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Sanyo SCP-5300 (Sprint) review: Sanyo SCP-5300 (Sprint)

Sanyo SCP-5300 (Sprint)

Joni Blecher
4 min read
When Sanyo introduced the color-screen SCP-5000 a couple of years ago, consumers got a glimpse of what cell phones might be able to do in the future. Now, two iterations later, the SCP-5300, with its 65,000-color display and flash-equipped built-in camera, is making that vision a reality. While there are other phone/camera hybrids arriving seemingly every week, we're still pretty impressed with Sanyo's efforts. The Sanyo SCP-5300 may not be as compact as Samsung's A500, but it's not too big to fit in a small purse or a pocket. In fact, it's the same size and weight (3.7 by 1.9 by 1.1 inches; 4.1 ounces) as its predecessor, the
SCP-5150. Unlike that model, the SCP-5300 incorporates a built-in camera with a flash and a small, 65,000-color external LCD that not only displays network strength, battery life, time, and caller ID info when available but also a picture of the person calling (so long as you associate an image with his or her phone-book entry).

Say cheese: See pictures of loved ones on the phone's external LCD when they call.
Open the flip phone, and you'll see that the SCP-5300's internal 2.1-inch, 65,000-color, nine-line TFT display is the real eye-catcher. You can choose between a list-type menu interface or an icon-driven one with the interesting theme choice of world landmarks in the background. We should note that the graphics-oriented menu interface, while attractive, suffers from a slight case of dyslexia. For example, Call History may be highlighted on the menu when you want to access the phone-book icon that appears above it on the list. In such a situation, you actually need to press the down, not the up, arrow--clearly counterintuitive.
With the digital camera, you can either use the large internal display as the image finder or flip the phone closed and go to the small, 1-inch external display to frame a self-portrait. The latter also serves as an alternative to a mirror in a pinch. On the side of the phone, there's a shutter-release button, a headset jack, and two volume-control buttons, which can be used to scroll through the 5300's menus.

While not as compact as the A500, the SCP-5300 fits easily in a pocket or a purse.
As one might expect, if you're running out of subjects in your own life to decorate your phone, you can always download graphics, pictures, and sounds from the Sprint PCS Vision site. The wireless Web interface also looks jazzier. In the features department, the 5300 is pretty loaded. Highlights include a 300-name phone book, voice-activated dialing, voice memo, Spanish/English menus, caller ID, text messaging, a vibrating ringer, voicemail, games, a calendar, a world clock, and wireless Web access via Sprint's 1xRTT next-generation network. The 5300 is compatible with Sprint's PCS Business Connection service, which allows you to receive corporate e-mail and view your calendar on your phone. Two notable features are missing: a built-in speakerphone and an IR port to transfer images to other IR-enabled devices, such as a Palm. (Note: The Samsung V205 has an IR port, but you can't use it to beam images to other IR products.)

The image quality isn't the best, but it serves these small devices well.
The 5300 is also GPS ready for e911 services, and as one of Sprint's PCS Vision mobiles, it supports J2ME so that you can download ring tones, screensavers, games, and applications for a few dollars more. Some of the games are silly, while others are somewhat addictive. Frequent travelers will also appreciate that you can go into a special "airplane" mode, which allows you to play the games without having the cell radio on.
As noted, one of the 5300's major selling points is the built-in VGA digital camera. You can take pictures at three different settings: high (640x480 pixels; 10 to 15 images), medium (320x240; 30 to 68 images), and low (160x120 pixels; 63 to 74 images). You'll also find a built-in flash that doesn't have much of an impact on photos and a self-timer, as well as white-balance, color-tone, and zoom settings. You can even save images to the phone, upload the pictures to the Sprint PCS Web site, and send the URL to a friend on the fly.

Snap pictures using the shutter button on the side of the phone.
If you opt to share your photos, be aware that unless you are e-mailing them to another Sprint PCS Vision mobile, the recipient receives only a URL address where the pictures can be viewed. That said, keep in mind that capturing and delivering high-quality images is not the goal of this new breed of phone. In fact, the images are mediocre at best and not suitable for printing. However, the 5300's built-in camera does produce better images than the camera attachment for Samsung's A500. Overall, the dual-band SCP-5300 performed quite respectably. We tested the phone in the San Francisco Bay Area and found call quality to be exceptionally good. Callers said they couldn't tell we were calling from a cell phone, and on our end, they sounded loud and clear. In comparison, this mobile offered better reception than the SPH-A500.

We appreciate that the SCP-5300 comes with a normal and an extended battery.
The phone also did well in battery-life testing. Using the included extended battery, we managed to meet the 2.7 hours of talk time and 10 days of standby. If you want a slimmer mobile, try the included standard battery. However, don't stray far from the charger, as the 5300 doesn't last too long (about 2 days in standby). Additionally, taking and uploading a lot of pictures drains battery life.

Sanyo SCP-5300 (Sprint)

Score Breakdown

Design 9Features 8Performance 8