Assuming the mantle of Sprint's top-of-the-line multimedia phone, the pricey Sanyo MM-5600 enters the fray with a truckload of features, including a 1.3-megapixel camera, a video recorder, a media player that streams video clips and plays MP3s, and a 16MB Mini SD card. That said, this bulky 2.5G flip phone lacks Bluetooth and infrared connectivity, and Sprint's 1xRTT network can't handle streaming video the way that service can. At $429 (or $250 with a two-year service agreement purchased over the Web), the MM-5600 is one of the priciest multimedia phones on the market, yet it doesn't hit the highest marks. With a gray, oblong oval, the speaker grille, and the external display sharing the front of the phone, the silver Sanyo MM-5600 looks reasonably slick when closed, yet it's not as eye-catching as . Measuring 3.7 by 1.9 by 1 inches, the handset is also bulkier, making for a tight fit in a jeans pocket (especially considering the stubby, extendable antenna), and it's on the heavy side at 4.5 ounces. On the upside, though, the mobile has solid construction, and it flips open and shut firmly.
Close the phone, and you'll see the 1-inch-diagonal, 262,000-color external screen, which displays signal strength, battery life, voicemail/message status, photo caller ID info, and customizable wallpaper. The display also acts as the camera viewfinder when the phone is closed--perfect for self-portraits. Just above the speaker grille is the camera lens and a small switch for close-ups, while to the left is an LED flash that pulsates during calls and when the phone rings. Also, the tiny flash sits to the left of the speaker. Last but not least, the slot for the Mini SD card (which is protected by a rubber flip-up cover) is on the top edge, right next to the antenna.
Flip open the phone, and you'll find the big, gorgeous 262,000-color internal display. Measuring a little more than 2 inches diagonally, the razor-sharp TFT display looks great, with rich colors and plenty of detail. We also like the animated main menu, although it's not quite as elaborate as those we've seen on other multimedia-type phones. Our only real complaint is that it's hard to see the LCD in direct sunlight, a problem that's typical of TFT displays.
The MM-5600's keypad looks sharp, but it took some time for us to acclimate to the small oval keys. That said, we like the dedicated speakerphone control between the Talk and End buttons; the shortcuts on the five-way navigational keypad for messaging, contacts, and Sprint PCS downloads; and the dedicated camera buttons--one above the Talk button and the other on the right edge of the phone. Other buttons on the sides of the phone let you start a call using voice commands, tweak the volume, record a voice memo, or access Sprint PCS's two-way Ready Link service (seeBilled as a multimedia phone, the Sanyo MM-5600 has a jam-packed feature set that doesn't disappoint. The handset comes with a 300-name phone book with room in each entry for six phone numbers and an e-mail address. Caller ID contacts can be paired with a photo and any of 17 included polyphonic ring tones. Other features include a vibrate mode, voice commands and memos, a speakerphone, a calendar (with daily and monthly but no weekly views), a world clock, a calculator, an alarm clock, a stopwatch, support for Sprint's 1xRTT network and Ready Link two-way radio service, three-way calling, text and multimedia messaging, and a WAP 2.0 wireless Web browser. The mobile offers 3MB of shared memory and a 16MB Mini SD card, which you can plug into your PC with the included adapter. You even get a USB cable for phone-to-PC transfers, a luxury that doesn't usually come in the box. Missing from the mix, however, is Bluetooth and infrared connectivity for wireless file transfers and headsets. When it comes to fully functioning Bluetooth, Sprint is still behind the curve. ).