In short, the Sprint ID offers "ID packs" that you can change by pressing the designated touch control at the bottom of the display. Each ID pack contains a combination of wallpaper, widgets, home screen shortcut buttons, and apps that are bundled together to create a themed experience. As you switch between ID Packs, the home screen and other elements will change accordingly. The Zio will come with a selection of ID packs, but you can download more and create your own. For example, the Sprint ID Pack features yellow wallpaper and includes access to dedicated Sprint apps like Sprint Zone and Nascar Mobile.
Though Sprint ID is interesting and it allows the carrier to differentiate itself, I'm not a big fan. The whole experience feels forced and it appears to be another way for a carrier to repackage Android in a manner that goes against the operating system's open spirit. Also, I have to agree with Jessica Dolcourt's analysis in her . Not only does she see it as an avenue to crapware, but she also worries that Sprint ID will result in stealth advertising.
On the other hand, Sprint ID does bring the Zio SCP-8600 one big advantage: because the feature is compatible only with Android 2.1 and above, Sprint had to give the Zio a newer version of the OS. Though we'd prefer Android 2.2 out of the gate (the Zio will upgrade to Froyo in the future), we'll take 2.1 over the ancient OS 1.6 we had on Cricket's Zio. include five home screens and notable interface improvements.
Other features are unchanged. Inside you'll find a personal organizer, a 3.2-megapixel camera with video recording, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, a speakerphone, PC syncing, USB mass storage, a music player, GPS, voice commands, messaging and e-mail, access to the Android market, and the usual assortment of Android apps. On the downside, you don't get the File Browser app we had on the Cricket handset.
We tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1900) Sanyo Zio in San Francisco using Sprint service. Call quality was quite good, with admirable clarity and little or no static or interference. We also enjoyed slightly louder volume than on the Cricket model, which is odd considering it's basically the same phone. The difference was minimal, but it was nonetheless noticeable.
On their end, callers said we sounded good. They could tell we were using a cell phone, but most of our friends had no complaints. A couple of people mentioned some static, but they added that it wasn't overwhelming. Also, as on the Cricket phone, we had to speak up if there was a lot of background noise, particularly if we were talking to an automated voice responsive system. Speakerphone calls were loud, but also a bit shrill on our end.
Data support tops out at Sprint's 3G EV-DO network, so don't count on any WiMax speeds on the Zio. Data speeds on this Zio were a tad slow overall--it took more than a minute to open busy sites like Giantbomb.com--but sites with fewer graphics will load more quickly. To save time, the Zio will default to the mobile version of a Web site if one is available.
The Zio has a rated battery life of 4.6 hours talk time, compared with a promised 6.9 hours on the Cricket phone. It has a tested talk time of 5 hours and 4 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the Zio has a digital SAR rating of 1.39 watts per kilogram.