The SGH-A177 has a 500-contact phone book with room in each entry for five phone numbers, an e-mail address, and notes. You can save callers and pair them with a photo and one of 10 polyphonic, 64-chord ringtones. Alternatively, you can use your own audio recordings as ringtones. The SIM card holds an additional 250 contacts.
Essential features include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, an alarm clock, a calendar, a notepad, a calculator, a tip calculator, a currency and unit converter, a timer, a stopwatch, and a world clock. You'll also find instant messaging, a voice recorder, and Bluetooth.
The VGA camera takes pictures in three resolutions (640x480, 320x240 and 220x165 pixels). Other options include a self-timer, four white balance settings, four color effects, adjustable brightness, a night mode, and metering exposure. Photo quality is just average, even for a VGA camera. The SGH-A177 has about 14MB of shared memory, but it does not record video.
The SGH-A177 offers demo versions of several games and applications. They include AT&T Mobile e-mail, JuiceCaster, Mobile Banking, GraffitiWriter, WikiMobile Bubble Bash, Diner Dash 2, Guitar Hero III, and Bejeweled. You can personalize the handset with a variety of wallpaper, themes, background colors, and greetings. More options are available from AT&T using the WAP 2.0 browser.
We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/19000) world phone in San Francisco using AT&T service. Call quality had its high and low points. Though the signal was generally strong and free of static, some voices sounded a tad garbled. It didn't happen constantly, but when it was there, it was noticeable. Also, the volume level was insufficient if we were speaking in a noisy place.
On their end, callers could understand us. Landline and cell phone users reported some voice distortion, but again it wasn't universal. Also, some of our friends had to strain to understand us if we were speaking on a busy street or in a large store with announcements over the public address system. Similarly, automated calling systems could understand us, but it was best if we were in a quiet room. Speakerphone calls were disappointing. Though we had enough volume, the distortion effect was magnified,
The SGH-A177 has a rated battery life of 5 hours talk time and 10.5 days standby time. Our tests showed a talk time of 5 hours and 10 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the SGH-A177 has a digital SAR rating of 0.724 watts per kilogram.