Thankfully, Samsung appears to have learned its mistake from the d307's quirky navigation controls. While the d307's navigation controls did double duty with the QWERTY keyboard, the u740's navigation controls are decidedly separate from the rest of the keypad. There are two soft keys underneath the display when viewed in portrait mode, and a third soft key on the lower-left corner is for use when viewing in landscape mode. The familiar circular navigation controls with a middle OK key is also present, and they double as shortcuts to four user-defined functions. Below the soft keys and the navigation controls are the Send and End/Power key, the camera/camcorder key, the Clear key, and the voice command key.
We were surprisingly pleased with the mini QWERTY keyboard and the button layout of the phone. A block of 12 keys at the top double as the number keypad, and they are colored grey to stand out against the black. There is a NumLock key next to the spacebar so you can still type out numbers and make calls when in landscape mode. All the keys were raised above the surface of the phone, and we found the keyboard to be spacious and tactile enough to type out text messages with ease. The backlight time of the keypad can also be adjusted.
Though u740's improved keyboard was notable by itself, it's the features that make the u740 really shine over its predecessor. The SGH-d307 lacked multimedia features, but the u740 ramps it up with a megapixel camera, a music player, and full access to Verizon's V Cast capabilities. And its phone offerings are pretty good as well. The u740 comes with an address book including room in each entry for five phone numbers, two e-mail addresses, and a note. You can also save contacts to a group and pair each contact with a photo for caller ID or one of 10 polyphonic ringtones. Other basic features include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, instant messaging (AOL, MSN, and Yahoo messengers are supported), e-mail, voice commands and dialing, a calculator, a calendar, an alarm clock, a world clock, a stop watch, a notepad, a speakerphone, a wireless web browser, and Bluetooth connectivity. There's also an optional Wireless Sync e-mail feature that lets you sync up with your business or personal e-mail addresses. Wireless Sync supports Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Domino, POP3, and IMAP e-mail systems. The Bluetooth technology on the u740 supports profiles for Vcard Push plus headset, hands-free operation, serial port, and dial-up networking.
The u740's EV-DO support comes in handy especially when it comes to accessing Verizon's multimedia broadband offerings like V Cast Music and V Cast Video. It's worth noting that you can only access the music player plus the V Cast services when the phone is in landscape mode. The music player and V Cast interface is similar to that of other Verizon phones, right down to the red-and-white navigation menus. You also have the option of purchasing and downloading other applications such as VZ Navigator, Chaperone Parent, and many more via Verizon's Get It Now service.
The 1.3-megapixel camera has a healthy array of settings, which include five different resolutions (1,280x960, 640x480, 320x240, 160x120, and a Picture ID setting), three quality settings (Fine, Normal, Economy), up to 4x zoom, color effects, white balance, light metering, flash, a self-timer of up to 10 seconds, auto save, preview mode, multishot, three "ready" sounds ("Say Cheese!", "Look here," and "1,2,3!") plus a silent option, and three shutter sounds also with a silent option. The camcorder has two recording modes: Clips meant for multimedia messages are limited to 15 seconds, but Normal mode lets you record for as long as the available memory permits. Of course, you always can use a microSD card for more space. The quality of the photos was acceptable; though the images appeared a little blurry, they weren't as pixilated as that of a VGA camera, and colors remained bright and bold. The video quality on the other hand was pretty shoddy, especially in low-light conditions.
Personalization options are plenty with the u740. Not only can you use the wide array of preloaded wallpapers and graphics, you can download more from Verizon's Get It Now service. The same goes for ringtones and alerts. The u740 doesn't come with any games, but you can download more BREW games from Verizon. We managed to download Pac-Man in a mere second, and playing it in the phone's landscape mode was quite fun.
We tested the dual-band Samsung SCH-u740 (CDMA 800/1900; EV-DO) in San Francisco using Verizon Wireless service. We were impressed with the call quality, which was very good, and callers reported little to no static. The speakerphone quality was excellent as well; callers reported that we sounded loud and clear even though we placed the phone a couple feet away. The audio quality did sound a little metallic, and people still knew we were calling from a cell phone, but it wasn't a deal breaker. We managed to pair the SCH-u740 with the Technocel T50 Bluetooth headset without a problem, and call quality from the headset was quite good as well.
We downloaded music files via V Cast Music within seconds. Browsing the web was also quite speedy, and video streamed without buffering issues. The video quality was pretty mediocre, however, with a lot of pixilation that was especially noticeable in action shots such as sports video clips. On the other hand, music quality was very good. It sounded loud and clear from the phone's speakers and through a headset.
The Samsung SCH-u740 has a rated talk time of 3.5 hours and a rated standby time of 8.3 days. Our tests revealed an impressive talk time of 4 hours and 18 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the SCH-u740 has a digital SAR rating of 0.68 watts per kilogram.