live, and Yahoo, as well as Earthlink e-mail support, and Helio's own e-mail software.
Browsing the Web on the Mysto was fast, and we love that the Mysto automatically brings up a menu of ".com," ".edu," etc, so you can quickly complete a Web address. The mobile version of CNN.com loaded in just 9 seconds, with pictures. Oddly, it doesn't recognize addresses without "http://" added: When we entered www.nyt.com, the Mysto took us to Yahoo and gave us a stock performance chart for the ticker symbol NYT instead of the newspaper's Web site.
Call Quality and Battery Life
We tested the Mysto's call quality over the course of a week and didn't encounter any issues indoors or outdoors. We were able to hear other callers clearly without any static, and they heard us just as clearly.
The Mysto is rated for only 3.5 hours of talk time, and that bore out during our tests. We made calls, surfed the Web, and listened to music for 2 hours straight and lost just one bar of battery. Over a weekend of usage, the phone lasted until Sunday morning, so you'll want to keep the charger handy.
Helio Mysto Verdict
Overall, the Helio Mysto is a good choice for Helio customers looking for a sleek and feature-rich slider. It's chock-full of apps and games that will keep anyone busy, and its 3G speeds were satisfactory. We wish the phone's performance were a bit snappier and the camera took better pics, but otherwise the Mysto is a good midrange phone for hipsters.
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