Compared to Sprint or Verizon, Cingular and Samsung haven't been the best of friends. But ties between the two have strengthened recently with the rollout not only of the Samsung SGH-P107 but also of the SGH-X427 and the SGH-E317. Designed in the usual Samsung silver, the P107 incorporates solid call quality with a rotating camera lens, an infrared port, and a vibrant color screen. On the downside, however, the handset suffered from short battery life and somewhat flimsy design. That said, though, as a basic phone for casual users, it should do the trick. And at $149 without a service plan, the price is right. If there's one area where the Samsung SGH-P107 stands out, it would be in its light weight. Measuring 3.5 by 1.8 by 0.8 inches and weighing just 3.3 ounces, the handset was hardly noticeable in our hand, and it slipped into our pockets with ease. However, small and light isn't always a good thing when it comes at the cost of overall construction quality. While the hinge mechanism was solid enough, the material covering the handset felt like cheap plastic, and we were concerned about the effects of dropping the mobile on a hard surface.
On the front of the P107, you'll find a postage-stamp-size monochrome screen that shows the date, the time, battery life, signal strength, and caller ID (where available). Immediately above it, a small LED flashes intermittently when the handset is on. You get a choice of seven colors, or you can turn it off altogether. A definite plus was the 180-degree-rotating camera lens that sits on the phone's hinge. Usually found on higher-end handsets, the lens allows you to take self-portraits as well as traditional pictures. The rest of the phone's features were minimal. A volume rocker, a headset jack, and an infrared port sit on the left spine, but we were disappointed by the lack of an exterior camera key.
Opening the handset reveals the vibrant 65,000-color screen. Though it's not too visible in direct sunlight, the 2-inch-diagonal display is great for viewing photos and the colorful, animated menus. We also like that you can change the font size. Just below the screen, you'll find the huge navigation keys, which are great for browsing through the user-friendly menus. The four-way toggle has shortcuts to the camera and to three user-defined functions--you move the toggle sideways to back in and out of submenus. But not everything about the handset's controls is to our liking. Made of the same plastic as the phone's face, the keys were slippery to the touch, and we lamented the lack of a dedicated OK button. The left soft key serves this purpose instead, and the valuable space inside the toggle is unwisely devoted to a Web browser shortcut. Also, while the phone book is activated by the right soft key, it can't be accessed from the main menu. The keypad buttons were large enough, but they were slippery and not very tactile.The Samsung SGH-P107 offered an average feature set. You get a 500-name phone book with room in each entry for three numbers and an e-mail address. Callers can be organized into groups, which in turn can be assigned a picture or any of nine polyphonic or two monophonic ring tones. Other offerings include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, a WAP 2.0 wireless Web browser, a calendar, a to-do list, an alarm clock, a calculator, and a currency converter. The addition of an infrared port was an especially nice touch, particularly for such a basic handset.
The features on the integrated VGA camera were somewhat limited too, especially considering the P107's sporty lens. You get only one resolution (352x288), and there's no choice of color modes or quality settings. Likewise, there's no flash for dim situations. On the upside, there's a 10X zoom, a brightness setting, and a 10-second timer for joining in on group shots. You can't use the camera with the flip closed, but self-portraits were a snap with the rotating lens. When done taking your shots, you can save them to the phone's memory, use them as wallpaper, or send them to your friends via either multimedia messaging or the infrared port.
You can personalize the P107 with a variety of wallpaper, sounds, and menu styles. If you're bored with the integrated choices, you can get more options from Cingular. The handset also comes with two Java (J2ME)-enabled games (X-Flighter and SpaceWar) with more titles and ring tones available for download.We tested the dual-band (GSM 850/1900) Samsung SGH-P107 in San Francisco using Cingular Wireless Service. Call quality was good with great audio and clarity. We also had no problem getting a signal, and callers rarely could tell we were using a cell phone.
Battery life missed the mark, however. In our tests, we managed 4.5 hours of talk time, much less than the rated time of 5 hours. Standby time fell short by a bigger margin. We got 5 days of standby time, well below the promised time of 8.3 days. According to the FCC, the Samsung SGH-P107 has a digital SAR rating of 1.13 watts per kilogram.