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.
The VGA camera takes pictures in four resolutions: 640x480, 320x240, 176x160, and 160x120. If you're an avid camera phone fan, the picture-editing options won't disappoint. The SGH-D407 offers a 4X zoom, four image-quality settings, a brightness control, seven color effects, 29 fun frames, a self-timer, multi- or mosaic shot modes, and an option for flipping the image's orientation. You also get a wealth of photo sound options, but you can turn them off altogether. The camcorder takes clips in two resolutions (176x144 and 128x96) with sound. Videos are limited to 44 seconds, and editing options are similar to those of the still camera. Photo quality was what you'd expect from a VGA camera; images were grainy and colors didn't pop. It does the trick overall, though, especially if you're just looking to take on-the-spot shots for multimedia messages. Similarly, videos were pixelated and washed out. For saving your photos and videos, the phone comes with a solid 27MB of shared memory.
You can personalize the SGH-D407 with a variety of wallpaper, color skins, and alert sounds. You can buy more options and tones from Cingular over the WAP 2.0 wireless Web browser. The phone comes with three Java (J2ME) demo games (Tetris, Midnight Pool, and Skipping Stones), so you'll have to buy the full versions or other titles.
We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900; EDGE) Samsung SGH-D407 in San Francisco using Cingular's service. Call quality was admirable. We could hear our conversations plainly, and callers said they had no trouble understanding us. They could tell we were using a cell phone, especially when we were in noisy environments. Volume on our end was good as well. Speakerphone calls weren't as satisfactory--there was noticeable static, and audio quality had an echoed effect. Moreover, callers had trouble following us at times, and automated calling systems, such as an airline reservation center, couldn't understand us at all. Calls using PTT and the Plantronics Explorer 320 Bluetooth headset were decent, but they suffered from minimal static. Via the EDGE network, Web browsing was sufficiently speedy.
The Samsung SGH-D407 has a rated talk time of 5 hours and a promised standby time of 10.4 days; our tests showed a talk time of only 4 hours and a standby time of 7 days. According to FCC radiation tests, the SGH-D407 has digital SAR rating of 1.38 watts per kilogram.