After a long absence from the GSM world, push-to-talk technology (PTT) is gradually creeping into new territory with the recent rollout of Cingular's new PTT service. Now, Cingular customers can chat away without using calling minutes and having to lug around a clunky Nextel phone. Take the Samsung SGH-D357: As one of Cingular's two PTT phones (the other being the ), the SGH-D357 offers an unassuming, compact design. Beyond the PTT functionality, there are few features worth mentioning--you get Bluetooth and not a camera, but sometimes a phone that just makes calls is all you need. The Samsung SGH-D357 is fairly priced at $119, though you should be able to find it for less with service. From the outset, the Samsung SGH-D357 has a typical Samsung look. Small (3.4 by 1.8 by 0.96 inches), lightweight (3.5 ounces), and clad in a basic silver and black color scheme, the SGH-D357 has the rounded edges, the stubby antenna, and the smooth finish that we've come to expect from the company's phones. That's not to say it's unattractive--indeed, we like the sturdy hinge--it's just that it won't win any mobile beauty contest. Front and center is the monochrome external display, which shows the date, the time, battery life, signal strength, and caller ID (where available). Although we can accept the lack of a color resolution, we found the 0.8-inch-diagonal display too small for the phone's size, and its lack of backlighting puzzled us. You can change the contrast, but it still may be too dim for some users. Above the display is a service light that blinks for incoming calls. You can't change the blue color, but you can turn it off if you wish.
Inside the Samsung SGH-D357 is a 1.75-inch-diagonal internal display. Supporting 65,000 colors, the 128x160-pixel screen is fine for most purposes, but it has a slightly washed-out appearance, despite having adjustments for the brightness and the contrast. You can alter the backlighting time, however, and though you can't change the font size, you can fiddle with the font color. Also, it should be noted that the display is hard to see in direct light.