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Sprint Summer 2006

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Jun 29, 2006, 6:26 PM   by Rich Brome

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.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

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.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

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:

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

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.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

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.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

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.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

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.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

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.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

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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Subject Author Date
are you kidding me?! shleeban Aug 7, 2006, 12:14 PM
razr copycats elvis_hiccup Jul 1, 2006, 4:17 PM
Other features TinyJ316 Jul 6, 2006, 9:33 AM
Mistake on my part... muchdrama Jun 30, 2006, 3:58 PM
Katana Ports? Big Poppa Jul 3, 2006, 10:30 AM
Sorry about the quality Rich Brome Jun 29, 2006, 6:40 PM
Fall EV-DO Push? tuolumne Jun 30, 2006, 2:14 PM
Nothing exciting in summer... RingLeader Jun 30, 2006, 10:29 AM
 
 
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