Underneath the display is the navigation array, arranged in almost a half circle. They consist of two soft keys, a dedicated camera key, a Back button, plus a four-way circular toggle with a middle Menu/OK key. The toggle can be mapped to four user-defined shortcuts. The Talk key, speakerphone/voice command key, and End/Power key are underneath the toggle. We weren't fans of the keypad--the keys are somewhat flush to the surface of the phone and feel a bit slippery as well.
As an entry-level camera phone, we weren't expecting much from the Katana LX, and indeed it has almost identical features to the Katana II. Starting with the basics, it comes with a 600-entry contacts list and each entry can hold up to seven numbers, two e-mail addresses, a URL address, and a memo. You can organize contacts in caller groups, pair them with a photo for caller ID, or any of 32 polyphonic ringtones. Bear in mind the photo caller ID only shows up on the internal display, so it's probably not as useful. Other essentials include vibrate mode, speakerphone, text and multimedia messaging, a calendar, an alarm clock, a countdown clock, a stop watch, a world clock, and a calculator. More advanced users will appreciate e-mail, instant messaging, Bluetooth, voice dialing, voice recording, a wireless Web browser, and GPS functionality. The latter can only be used if you have a data plan and sign up for Sprint Navigation.
The Katana LX only comes with a VGA camera, which is understandable for a phone at this price range. You can take pictures in three resolutions (640x480, 320x240, and 160x120), three quality settings, and five picture modes (Normal, Beach/Snow, Scenery, Night/Dark, Soft Focus). Other settings include brightness, white balance, a self-timer, multishot, fun frames, color tone, zoom, and shutter sounds (three sounds plus a silent option). Photo quality was pretty disappointing, as to be expected. Images looked blurry and overcast. There's no built-in camcorder.
You can customize the Katana LX with a variety of graphics and alert tones for wallpaper, screensavers, and so forth. The Katana LX comes with a couple of Web applications--InStyle Magazine Demo and MSN Live Search--but you can always get more. On the gaming front, the phone comes with demo versions of Sims 2, Madden NFL 08, Midnight Pool, Pac-Man/Ms. Pac-Man, Tetris, and WSOP Pro Challenge Poker. As always you can download more from the Sprint store.
We tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1900) Sanyo Katana LX in San Francisco using Sprint's service. We enjoyed full signal strength in most parts of the city, and call quality was very impressive as well. Callers often thought we were on a landline, thanks to the lack of static and background noise. Speakerphone quality did not fare as well--we thought our callers sounded rather tinny, while they thought we needed to speak up a bit. We managed to pair the Sanyo Katana LX with the Plantronics Discovery 925.
The Sanyo Katana LX has a rated talk time of talk time of 4.8 hours, and a tested talk time of 5 hours and 16 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the Sanyo Katana LX has a digital SAR rating of 0.783 watt per kilogram.