When you see as many cell phones as we do, it's easy to get jaded. When it comes down to it, aside from a few tweaks here or there, most phones are more similar than dissimilar. This is precisely why mobiles such as Samsung's SGH-P777 for Cingular Wireless get us going. While it's not necessarily perfect, the SGH-P777 is a stylish device with significant bells and whistles. Audiophiles will love the MP3 player and the built-in 100MB of memory, shutterbugs will appreciate the 1.3-megapixel camera, obsessive chatters will love the phone's myriad messaging and e-mail options, and the fashionistas will dig the unique slider design. Of course, at $400 (you can find it for less with a service agreement), the SGH-P777 will set you back a bit, and we think that a high-end phone in this price range should at least boast a speakerphone and Bluetooth support. The Samsung SGH-P777 is attractively designed. At 1.8 by 0.8 by 3.6 inches (with the slider closed) and 3.8 ounces, the SGH-P777 is by no means small, but its size is not obtrusive either. The relatively large, 1.75-inch-diagonal display boasts 262,000 colors and is extraordinarily bright with the backlighting on. Users can adjust it to stay on for anywhere from 15 seconds to 10 minutes, which is a good thing, as the screen is unreadable when the backlighting is off. The display is great for viewing photos, and you can choose from three user-friendly menu styles, but you can't change the font size.
Similar to other slider phones, the SGH-P777 is fun and easy to use. You can make calls with the slider open or closed, or you can set the handset to automatically pick up when it's opened. Be advised, however, that when the handset is closed and the backlighting is off, you must open the phone in order to do anything. Extending the slider exposes the backlit keypad, but otherwise, it's hidden away to avoid misdials. One issue that we've experienced with slider phones is that the keys are flush with the surface of the phone, so dialing by feel can be difficult; the SGH-P777 is no exception. Additionally, the keys seem small and are somewhat cramped. Also, since the phone has so many messaging options, you'll find yourself thumb-tapping messages on it, though this layout isn't terribly good for that.
Just beneath the screen, the SGH-P777 sports a five-way toggle that can be used as a shortcut to four user-defined functions; the OK button also acts as a shortcut to the Web browser. A thin LED light surrounds the toggle, and you can select from seven color options. To the left and right of the toggle are soft keys, while the Talk and End keys sit right below them. Under the toggle, you'll find a Clear key that backs you out of menus and deletes text that has been typed.
On the left spine are the volume rocker and the proprietary headphone jack. On the right side are the IR port, a button for activating the MP3 player, and a dedicated camera key. On the back is the 1.3-megapixel camera lens and flash; when the slider is open, you're greeted with a small mirror that resides above the lens and flash. The SGH-P777 also ships with a USB cable for connecting the port at the bottom of the phone to your PC.The Samsung SGH-P777's phone book stores a whopping 1,000 entries with room in each for three numbers and an e-mail address (the SIM card holds an additional 250 contacts). You can assign a picture and any of the phone's 12 polyphonic ring tones to a contact. In addition, the handset boasts a vibrating alert, an alarm clock, a calendar, a to-do list, a calculator, text and multimedia messaging, voice memos, and a currency exchanger. The P777 also supports three-way calling and auto-answer, as well as speed- and voice-dialing features. When it comes to data, the handset supports EDGE high-speed transmission; supports POP3, SMTP, and IMAP4 e-mail; and ships with mobile versions of AOL Instant Messenger and ICQ. You also get an infrared port and the ability to sync the address book, the calendar, and the to-do list with a PC. Since the SGH-P777 is such a high-end, feature-packed phone, we really would have liked Bluetooth and a speakerphone. Their absence baffles us.
The P777 ships with an integrated 1.3-megapixel camera/camcorder and has a bright "movie light" that serves to illuminate pictures and videos. The camera can take photos in six resolutions, from 1,280x1,024 all the way down to 160x120, at any one of four quality settings (Super Fine, Fine, Normal, and Economy). There are also five shutter sounds but no silent option. You can adjust the brightness, flip the image orientation four ways, use the 12X zoom at even the highest resolution, choose from nine color effects except at the two highest resolutions, and select from 12 fun frames. Other options include multishot and mosaic shot capabilities, as well as a self-timer. We like that each of the keypad buttons acts as a shortcut to a camera function, but it's rather annoying that you can't turn off the various sounds that play when you use the zoom and other functions. The camcorder can record videos up to 60 minutes in length at 176x144 or 128x96 resolution with or without sound. When you're done snapping photos or taking videos, you can send them via a multimedia message or upload them to your PC using the included USB cable. You get a very generous 100MB for saving photos, videos, and music. Though that's more than most other phones we've seen, it would have been nice if the mobile included an expansion slot.