Review: Cricket MSGM8 II
The screen on the Cricket MSGM8 II looks cheap and could be difficult to read. The display, a 2.2-inch TFT pushing 220 by 176 pixels, had a distracting shimmering quality. Often, a bar that looked grey in one eye would appear black in the other. Colors shifted noticeably between eyes. It's an unpleasant effect that grew more irritating over long-term use. The display was plenty colorful, but graphics and text could look chunky. A screen door effect made text look jagged. Though pictures were vibrant from afar, a closer look revealed lots of color and little detail.
Outside, the screen faded considerably. It was still usable, but on the brightest of sunny days, it was tough to see pictures on the phone's screen or use the camera for outdoor shots.
Call quality on the Cricket MSGM8 II was average, at best. Calls sounded okay, but there were some consistent sound problems. On my end, through the phone's earpiece, callers sounded muffled and deep. On my callers' end, friends reported I had a distant and digital sound to my voice, like I was speaking from the other end of a metal container. The speakerphone was nice and loud, and clear enough to have a conversation in a fast moving car. There was a small selection of five ringtones, two annoying phone sounds and three low-end polyphonic romps. These were audible, but you might actually want to invest in something better from the Cricket ringtone store.
The Cricket MSGM8 II never had trouble with signal reception. I'm not technically in Cricket's home area, but the carrier has extensive roaming deals in place, and the phone was always able to find a compatible CDMA 1xRTT network. That's the slower data network - the Cricket MSGM8 II isn't 3G capable - but it was consistently able to pull data from the 1x networks around. All my calls and messages went through with no trouble.
I was disappointed with the battery life I got from the Cricket MSGM8 II. I expected longer life from a phone using the slower data network, but the more I used the Web browser and the CricketNavigator GPS app, the faster I burned through the battery. I was easily able to drain the cell in a few hours of mixed use, especially with navigation involved. Even on a day of straight talking and text messaging, the phone still did not last until bed time. Thankfully, the MSGM8 II uses a standard (if older) mini USB port, so you can charge hooked up to a PC or with a common charger. I would charge this phone every night.