Cingular Wireless may have been somewhat late to the push-to-talk (PTT) party, but since it joined the fun last December, America's largest carrier hasn't been shy about introducing new PTT models. The first two handsets, the Samsung SGH-D357 and the LG F7200, did not offer cameras, but the third model in the series, the LG CG300, came with a VGA shooter in a nod toward shutterbugs. And now to broaden its PTT selection even further, Cingular offers the Samsung SGH-D407. Packed into a simple but appealing design, the SGH-D407 offers a decent feature set that includes the aforementioned PTT support, a speakerphone, Bluetooth, and world phone coverage. It's a bargain at $79, but you can get it even cheaper with service.
Of Cingular's previous PTT phones, the Samsung SGH-D407 most resembles its Samsung sibling, the SGH-D357. Like its predecessor, it has a flip-phone form factor that's relatively compact (3.4 by 1.8 by 0.9 inches) and lightweight (3.3 ounces), so it won't drag you down. Though its simple design is a bit angular, we liked the dark gray color scheme, and we're glad that the stubby antenna didn't add too much bulk. Front and center, the postage-stamp-size external display shows the date, time, battery life, signal strength, and caller ID. Overall, however, the monochrome display misses the mark. The reverse text (white on a black background) was difficult to read, and the backlighting was much too dark; you can change the contrast but not the brightness or the backlighting time. Also, while the screen acts as a crude viewfinder for the camera, it does not support photo caller ID. Above the display is the speaker, while the camera lens sits below, on the bottom right of the front flap. There is no flash on the SGH-D407.
Inside the Samsung SGH-D407 is an average 65,000-color, 128x156-pixel display. It's a good size (1.75 inches diagonally), but it isn't very sharp or vivid. We much prefer more vivid Samsung displays, such as the SGH-D807's. Criticisms aside, it's adequate for scrolling through the simple menus, viewing photos, and playing games. You can change the contrast, the brightness, the backlighting time, and the font color, but not the font size. Below the display are large and tactile standard navigation controls, which follow the standard Samsung layout. A four-way toggle doubles as a shortcut to four user-defined functions, while the two soft keys offer one touch-access to the main menu and instant messaging. There's an OK button in the middle of the toggle, but we don't like that it opens the Web browser when the phone is in standby mode. Below the toggle are a Clear button and the Talk and End/power keys.
The backlit keypad buttons were large for the phone's size, and we appreciated that the numerals on the keys were big and easy to see. Also, the buttons are raised above the surface of the phone, which made for few misdials. On the left spine of the SGH-D407 are a covered headset jack, the PTT button, and a volume rocker, while a speakerphone/voice-dialing control and a camera button sit on the right spine.
The Samsung SGH-D407's phone book holds a generous 1,000 contacts, far more than we expected. Also, you can store an additional 250 contacts on the SIM card. Each entry has room for five phone numbers, an e-mail address, and notes. You can save callers to a group or assign them one of 10 polyphonic (64-chord) ring tones. You also can pair callers with a photo, but it's not worth the effort since the images don't show up on the external display. There's a separate list for PTT contacts, but since Cingular uses the same number for both regular phone calls and PTT calls, you can easily copy contacts to and from the address book. For a complete description of Cingular's PTT network, please see our review of the LG F7200.
Other basic features include a vibrate mode, a calendar, a task list, a notepad, a calculator, a unit converter, a timer, a stopwatch, a world clock, and a voice recorder for messages up to seven minutes in length. Messaging options are plentiful--you get text and multimedia messaging; AOL, ICQ, MSN, and Yahoo instant messaging; and support for POP3 e-mail through Yahoo, MSN, AOL, and SBC. On the business-friendly side, there's full Bluetooth, voice dialing and commands, and a speakerphone.