As we just mentioned, the Sanyo M1 is a hefty phone. Measuring at 3.6x1.9x0.9 inches and weighing in at 3.8 ounces, the M1 won't fit in your pants pocket easily. What's more, its boxy and chunky appearance won't win any design accolades, and its glossy black exterior was a little too fingerprint-prone to our tastes. And despite the bulk, the M1 also feels a little cheap and plastic in the hand, almost like a walkie-talkie rather than a phone. That said, we found it comfortable enough to hold and to cradle next to our ears.
We're glad to see a 1.3-inch color external screen that displays battery and signal strength and the date and time. You also can view song playlists and the currently playing track when the music player is activated. By pressing the Camera button on the right, you can launch the camera, the camcorder, or the voice recorder without flipping open the phone. Similarly, you can activate the voice recorder simply by holding down the Voice Recorder button on the left spine for a few seconds. Since the external screen supports a healthy 260,000 colors, it shows photo caller ID and functions as a camera viewfinder when the phone is closed. Underneath the external screen are the circular music player controls that look a bit like the iPod-like controls on the LG Fusic. Above the screen are the stereo speakers. The left spine is home to the aforementioned Voice Recorder button and a headset jack and the volume rocker, while the Voice Command button and the Camera button are to the right.
Flip open the phone, and you're presented with a lovely 2-inch QVGA TFT 262,000-color display. Images look great on the screen, and we like the colorful animated menu icons. You can adjust the display's backlight time and the font size, but you can't adjust the screen's brightness or contrast. The screen looked just fine indoors, but we had a hard time seeing it out in bright daylight. Below the display are two soft keys, a four-way navigation toggle with a center Menu/OK key, a dedicated Camera key, a Back key, a Talk and End/Power key, plus a dedicated Speakerphone key in the middle. The navigation toggle also doubles as shortcuts to text messaging, Sprint's On Demand service, the My Content menu, and the media player. These keys plus the alphanumeric keypad are a tad slippery, but they're raised sufficiently above the surface so that you can dial by feel. The keypad has a blue backlight when the phone is activated.