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Sanyo has built a solid relationship with its cell phones, as they often rank highly on consumer research studies. And as any Sanyo fan knows, the company's handsets are only available with Sprint. The Sanyo SCP-3200 is the latest collaboration between the two companies. Available in three colors--Atlantic blue, midnight black, and playful pink--the SCP-3200 is a functional phone with a simple design. Its features are solidly midrange, with Bluetooth, a speakerphone, a VGA camera and support for push-to-talk (PTT) service. It's fairly priced at $199 if you pay full price, but you can get it for as low as $29 with service rebates.
The SCP-3200 doesn't go to great lengths to grab your attentions. Sporting a traditional flip phone design, it ditches the usual external antenna in favor of clean, simple lines. The pink version is a bit too bright; we prefer the black and the blue models instead. The most prominent feature is a large wedge-shape antenna on the front face. While we admit the speaker makes the phone look a tad severe, it's in a good location for clear speakerphone calls. At 3.5 inches long by 1.9 inches wide by 0.8 inch thick, the SCP-3200 fits neatly in a pocket, and its 3.4 ounces won't weigh you down. Though the front and rear faces are made of plastic, the phone feels solid in the hand and comfortable when held against the ear. Also, the flap snaps into place with an audible clock.
The speaker measures about an inch long, and in case you forget what it's used for, it's labeled "speakerphone" just above. Below is the one-inch (96x32 pixels) external display that shows the time, battery life, signal strength, and caller ID. It is monochrome, so it won't show photo caller ID, but you can change the backlighting time. On the bottom of the front flap are the camera lens and a small mirror for self-portraits. Completing the exterior of the SCP-3200 are a volume rocker and PTT button on the left spine, a covered headset jack and a camera shutter on the right spine, and a covered charger port on the bottom end.
The internal display measures 1.75 inches (128x160 pixels) and shows off 65,000 colors. It's quite serviceable for this caliber of phone. Colors were bright, though graphics looked a tad fuzzy. You can change the backlighting time but no other options are customizable. Sanyo's menu interface could use a fine-tuning, but it's easy to understand.
The navigation array consists of a four-way toggle with a central OK button, two soft keys, a camera shutter, a Back button, a speakerphone control, and the Talk and End/Power keys. The keys have a somewhat cheap plastic feel but they're large and are raised slightly above the surface of the phone. The toggle and speakerphone key are also colored in black, so they're easy to identify. The tactile keypad buttons are user-friendly as well. Not only could we dial by feel, but the numbers on the backlit keys are large.
The SCP-3200 has a 300-contact phone book with room in each entry for multiple phone numbers, e-mail, Web and street addresses, and notes. You can save callers to groups and assign them a photo or one of 25 polyphonic ringtones. There's a separate phone book for PTT numbers. The SCP-3200 also offers Sprint's Wireless Backup service for storing your contacts for safekeeping. Other essentials include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, a voice memo recorder, a calendar, an alarm clock, a countdown timer, a stopwatch, a calculator and a world clock.
But the SCP-3200 isn't all basics, as it offers a selection of higher-end features as well. Inside you'll find Bluetooth, PC modem support with an optional USB cable, Sprint's Ready Link PTT service, parental controls with Sprint's Family Locator, instant messaging, Sprint Mobile e-mail, and support for Sprint's navigation service. On the entertainment side, the Sanyo offers Sprint Radio and NFL Mobile. You also get demo versions of five games: Tower Bloxx, World Series of Poker, Tetris, Midnight Bowling and Pac-Man. You'll have to buy the full versions for extended play.
The VGA camera takes pictures in three resolutions--640x480, 320x240 and 160x120--with three separate quality selections (Fine, Normal, and Economy). The camera also features a 5- to 10-second self-timer; nine fun frames; four picture modes (including a night shot option); seven color tones; brightness and white-balance controls; multishot and stitch shot option; and two shutter sounds (plus a silent option). There's also a digital zoom, but it's unusable at the highest resolution. Unfortunately, the camera doesn't record video, which is a feature we'd like to see on this type of phone. Also, there's no flash, but there is a self-portrait mirror.
You can personalize the SCP-3200 with a variety of wallpapers, clock styles, background colors, animations, key tones and alert sounds. You can write a personalized greeting as well. If you want more options, you can download them from Sprint via the WAP 2.0 wireless Web browser.
We tested the dual-band, dual-mode (CDMA 800/1900; AMPS 800) SCP-3200 in San Francisco using Sprint's service. Call quality was pretty good overall. We enjoyed more than enough volume and great clarity. There was little static or interference, and we had no problem getting a signal. Voices sounded natural for the most part, though we noticed a slight metallic effect on a couple of occasions. It didn't distract from our overall experience, though. Callers said we sounded fine. They didn't report any significant problems, though the phone seemed to pick up some amount of wind noise. Also, they could tell we were using a cell phone. Automated answering systems could understand us in most environments.
Speakerphone calls were loud and clear, though we couldn't help but notice a very slight echo sound. Callers reported no issues on their end, however. Bluetooth calls were fine, and we had no problems pairing the SCP-3200 with a headset.
The SCP-3200 has a rated battery life of 3.8 hours talk time. According to FCC radiation testes, Sanyo SCP-3200 has a digital SAR rating of 1.41 watts per kilogram and an analog SAR rating of 1.40 watts per kilogram. In our tests, the battery life surpassed the rated time by about 2 hours for a total of 5 hours, 8 minutes.