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 $279.99 is markedly cheaper than that of the Samsung and Motorola phones, and you can get it for $79.99 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 very light 3.4 ounces, much like the Razr. Its thin profile means it slips into a pocket easily, and we found the phone comfortable to hold in hand and next to the ear.
The Sanyo 6600 Katana has a VGA camera.
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 underneath, which is very similar to the Razr--although the Katana has a slightly beveled front, while the Razr's front flap is flat. We liked the Katana's large, 1-inch-diagonal, 65,000-color external 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 screen, which is rather disappointing 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 can change the display's backlight time and font size, but you can'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. Above 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 surface, making them difficult to dial by feel. Perhaps worse than either of the two, the keys on the Katana are terribly slippery, which made navigating the menu even trickier. The keys glow bright blue when activated, and you can adjust the backlight timer on the keys.