As we mentioned earlier, the SLM is the first AT&T handset to accept wireless song downloads. The carrier still is partnering with subscription services such as Napster Mobile and eMusic for content (Verizon Wireless and Sprint operate their own music stores), but you'll be able to download tracks to your computer and your handset at the same time. The price structure is rather expensive--$7.49 for five songs per month or $1.99 each--but for impulse buyers it will eliminate the need to sync all your music through your computer. And as always, you can transfer unprotected MP3, WMA, and AAC music files to the SGH-A747 using a memory card or a USB cable.
The SLM's music player interface is like that of other AT&T music phones; it displays album art but features are limited to shuffle and repeat modes, playlists, an equalizer, and an airplane mode. The handset offers other music services including support for XM Radio Mobile, a Music ID application, a Billboard Mobile channel, and a community section with access to fan sites.
The SGH-A747's 2-megapixel camera takes pictures in four resolutions, from 1,600x1,200 down to 320x240. Other camera features include three quality settings; brightness and white balance controls; mosaic, panorama, multishot, and night modes; 20 fun frames; a self-timer, and three color tones. There's also a digital zoom (though it's unusable at the highest resolution) and three shutter sounds, plus a silent option. The camcorder records clips in a 176x144 resolution with sound and a number of editing options; clips meant for multimedia messages are capped at about 90 seconds, or you can shoot for as long as the available memory will permit. The SLM offers 50MB of shared internal memory. That's about average for a multimedia phone, so a microSD card is recommended. Photo quality was about average as well; images were relatively blurry, and the colors were washed out.
You can personalize the SGH-A747 with a variety of wallpaper, background colors, and a greeting message. If you'd like more choices, you can download additional options and ringtones via the lovely Opera Mini wireless Web browser. The SGH-A747 comes with demo versions of four games: Brain Challenge, Pac-Man/Ms. Pac-Man, Tetris and Jewel Quest 2. There's also My Cast for checking weather forecasts in your area, MySpace Mobile, and an application from IMDb for checking movie show times in your area.
We tested the Samsung SLM SGH-A747 in San Francisco using AT&T service. Call quality was decent, though the clarity was muddy at times, and the volume could be the tiniest bit louder. On the upside, the signal was strong and free of static, and we didn't encounter interference with other electronic devices.
Callers reported much of the same on their end. They could hear us well, though they also said the clarity could be sharper. On the other hand, they didn't have any issues hearing us when we were in a noisy place. Also, we had no issues when calling voice-automated systems. The speakerphone was respectable, though not spectacular. The overall quality hardly changed from regular voice calls.
While we have to hand it to AT&T for enabling wireless song downloads to its phones (finally), we wish the service was more elegant. The interface, which is reached through the Web browser, is rather convoluted and clunky. It wasn't quite clear which options did what, and some choices looked more like ads than applications. The search function also was disappointing. More than once, we didn't get any results when we searched for a specific song by name. But when we searched by artist, then scrolled through entire track list, we were successful. The downloading process was buggy as well; we had to try four times before we could download a song. During the first three tries, the connection would time out even though we had a consistently strong 3G connection. Finally, on the fourth try we received our song relatively quickly--it took 30 seconds to download a 1.6MB track.
The SLM has a rated battery life of 3 hours talk time and a standby time of 10.4 days. We were impressed with our tested talk time of 4 hours, 49 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the SGH-A747 has a digital SAR rating of 0.478 watt per kilogram.