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Sprint Summer 2006

Article Comments  28  

Jun 29, 2006, 6:26 PM   by Rich Brome   @rbrome

Hands-on with Sprint's basic phones for summer: the Sanyo Katana and 2400, and Samsung A640 and A420.

Samsung A640 

Sprint this week rolled out a quartet of basic new phones for summer. They're not high-end phones with EVDO, but each phone serves a purpose in Sprint's full lineup.

The Samsung A640 is a rather sleek clamshell phone with a slick OLED outer display that disappears into the glossy black front when it's not shining. The sleek black front echoes LG's popular Chocolate phones.

Its features are mostly basic. The OLED outer display is multi-color, not full-color. That means the blue parts will always be blue, the red parts always red, etc. Unfortunately, the outer display seemed rather dim to us. OLED displays are usually very bright, but this one seemed to be the exception.

The main display is rather small at 128 x 160 pixels. The camera is only VGA resolution. However, the A640 does have Push-To-Talk and Bluetooth going for it.

It's on the small and light side, but not exceptionally so.

Both the Samsung A640 and A420 have a new high-contrast main menu option for those with poor vision:

While Sprint is marketing this feature as a major innovation, it's really nothing more than a very simple main menu theme. It would have been nice to see larger fonts throughout the menus and phonebook, for example. Unfortunately this doesn't include that.

Sanyo Katana 

The Sanyo Katana is the latest in a long string of phones copying Motorola's popular RAZR.

Sanyo is clearly not being shy about copying the RAZR. First is the name: "Katana" is basically Japanese for "sword". Then there's the hinge and housing surrounding the keypad and display: it's made of magnesium, exactly like the RAZR. The internal antenna also protrudes from the bottom of the phone, exactly as it does on the RAZR.

The Katana does have Bluetooth and a gorgeous QVGA main display. Unfortunately, that's where the list of impressive features ends. Like the original RAZR, there is no memory card slot. Also, the camera is only VGA, and there is no EVDO high-speed data, both of which are actually steps down from the first CDMA RAZR.

While the inner housing is magnesium, and feels solid enough, the outer housing is all plastic. On such a thin phone, that gives the phone a distinctly cheap feel. In fact, pretty much everything on the outside of the phone seems a bit cheap. The outer display is small and low-quality, and the keys and connector covers do not seem well-designed.

With that said, the Katana doesn't feel like it will fall apart, and it does seem to offer a decent cheaper alternative to the Samsung A900 in Sprint's lineup. The various color options are another selling point. The different versions vary not only in color, but also finish. The black and pink have a matte finish, while the blue version is glossy. My favorite was the white, which will be exclusive to Radio Shack.

2400 & A420 

The Sanyo 2400 is essentially the 3100 without a camera.

It's aimed partially at kids. Specifically, kids just old enough that they wouldn't be caught dead with a dumbed-down toddler phone like a Firefly or Migo. Of course, many of those kids probably wouldn't be caught dead without a camera phone, but since the parents are probably the ones paying for it, this is what they'll be stuck with.

The selling point for parents is the parental controls, such as blocking calls to all numbers that aren't on a short list. Nearly all GSM phones can do this, but it's not as common on regular CDMA phones.

Another parental control is locking data features, so kids can't rack up insane per-KB data charges if they're not on a data plan. This feature is probably related to the lack of a camera. What's the point of a camera if your parents won't let you use the photo service to get the photos off your phone?

The 2400 isn't just a "kids phone", though. It's also a perfectly good phone for those wanting something simple and affordable for talking only.

In the side-by-side shots above, you can see just how similar the 2400 and 3100 really are. While they tried to do some different things with the styling of the plastic, you can tell it's the same hardware underneath.

On nice feature of these new entry-level Sanyos is the very large external display. It's a big improvement over previous entry-level Sanyos that had a microscopic one-line external display.

Sprint's last new basic phone for summer is the Samsung A420.

The A420 is an exact clone of Samsung's X200 GSM phone for Europe. The only way you can tell it's not the X200 is the extra dedicated key for speakerphone.

The A420 is as basic as it gets these days, with no external display at all. The design is unique, though, and the build quality feels excellent.

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Comments

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This forum is closed.

shleeban

Aug 7, 2006, 12:14 PM

are you kidding me?!

the CEO of sanyo should retire.... what a lame company.... not only behind on technology... but make insanely ugly phones.... and why copy a razr?! the thing is over a year old.... idiots.. make a phone that supports itunes or xm radio or something innovative.
elvis_hiccup

Jul 1, 2006, 4:17 PM

razr copycats

why would anybody else bother copying the RAZR? the RAZR is so common, they should spend more time finding a successor to the razr instead of trying to copy it.
yea i know. and its not even a good razr copy. no bluetooth and a vga camera?? it also looks thicker than the verizon razr.

does anyone know who thin the katana is?
...
When the razr was developed, it was a good idea that spiraled into a revolution. The "thin phone" design is now as common as say a "bar" phone design, or a "slider" design. Its almost a wireless suicide if you do not offer a "thin phone". thus..

Mo...
(continues)
TinyJ316

Jul 6, 2006, 9:33 AM

Other features

Rich,

aside from the lack of EVDO and only sporting a VGA camera, what else does this phone have? does it have speakerphone, music player, or anything else like that, or is it just a basic sanyo phone that was crammed into a slimline body?
muchdrama

Jun 30, 2006, 3:58 PM

Mistake on my part...

...as I thought Sanyo wouldn't think of releasing the Katana without EVDO built in. Looks like I'm eating crow.
So will sanyo.
...
Big Poppa

Jul 3, 2006, 10:30 AM

Katana Ports?

Rich, what kind of data port did the Katana have? Did it have the standard sanyo port, or a mini USB port like the RAZR.
It's the sanyo port, at least that's what it appears to be on the dummy.
Rich Brome

Jun 29, 2006, 6:40 PM

Sorry about the quality

Thanks to Amtrak, I was a full 90 minutes late for the event last night. That didn't leave me with as much time as I had hoped with the new phones. That's why there aren't as many details or photos as we usually try to put in our In Depth articles.

Also, my Canon camera is busted, so I was stuck with my crappy backup camera. That's why the photos aren't quite as good quality as we usually strive for.

I hope the article still provides some useful info and eye candy for folks.

Please feel free to ask questions.
no worry it was still heart felt Crying or Very sad

Laughing

does the katana have that click that all other sanyo's have when you flip it open or closed?
...
Compared to the motorola razr, how is the size and width?
...
tuolumne

Jun 30, 2006, 2:14 PM

Fall EV-DO Push?

You guys mentioned a slew of new EV-DO handsets comming in the article on the front page.

Any more details on these devices?
It's a raft, even, of new evdo phones. I am curious, definitely.
The Sanyo 8400 is one. Samsung A720, M250 and M500... that's all that springs to mind at the moment, although there may be more.
...
RingLeader

Jun 30, 2006, 10:29 AM

Nothing exciting in summer...

I'm still waiting for Sanyo to catch up with Samsung and get (micro)SD, Bluetooth and EVDO all in one great package...

My Samsung a920 works ok, but won't sort my SMS messages into folders. And it won't let me add words to the T9 feature, which includes some useful common spanish words but misses a few obvious English ones. Starting movies takes about 15 seconds longer on the a920 than the Sanyo 5600, and if you get a call while watching, well, get ready to start the movie over. After you get done fast-forwarding up to where you left off, at least it has a rewind button to correct when you skip too far, unlike the Sanyo. But every time I've used it like this, its frozen the player, and I had to take the battery off to reset the phone. ...
(continues)
 
 
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