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Sanyo Katana - Sonyo's Answer To The Super Thin RAZR

When the Samsung MM-A900 arrived from Sprint late last year, we called it Samsung's answer to the Motorola Razr, thanks to its slim shape and similar, flip-phone design. Fast-forward several months, and Sprint has yet another Razr competitor on its hands: the Sanyo 6600 Katana. Having named it after a type of samurai sword, Sanyo clearly has high ambitions with this slim and slender handset, perhaps aiming to draw people away from the widely popular Razr. But without features such as a megapixel camera, a music player, or 3G support, the Sanyo 6600 Katana pales in comparison to both the Samsung MM-A900 and Verizon's Razr V3m. On the upside, its retail price of 9.99 is markedly cheaper than that of the Samsung and Motorola phones, and you are able to get it for .99 after a two-year service contract with Sprint. It also comes in Mystic Black, Sapphire Blue, Cherry Blossom Pink, and Polar White. The white phone is sold exclusively at RadioShack.

The major draw of the Sanyo 6600 Katana is, obviously, its design. It has a superslim form factor that measures 3.9 by 2.0 by 0.6 inches, much like the MM-A900, and it weighs a tremendously light 3.4 ounces, much like the Razr. Its slim profile means it slips into a pocket without difficulty, and we found the phone comfortable to hold in hand and next to the ear.

At first glance, it's easy to confuse the Katana with the Razr. The camera is located at the top of the front flap with the external display just beneath, which is terribly comparable the Razr--while the Katana has a just a bit beveled front, while the Razr's front flap is level. We liked the Katana's large, 1-inch-diagonal, 65,000-color outside display; it demonstrates the usual signal strength, as well as battery life and time; plus, it shows photo caller ID and acts as a camera viewfinder for self-portraits. On the left spine is the volume rocker, while the right spine is home to a dedicated camera button.

Flip open the phone and you'll find a large 65,000-color, 2.2-inch-diagonal display, which is rather inadequate when compared to the 262,000-color support of the Samsung MM-A900. What's more, the screen was difficult to see in bright sunlight. You are able to change the display's backlight time and font size, but you are able to't adjust the brightness or contrast. The menu design has a brushed-metal look, which we found boring, but it was easy to use.

Below the display are the navigational controls and keypad, which are arranged in a blocky, gridlike layout. The navigation keys consist of two soft keys and a five-way toggle that also act as shortcuts to text messaging, voice recording, the My Content folder, and the Web browser. These shortcuts are not user-customizable. Below the left soft-key is the dedicated camera button and below the right soft key is the Back button. Over the keypad are the Talk and End/power keys, with the speakerphone key in between. As with the MM-A900 and the Razr, the keys are flush to the face, making them difficult to dial by feel. Perhaps worse than either of the two, the keys on the Katana are really slippery, which made navigating the menu even trickier. The keys glow bright blue when activated, and you are able to adjust the backlight timer on the keys.

Behind the Katana's slim silhouette is a disappointing feature set. It doesn't have nearly the multimedia clout that the Razr and the Samsung MM-A900 have in terms of a megapixel camera, media-player functionality, and 3G support. Yet the Katana has various basic features that should suffice most users. The 500-entry address book holds up to seven numbers per entry, an e-mail address, a Web site URL, a home address, and a memo. Plus, you can appoint a contact to a group, a photo ID, and one of 16 polyphonic (72-chord) ring tones. There's also text messaging, instant messaging, e-mail, picture mail, voice recording, Bluetooth, a calendar, an alarm clock, a countdown timer, a stopwatch, a world clock, a calculator, a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, and a wireless Web browser. We liked that you were able to switch on the speakerphone before you make calls.

The Katana offers a VGA camera, which produced predictably disappointing picture caliber with washed-out colors (inclusive of way too much orange) and blurry object edges. You can take pictures with three different resolutions (640x480, 320x240, or 160x120 pixels), three caliber settings (Fine, Standard, Economy), and the choice of either two shutter sounds or silence. Other camera settings consist of five picture modes (Standard, Beach/Snow, Scenery, Night/Dark, and Soft Focus), a self-timer of upwards to 10 seconds, multiple shot, stitch shot, 10 picture frames, eight color tones, brightness, and white balance.

You are able to customize the Sanyo Katana with an array of screensavers and animation graphics, though there doesn't seem to be an alternate choice to change the wallpaper. Plus, you have the alternate choice of downloading more screensavers, graphics, and ring tones from Sprint via the wireless WAP 2.0 browser. On the gaming front, the phone comes with Midnight Pool, World Poker Tour, and demos of Ms. Pac-Man and Tetris. You also have the option of downloading more games from Sprint.

We tested the dual-band, trimode (CDMA 800/A900; AMPS 800) Sanyo Katana in San Francisco using Sprint's service. Signal strength and call caliber were terrific, as both parties were able to hear each other loud and clear. Speakerphone caliber was similarly fair, and it impressed us with how loud the calls were. We successfully managed to couple the Sanyo Katana with the Jabra BT160. Browser speed was predictably poky, taking a few seconds to load each page.

The Sanyo Katana has a rated talk time of 3.5 hours and a rated standby time of seven days. In our tests, we eked out an impressive 4 hours of talk time, but battery life fell short at just four days. According to FCC radiation tests, the Sanyo Katana has a digital SAR rating of 0.678 watt per kilogram.

About the Author: YourCellularConnection is a resource site dedicated to providing the latest cell phone reviews, news, and comprehensive information on all things Cellular.

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