Review of the Sanyo ZIO Handset From Sprint

Posted by at 12:31 pm on November 9, 2010

Recently, we received the Sanyo Zio from Sprint to try and we were pretty pleased with it overall.   It is an Android phone that runs on version 2.1 of the Android software on  a 600-Mhz Qualcomm MSM7627, ARM11 processor. The Zio has a nice form factor, it is lightweight but still solidly constructed.   It appears to be all plastic.   The edges curve in a way that makes it comfortable to hold.

It doesn’t have a physical keyboard, all actions are accomplished either via the touchscreen or with the trackball.   The trackball is smooth and responsive without being overly sensitive, it makes navigating long lists or large numbers of icons easier than finger scrolling for me and also makes it less like to hit the wrong item by mistake.

Buttons and Controls

  • Front Keys, Home – Menu – Back- Search are capacitive touch keys in the standard Android configuration, underneath those are the Talk and End keys
  • HOME Key: returns you to the Home screen. Touch and hold to show the recently used applications.
  • MENU Key: lets you open the menus of the current screen or application.
  • TALK Key: allows you to place or receive calls, answer Call Waiting, use 3-Way Calling, activate Voice Dialer, view the Call log tab, or turn on the screen back light while turned off.
  • Trackball: allows you to highlight or select an item the screen.
  • END Key: lets you turn the device on or off, end a call, or turn the screen back light on or off.
  • BACK Key: returns you to the previous screen or closes the dialog box.
  • SEARCH Key: allows you to activate the Search function to search information on your device and the Internet.
  • LED Indicator: shows your device’s battery status. It also flashes for incoming calls or pending notifications.

The one button that is placed in such a way as to make it a deal breaker were I looking to purchase this phone is the camera button.   It is placed on the lower right hand side about 3/4 of an inch from the bottom of the unit.   I am left handed, with a small hand and short fingers, and it seemed that no matter how I held the Zio or what I was doing (turning from portrait to landscape to watch video even) I was always accidently hitting the camera button accidentally unless I consciously worked to avoid it.   Doug and others did not have this problem.   So do a hold test in the store, before taking the phone home.

On the sides of the Zio, the headphone jack, opening for the power plug and microSD card slot all have covers, but are easy to access and use. I initially wondered about these kind of covers when I saw them on other phones (attached to the body of the phone with a little plastic “spring”) but I’ve not managed to break one yet. The microSD card has its own slot, with cover, so the batteryor the back cover  does not have to be removed to access the SD card.

What It Sounds Like

The speaker is capable of producing the loudest clear volume I’ve heard on a device this size which makes it good if you are trying to show someone a video or if you just don’t feel like putting on headphones.   It is also great for when you are using the Zio as a speaker phone, in your car say, you can actually hear the person you are talking

Showing and Taking Pictures

This display on the Zio is a 800-by-480, 262k-color TFT LCD capacitive touch screen. It’s good for watching video, but does not pack the same punch as the AMOLED displays found on higher end Android handsets.

The camera quality is acceptable, the best snapshots come from a steady hand and optimal light conditions. Video playback is a bit jittery, but the mic picks up sound pretty well. Gallery and camera controls are standard Android stuff, so if you like them then the controls and view/playback on the Zio should present you with few problems.

The battery life is good, I was able to get through a typical day of use on a single charge most times.One handicap for the handset is that the Zio is a 3G phone.   Many of the native Sprint apps and other apps as well, just do not perform acceptably when throttled by 3G speeds.   Making this a 4G phone would have made sense, especially with the way Sprint is pushing their customer base toward 4G adoption.

Sprint ID

The ZIO is one of the new phones that comes equipped with the new SprintID feature, it allows you to get packs of themed content including wallpaper, apps and ringtones that are installed all at once, saving you the trouble of having to search the marketplace for a bunch of fashion or sports related content.   The variety of available ID Packs is still limited since the service is new, but there are packs focused at sports enthusiasts, small business users, gamers and entertainment junkies, currently.   SprintID limits you to 6 ID packs on a device at any one time, if you want a different when after you already have 6 then you will have to delete one.

If you are a business user, you will appreciate the fact that the ZIO comes loaded with a licensed copy of TouchDown.   We here at ToT have found it to be our favorite mobile mail client on any platform.   You can do all the things that you can do with outlook on a PC, including contact management and calendaring.

Price

The cost $99 on a two year contract with Sprint.

Rating 4.0

For the price, this is a good phone. It seems pretty peppy on Android 2.1 and is lightweight to hold or carry. Combined with the new SprintID feature, this handset is good for someone who is new to smart phones, or who wants smart phone functionality without having to pay the hefty prices of some of the higher end models.    

Pros:

  • Screen is good
  • Sound/speaker is great, good for speaker phone calls
  • Comes with TouchDown

Cons:

  • Camera button is poorly placed for lefties
  • No 4G option
  • Not Android 2.2

Core Specs

  • Modes – CDMA 800 / CDMA 1900; Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g)
  • Processor – 600MHz MSM 7627 (ROM: 512MB / RAM: 256MB)
  • Display – (Size) 3.5 in, (Resolution) 480 x 800 pixel
  • Size – 116mm (4.6 in) x 58.6mm (2.3 in) x 12.2mm (0.5 in)
  • Weight – 105g (3.7 ounces)
  • Talk Time – Up to 336 mins (Standby Time Up to 240 hrs.)
  • Camera – 3.2 Megapixel, with 30 frame-per-second video record and playback
  • Input Method – Trackball, Touch Screen, Software Keyboard, Wireless Keyboard (purchased separately)

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