The 2-megapixel camera takes pictures in seven resolutions (one more than the Gleam), from 1,600x1,200 down to a special size for photo caller ID. Editing options are plentiful and include a self-timer, a brightness control, four white balance modes, five color effects, 29 fun frames, three quality choices, three shutters sounds, a multishot setting, a night mode, spot metering, a digital zoom, and options for taking series shots and divided shots.
The camcorder takes clips with sound and offers a set of editing options similar to the still camera. Clips meant for multimedia messages are capped at 30 seconds; otherwise you can shoot for as long as the available memory permits. The Muse has a respectable 65MB of user-accessible memory. That's shared between all functions, so you're better off buying a microSD card for maximum storage. Photo quality was fairly good. Colors looked natural for the most part, though reds and oranges looked a bit fuzzy.
You can personalize the Muse with a variety of wallpaper and color themes, and you can compose a customized banner. For more options and additional ringtones, you can download content from Alltel's Axcess Shop with the WAP 2.0 wireless Web browser. The Muse doesn't come with any games.
We tested the (CDMA 800/1900; EV-DO) Samsung Muse SCH-U706 in San Francisco using Alltel's roaming network. Call quality was quite decent with sharp clarity and good volume. Some voices sounded a bit harsh, and others sounded a tad robotic, but on the whole the Muse delivers. Callers reported similar conditions. They were pleased with their side of the conversation, though they could tell we were using a cell phone. Also, a couple of our friends said the Muse picked up some wind noise.
Speakerphone calls were somewhat scratchy, though the audio was loud. On their end, callers couldn't hear us unless we were standing close to the phone. It was a similar case with automated calling systems. They could understand us the majority of the time but if we were out on a busy street we had to repeat ourselves. Voice commands worked relatively well, though we had to repeat ourselves on a couple of occasions.
The Muse offers decent music quality. The stereo speakers are well-positioned and they have good output. As with most camera phones, the music quality can be tinny so we suggest using a headset for the best experience. Though the Muse is compatible with Alltel's EV-DO network, we couldn't test the reception since we are out of Alltel's home network area.
We noticed that the menus were a bit slow at times. There was a lag of about a second between the time we moved the toggle and the time the cursor moved in the appropriate direction. The Muse has a rated battery life of 3.83 hours talk time and 8.75 days standby time. We managed to get 4.26 hours of talk time. According to FCC radiation tests, the Samsung Muse SCH-U706 has a digital digital SAR of 0.887 watts per kilogram.