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Sanyo Katana DLX 8500 review: Sanyo Katana DLX 8500

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The Good The Sanyo Katana DLX has an attractive and slender flip-phone design, plus an impressive multimedia feature set with good sound quality.

The Bad The Sanyo Katana DLX has skinny side buttons, and the speakerphone quality was so-so. We also would've liked external music player controls.

The Bottom Line The Sanyo Katana DLX is the best Sanyo cell phone to date, with a fashionable design, plenty of features, and good performance.

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8.0 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8

When Sanyo and Sprint launched the Sanyo Katana a year ago, we called it yet another Razr competitor and couldn't help but compare it to the infamous skinny flip phone. Indeed, the Sanyo Katana had a slim silhouette that looked remarkably like the Motorola Razr V3m. That said, it only offered basic features--a VGA camera, Bluetooth, and not much else--so it wasn't quite the Razr-killer we expected. Fast-forward a year later, and Sanyo and Sprint have launched two new Sanyo Katanas. The Sanyo Katana DLX is an amped-up version of the original Katana, with multimedia and broadband offerings aplenty, while the Sanyo Katana II only has a few minor upgrades.

In this review, we'll concentrate on the Sanyo Katana DLX. The Katana DLX is definitely a huge improvement over the original Katana, with a megapixel camera, a music player, EV-DO support, and more. With such an impressive multimedia feature set and great design to boot, the Sanyo Katana DLX is probably the best Sanyo handset we've seen to date. The Sanyo Katana DLX comes in pink, champagne, and silver. The Sanyo Katana DLX is quite pricey, though, at $129.99 each with a two-year contract.

The Sanyo Katana DLX looks remarkably like the Sanyo Katana II, with the same streamlined look and sleek exterior, but with slightly rounder corners and a glossier finish. It has the same measurements as the Katana II as well, at 3.7 inches tall by 1.9 inches wide by 0.6 inch deep. It fits in the hand quite well and is comfortable when held next to the ear.

We're pleased to see that the Katana DLX retains the external display of its predecessor. It measures about 1 inch diagonally, and since it supports 65,000 colors, it can also be used for photo caller ID and act as a camera viewfinder for self-portraits. The screen also displays the usual signal strength, battery life, and date and time information. Sitting on top of the screen is a camera lens plus flash LED. On the left spine, there's a volume rocker on the top flap plus a charger jack on the bottom flap. The right spine is home to a dedicated camera key on the top flap, with a microSD card slot and headset jack on the bottom.

The Sanyo Katana DLX has a 1.3-megapixel camera lens.

Flip open the phone and you'll find a lovely 2-inch diagonal display with 262,000 colors. This is far better than the display on the other Katana handsets. Images looked sharp and saturated with color. You can change the display's backlight time, font size, and contrast. It has a pretty menu design, too, with colorful and animated icons. There's also an Sprint On Demand theme option that displays four shortcut icons to the Main Menu, On Demand information, Music Player, and Text messaging right on the phone's main screen.

The Sanyo Katana DLX has a microSD card slot.

Underneath the display is a navigation array that consists of two soft keys, a four-way toggle, a middle OK key, a dedicated camera key, a back button, the Talk and End/Power keys, and a speakerphone key. When the Sprint On Demand theme is turned off, the four-way toggle also acts as shortcuts to contacts, the wireless Web, the My Content folder, and Sprint TV. The keypad feels a little slippery, but the keys do have enough texture so it's possible to dial by feel.

By far the most significant aspect of the Katana DLX lies in its rich multimedia feature set. A huge upgrade over the other Katanas, the Katana DLX actually has EV-DO, a megapixel camera, and more. But first, the basics. The Sanyo Katana DLX has a 500-entry address book, and each entry can hold up to seven numbers, an e-mail address, a Web site URL, a home address, and a memo. You can also assign your contacts to a group, a photo for caller ID, and one of 19 polyphonic (72-chord) ringtones. Other essentials include text messaging, instant messaging, voice commands, voice recording, a calendar, an alarm clock, a countdown timer, a stop watch, a world clock, a calculator, a vibrate mode, and a speakerphone. On the higher end, there's also stereo Bluetooth, EV-DO support, a wireless Web browser, and a built-in GPS with access to location-based services such as the Sprint Navigator.

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