Sanyo’s M1 has just entered the mass-promotion phase of release. PhoneNews.com has just finished a month of battle-testing the device, and we’ll let you know if Sanyo’s latest offering finally steps back up with the competition. Read more to find out.
The Sanyo M1 has a couple of goals for Sanyo. First is to restore a rather tarnished position in the top-tier of Sprint’s lineup. The last high-end phone that Sanyo sold was the Sanyo MM-9000, itself was simply a Sanyo MM-5600 with EV-DO tacked on. Worse, the Sanyo 9000 has been discontinued for quite awhile, abandoning the entire class of phone to the likes of Samsung and LG.
The second goal is probably about as ambitious as the first. Sanyo wanted to make a high-end phone that a mid-range or low-end user could actually take advantage of. All the time people walk around with high-end, expensive phones that they wind up simply using for voice calls and text messaging. The Sanyo M1 has made some key compromises to help cater to both high-end users and people that are new to high-end phones. Namely, the phone has received the most discussion from users because it dropped memory card access for a large internal storage space, 1 GB. While microSD cards now stretch to 2 GB, 1 GB is still more than enough storage for any multimedia application, and matches flash-based music players.
Clearly Sanyo has more riding on the M1 than a normal phone. The company constantly has watched reports stream to the media of their wireless division being sold, spun off, or shut down. The M1 is a make-or-break phone for Sanyo’s current business structure in the United States.
First Impressions, Basic Phone
The very first impression you get from the M1 is how it differs from the traditional Sanyo form factor. It holds differently than previous Sanyo flip-phones in every respect. The sides are slimmer with keys reaching out to the borders for easier pressing. The phone is also notably more compact… it resembles a portable music player on the inside and outside more than a typical offering from Sanyo. The front-facing music/multimedia controls are simply elegant to use.
But, the biggest first impression you get from it is what it’s missing… the external antenna. This is the first high-end Sanyo phone (not to mention the first EV-DO Sanyo) to drop the external antenna. As much as that doesn’t seem like a major thing, it is something that really makes the Sanyo M1’s form-factor stand out as that of a good, solid yet high-tech phone.
Voice calling worked as expected, without any problems. Like other Sanyo phones, the speakerphone functioned adequately. As to the earpiece, many are longing for a return to older Sanyo 5300-era earpiece quality. The Sanyo M1 certainly is no 5300, but the audible quality is not bad either. Bluetooth also makes dumping the earpiece a viable option, but users won’t be irritated anymore at a sub-par earpiece. As alluded to however, the earpiece on the M1 is not the industry’s best… something which Sanyo at one point held and set a standard for.
Advanced Phone Functionality
Web, Java, and other functions worked flawlessly. Writing a review on these features is becoming more difficult because they’re expected to work, and they work just fine. GPS Navigation didn’t lose a beat with Garmin Mobile used.
Multimedia on this phone just sings. It’s that simple. From the media player that gives you complete control, to A2DP that works better than any iPod, to uiOne that is simply flawless. It’s perfect in every respect.
A year ago (almost to the day actually), A2DP updates were being put out for cell phones. To this day, $700 PDAs are still grappling with the notion of it. The Sanyo M1 handles A2DP perfectly, with excellent audio clarity that is simply as good as the iPod with wires. No static, no cutting out, and total control of the phone’s functionality. While this may be old hat for phones like LG’s Chocolate, it is more than notable when part of a broader package.
With the M1, it was simply… simple. You can select a gigabyte of music from iTunes, and drop it onto Bluetooth File Sharing on your computer. Target the M1, and watch as a gig of my music streams onto your phone without any problem. And, it plays without any problem. This is not a “smart” phone, but it handles wireless music sync with wireless music playback better than Windows Mobile or Palm OS can even try to.
Browsing media is also refined. The file browser in the phone works properly, and you can access music and video from the Media Player without problem. While that’s expected, the ability to browse effortlessly from the external LCD was not. Browsing music, even with the phone closed, was as easy as an iPod. That’s a huge asset when combined with A2DP.
Even better, is how it handles TV. Regardless of if you’re paying for Sprint TV or getting it free from your Home PC, the Sanyo M1 plays TV better than any other Sprint phone. Some have complained about Sanyo’s media player, but such complaints are gone with the M1. Users can watch TV widescreen and even toggle the status bars (which even turn transparent for better viewing). Every high-end niche aspect has been covered. Even the extra wide external display plays video full screen when the phone is flipped closed.
In short, while the device has some hardware shortcomings (Bluetooth 2.0 and microSD are absent), they are more than made up for in the time saved simply by having the software work properly doing advanced things… things that even a year ago you wouldn’t have expected the typical phone user to be able to take advantage of.
Having high hopes for the 2 megapixel-touting M1, we were unfortunately let down. The M1 has an auto-focus lense that actually moves during the focus process slightly to better acquire light and range. However, this didn’t make things picture-perfect. More like picture-washed-out was the result.
Comparing the Sanyo M1 and Samsung M610 (a full review of which will be following this one within the next few days), it’s clear the Sanyo M1 loses. The auto-focus’s delay on taking pictures also means that you’re less likely to get the perfect shot. Video was very fluid, however also carried over the same washed-out results.
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Text, readability or other aspects were also diminished. You can’t clearly read text from the Windows Mobile 5-toting Blue Angel (Siemens SX66, far left). It’s hard to tell the device is even running Windows Mobile 5. While not a huge demand for the high-end Sanyo, we were hopeful that it would have just a bit better tone in imaging. For a phone this thick, a CCD camera would have been much more adequate.
The Sanyo M1 doesn’t just put Sanyo back into competition, it dominates the high-end with simplicity. Rock-solid stability combined with a full feature set sums up the M1 as an offering. While stability is something that
Sanyo has always been able to claim on Sprint’s lineup, it has been quite awhile since we have been able to say that they were catering to the high-end. The M1 delivers with every feature. And, while some will be will complain about the lack of a microSD slot, that is really a minor concern with the M1’s full Bluetooth, 1 GB of storage, and USB access.
While Bluetooth 2.0 would have been nice for enhanced Phone-As-Modem, this is the high-end phone you can suggest to anyone. As a multimedia phone, it is simply the best at everything it tries to do.
Pros: Full feature set, stability, stability, stability, long battery
life, it just works
Cons: Missing Bluetooth 2.0, microSD slot, typical poor camera phone
Final Score: 5/5