Sanyo's follow-up to last year's ultrathin SCP-6000 offers improved battery life, analog roaming, and most importantly, compatibility with Sprint PCS's next-generation voice (1xRTT) network. The result: Sanyo's most stylish cell phone--and arguably Sprint's most attractive model--is even more functional. As it stands, the phone is appropriately priced, and if it weren't a heating issue, we'd have probably awarded it an Editors' Choice.
Cosmetically, the svelte SCP-6200 is virtually identical to its predecessor, but in order to add analog roaming capabilities, Sanyo had to make the SCP-6200 slightly bigger (5.1 by 1.5 by 0.46 inches; 2.6 ounces) than the digital-only SCP-6000 (5.1 by 1.5 by 0.39 inches; 2.3 ounces). Still, the phone feels like it barely weighs anything, which makes it easy to hold for long periods. You can also plug in a headset and slip it in a man's shirt pocket.
People have a tendency to think that light products aren't durable, and though the SCP-6200 isn't exactly rugged, it held up well during testing. However, like most candy bar-style phones with exposed keypads, it's a good idea to turn on the keypad lock when the unit's stowed in a pocket or a purse.
About that keypad: The phone's backlit buttons, which are slightly raised and made of smooth plastic, take a little getting used to, and the small Menu and Clear buttons are awkwardly placed at the bottom of the phone instead of close to the display. But the buttons are spaced far enough apart that you shouldn't have many misdials. The screen is nice too. You can choose between four font sizes, and the sharp, backlit green or orange display shows up to eight lines of text. Even though the SCP-6200's monochrome screen isn't as big as the SCP-5150's color display, browsing the wireless Web is still a relatively good experience, and the one-touch Web access gets you surfing quickly.
Though lacking color, the SCP-6200 has virtually the same features as the more expensive SCP-5150. These include voice-activated dialing for up to 30 entries, voice memo, Spanish/English menus, caller ID, a four-way-rocker navigation key, a strong vibrating ringer, voicemail, the Crab Catcher game, a calendar, a world clock, a calculator, and wireless Web access. You can choose from 19 ring tones, including the distinctive samba.
If you purchase an optional software/cable package for $59.99 from Sprint PCS, you can upload graphics and sounds to the phone via your PC, or you can do it wirelessly through Sprint's Ringers And More service. The phone holds up to 30 low-res monochrome images and 32 16-chord polyphonic ring tones. You can also link an image to any entry in the 299-name phone book. If a person with an image on your phone calls, her picture will pop up on the display along with her caller ID info.
Another plus: The phone is compatible with Sprint PCS's Contact Synchronization Software. Using the optional serial cable, we were able to easily transfer contact information from Microsoft Outlook to the SCP-6200's phone book. You can synchronize your entire Outlook contact list (so long as it doesn't exceed the 299 entries) or just transfer select contacts. Other than the fact that our 6200 got warm after 15 to 20 minutes of use, we didn't have any significant performance gripes. The improved battery life is respectable. With judicious use of the backlight, we came close to the rated 3.5 hours of talk time in our tests using Sprint's network in New York City. However, we managed to get only half (five days) of the rated 280-hour standby time. Still, that's decent, and we appreciated the phone's pocket-sized charger.
We had no trouble hearing callers, and they had no trouble hearing us, though this model seems slightly louder than its predecessor. As noted, the SCP-6200 (CDMA 1900; AMPS 800) features analog roaming and compatibility with Sprint's 3G 1xRTT voice network.