When Sanyo and Sprint launched the Sanyo Katana a year ago, we called it yet another Razr competitor, and couldn't help but compare it to the infamous skinny flip phone. Indeed, the Sanyo Katana had a slim silhouette that looked remarkably like the Motorola Razr V3m. That said, it only offered basic features--a VGA camera, Bluetooth, and not much else--so it wasn't quite the Razr-killer we expected.
Fast-forward a year later, and Sanyo and Sprint have launched two new Sanyo Katanas. The Sanyo Katana DLX is an amped-up version of the original Katana, with multimedia and broadband offerings aplenty, while the Sanyo Katana II only has a few minor upgrades. In this review, we'll concentrate on the Sanyo Katana II. The Katana II has the same features as the original Katana, save for slightly improved memory and a more streamlined design, so it's clearly meant for those who want a stylish phone without a lot of bells and whistles. The Sanyo Katana II comes in pink fascination, cosmic black, and midnight steel. And while we're disheartened that it's not too different from the first Katana, we're pleased that it's quite a bit cheaper at $49.99 after a two-year contract.
As we mentioned, the primary difference between the first Katana and the Sanyo Katana II is in the design. Though it still has a superslim profile, the Katana II has a much sleeker and streamlined look on the front, with clean straight lines and a shinier appearance. The Katana II measures 3.7 inches tall by 1.9 inches wide by 0.6 inch thick, which makes it a hair smaller than its predecessor. It's comfortable to hold in the hand and next to the ear, though its glossy surface makes it prone to fingerprint smudges.
The external display is the same as that of the first Katana as well. It's about 1 inch diagonally and supports 65,000 colors. It displays the usual signal strength, battery life, time, photo caller ID, plus it also acts as a camera viewfinder for self-portraits. The volume rocker is on the left spine of the top flap, while the headset jack is on the left spine of the bottom flap. On the right side there's a dedicated camera button on the top, plus a charger jack on the bottom. We felt the side buttons to be way too skinny for our tastes.
The main or internal display is like that of its predecessor as well, measuring about 2.2 inches diagonally with 65,000 colors. You can change the display's backlight time and font size but not the brightness or contrast. You can also choose to have a screensaver, or display a clock/calendar on the main page. The menu design has a far more colorful look than the first Katana, with animated and bright icons.
As for the keypad, the button layout is a little different from its predecessor, with a circular four-way toggle instead of a square one, and the buttons are a tad smaller. Otherwise, they're pretty much the same: The navigation array consists of two soft keys, the aforementioned toggle that acts as shortcuts to contacts, the alarm clock, the My Content folder, the wireless Web browser, and the middle OK key. There's also a dedicated camera button, a back button, the Talk and End/power keys, plus a speakerphone key between them. The keys are raised enough above the surface to dial by feel.
Features on the Sanyo Katana II are not that different from the first Katana. In fact, the only feature upgrades are an increased memory of up to 21MB and an update to Bluetooth 2.0. Therefore, the following section lifts heavily from the review of the original Katana.