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Sanyo M1 (Sprint) review: Sanyo M1 (Sprint)

The Sanyo M1 is a multimedia-powerhouse cell phone from Sprint. It won't win any design awards, but its solid feature set and 1GB of internal memory make this an excellent handset for media junkies.

Nicole Lee Former Editor
Nicole Lee is a senior associate editor for CNET, covering cell phones, Bluetooth headsets, and all things mobile. She's also a fan of comic books, video games, and of course, shiny gadgets.
Nicole Lee
6 min read
Sanyo M1


Sanyo M1 (Sprint)

The Good

The Sanyo M1 is a feature-packed multimedia phone with a 2-megapixel camera, EV-DO support, ReadyLink (Sprint's push-to-talk service), a music player, stereo speakers, access to Power Vision content such as streaming audio and video, and an astounding 1GB of internal memory. Audio quality is good as well.

The Bad

The Sanyo M1 is a boxy and clunky handset. It can be hard to view the screen in bright daylight, and pictures taken with the phone's camera can be a little murky.

The Bottom Line

The Sanyo M1 is a multimedia-powerhouse cell phone from Sprint. It won't win any design awards, but its solid feature set and 1GB of internal memory make this an excellent handset for media junkies.

The Sanyo M1 made an impressive debut in late 2006, not only because it's Sanyo's first high-end handset in the U.S. but also because of its record-breaking 1GB of internal memory. The M1 is chock-full of multimedia features that will delight the power user, especially with support for Sprint's Power Vision content. That said, the M1 is rather bulky in size, and its lackluster appearance may not be to everyone's tastes. The M1 is available for $199 with purchase of a service plan.

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.

The Sanyo M1 has external music controls.

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.

The Sanyo M1 has a 2-megapixel camera.

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.

The primary attraction of the M1 is its feature set. Not only does it have support for Sprint's ReadyLink push-to-talk service, but also it has plenty of multimedia features that take full advantage of Sprint's EV-DO service. The M1 has a 500-contact address book, and each entry can hold up to six numbers, an e-mail address, a Web URL, a home address, and a memo. You also can assign them to a caller group, or pair them with one of 17 polyphonic ringtones (a bit low for a music phone), and a photo for caller ID. You can even assign a video ringtone if you wish. Other features of the phone include a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, stereo speakers, Bluetooth 2.0 with an A2DP profile, a voice recorder, voice command and voice dialing, text and multimedia messaging, e-mail, instant messaging, an alarm clock, a world clock, a calendar, a countdown clock, a stopwatch, a calculator, and a wireless Web browser. You can also use the M1 as a mass storage drive via USB, and as a Bluetooth modem with your laptop. Sprint also has an optional Wireless Backup feature so that you can store your contacts list on Sprint's server as a backup.

One of the main attractions of the M1 is its support of Sprint's offering of multimedia content from its Power Vision streaming video service. Available channels on Sprint TV include CNNtoGo, ABC News, the Weather Channel, the Cartoon Network, Music Choice, Access Hollywood, Diva for beauty tips, Fox Sports, Discovery Channel, and even movies and trailer previews. You can also stream Sirius radio, Rhapsody Radio, and many more audio channels. If you want more details on Sprint's multimedia offerings, please read our review of the Sprint Power Vision service. An additional feature: the M1 also supports Sprint's new On-Demand service, where you can get the latest news, sports, weather, and stock market information.

The highlight feature of the M1 appears to be its music player. Thanks to its 1GB of internal memory, the M1 can store up to 16 hours of music (or a combination of data, music, and images). Though we would've liked a microSD card slot for additional memory, the 1GB of memory should satisfy most users. You can either transfer MP3, AAC, and AAC+ files from your PC to the M1 or download tunes from Sprint's music store. You can manage your playlists via the music store or create your own playlists on the phone itself. We loved that we could use our own earphones, thanks to a headset adapter. Audio quality was actually pretty good when heard through the earbuds, and even the stereo speaker sounded pretty decent.

The Sanyo M1 took rather murky photos.

The M1 also comes with a 2-megapixel camera with autofocus. We were impressed with the sheer array of camera settings. They include four different resolutions (1,200x1,600; 960x1,280; 480x640; 240x320), three quality settings (Fine, Normal, Economy), six different picture modes, a flash, up to 16x digital zoom, a self-timer, multiple shots, fun frames, color tones, the brightness, the white balance, sharpness, and contrast. You can also choose from three shutter sounds, plus there's a silent shutter option. There's also a camcorder, which can record both in 320x240 or 176x144, and from 10 seconds all the way to 120 minutes.

Personalization options are plenty. You can choose from an array of different wallpapers and screensavers, plus the way the date and time are displayed on the menu screen. You can also alter the greeting, the menu style, and the color the screen flashes when there's an incoming call. You can download additional ringtones and images from Sprint's Web site. The M1 supports 3D games, and some of the built-in games include Pac-Man, a demo of Tetris, and Midnight Bowling.

We tested the dual-band, dual-mode (CDMA 800/1900; AMPS 800; EV-DO) Sanyo M1 in San Francisco using Sprint's service. We really liked the call quality, and callers reported great sound quality on their end as well. Speakerphone volume was nice and loud, probably thanks to the stereo speakers. Photo quality was a little disappointing for a 2-megapixel camera, and images looked a little too murky for our tastes. Streaming video and audio quality from Sprint's Power Vision network was pretty good; we experienced fast load times, and it took us an average of 5 seconds to download a song. We managed to pair the M1 with the Plantronics Discovery 665 Bluetooth headset successfully. The Sanyo M1 impressed us with a 4 hour and 20 minute talk time. According to FCC radiation tests, the Sanyo M1 has a digital SAR rating of 0.71 watts per kilogram.