The other day I mentioned that I recently bought a new Sprint PCS cell phone, and have been playing around with a free trial of their unlimited internet access (a.k.a. Vision). The phone in question is a Sanyo MM-7400, and I thought I’d review a few of its features here for anyone that might be in the market for a new cell phone…
First off, this phone isn’t cheap. It typically retails for around $349, although you should be able to knock $150 off that with activation. I was actually able to find a reconditioned unit at Radio Shack and ended up saving an additional $70 (so I paid $129 after rebate and before tax). It’s important to note here the distinction between refurbished and reconditioned Sprint phones. The former are defective phones that have been repaired, and they carry a six month warranty. The latter, which is what I got, are simply phones that were returned during the 14-day satisfaction guarantee. These phones get cleaned up, checked out, and repackaged prior to re-sale, and they carry a full 12 month warranty. If you can find one, they really are as good as new (albeit quite a bit cheaper).
So how do I like this phone? In short, it’s great. One feature that I was looking for in a new phone was a camera. Given that we have four kids, I’m never far from a photo opportunity. More often than not, however, I don’t have a camera with me. While the quality of camera phone pictures leaves something to be desired, getting a less than perfect picture beats the heck out of getting nothing at all. Beyond sporting a VGA (i.e., 640 x 480) camera, the MM-7400 can record/playback short (and small) videos, ranging from 15-30 seconds depending on quality. Thus far, both the photo and video capabilities have turned out to be very fun features. While I don’t have much to compare to in the world of camera phones, the picture quality is pretty good (for a phone), especially outdoors. While the camera has a flash, but it doesn’t seem to do much good for anything other than extreme closeups.
Once you’ve taken a few pictures and/or videos you will, of course, want to be able to review your handiwork. As it turns out, the display on this phone is great, and looking at pictures/videos on it is a joy. The colors are bright and crisp, and the the display itself is pretty big — 176 x 220 pixels. What about getting your data off the phone? While the MM-7400, like any Vision-capable camera phone, can directly upload or send pictures (or videos), that’s a pretty pricey endeavor — $10/month for Vision access plus $5/month for Picture Mail and another $5/month for Video Mail. Fortunately, I’ve been able to grab the pictures and videos off the phone using a USB cable (~$20 from Radio Shack) and the freely available BitPim. The added benefit of this approach is that I can clean the pictures up in PhotoShop before e-mailing them to people. Given this, I seriously doubt that I’ll keep the online access once the free trial ends.
Beyond having a camera, another thing that I was looking for in a phone was durability. Once again, the MM-7400 doesn’t disappoint. This phone sports a rugged plastic exterior, complete with rubber ‘bumpers’ around the edges. While this might sound kind of bulky, it really isn’t.
In terms of performance, this phone seems to pick up a great signal pretty much anywhere that I go, and the sound quality is good. Another nice feature is the speaker phone. Although it’s just half duplex (i.e., only one party can talk at a time), it works well and I’ve been especially happy to have it when I’ve found myself waiting on hold. Another positive is that the battery life has been surprisingly good, especially given the amount of time that I’ve spent taking pictures and shooting videos. This phone also comes with a bunch of other features that I haven’t played around with, and likely never will. For example, the ‘MM’ in the name stands for multimedia. Thus, if you’re willing to pay the price, you can stream video and/or music over your phone. It’s also ReadyLink capable, which is Sprint’s answer to Nextel’s push-to-talk service. Once again, you have to pay to play, and I can’t figure out why you’d bother when you can make PCS-to-PCS calls for free. I guess it might be useful in certain businesses and, now that Sprint has merged with Nextel, you’ll probably have a lot more people to talk with.
All in all, I’d have to say that I’m really happy with my purchase. I’ve already taken a bunch of priceless pictures that I otherwise would have missed, and the ability to capture videos has been great fun. If you’d like more information on the Sanyo MM-7400, complete with detailed technical specs, I suggest that you check out PhoneScoop’s review.