Messaging phones have become the latest cell phone trend to sweep the country, as all four national carriers now carry some kind of full QWERTY handset made primarily for sending out texts and e-mails. The latest manufacturer to jump on the bandwagon in the U.S. is Sanyo, which has just released the Sanyo SCP-2700 for Sprint. The SCP-2700 is not a feature-rich handheld by any means--it doesn't have 3G or a music player--but it does have that full QWERTY keyboard with threaded text messaging, support for corporate e-mail, plus a 1.3-megapixel camera and Bluetooth. It's also one of the cheapest messaging phones out there at only $29.99 with a two-year service agreement.
The Sanyo SCP-2700 has a very straightforward design, and looks a little like a lower-end version of a BlackBerry, or a thicker version of the Pantech Slate. Measuring 4.3 inches long by 2.4 inches wide by 0.6 inch thick, the SCP-2700 is encased in glossy plastic with a checkered texture design on the back. The SCP-2700 is also quite lightweight at 3.4 ounces. It feels good in the hand, but the glossy surface does make it prone to fingerprints.
On the front of the SCP-2700 is a decent 2.2-inch diagonal display with 65,536 colors and 320x240 pixel resolution. We would've liked 262,000 colors instead, but since the SCP-2700 isn't a very high-end phone, we were fine with it. The screen looks nice and bright, and the text is legible and sharp. You can adjust the backlight time, the size of the input font, and the sleep mode timer.
Underneath the display is the navigation array, which consists of two soft keys, a square navigation toggle with middle confirmation key, a dedicated text-messaging key, a back key, and the Send and End/Power keys. The aforementioned toggle is mapped to four user-defined shortcuts, while the middle confirmation key leads to the main menu when on standby mode. All the keys are sufficiently raised above the surface, and are easy to use.
Below the navigation array is the QWERTY keyboard, which is what makes the SCP-2700 a messaging phone. The keyboard is a little small, like that on the Palm Centro, but we really liked how tactile the keys are. The keys are raised above the surface, plus they have a bubble-like texture that makes it easy to type. There's also a dedicated emoticon key that brings up the different emoticons while you're typing out a text message. The dedicated speakerphone key is on the bottom right of the keyboard.
On the left spine are a charger jack, a dedicated camera key, and the volume rocker, while a 2.5mm headset jack sits on the right spine. On the back is the camera lens and an external speaker. There is no flash or self-portrait mirror.
The Sanyo SCP-2700 doesn't have a lot of features going for it, but it does do messaging very well, which suits its primary purpose. It has a basic 600-entry phone book, with room in each entry for six phone numbers, three e-mail addresses, a Web URL, a street address, and a memo. You can assign contacts with a photo for caller ID and to different caller groups as well. You can also assign one of 37 polyphonic ringtones for incoming calls, text messages, picture mails, and voice SMS. Other basic features include a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, text and multimedia messaging, an alarm clock, a calendar, a countdown timer, a stopwatch, a voice memo recorder, and a world clock. There's also a wireless Web browser, Bluetooth, instant messaging (AIM, Windows Live, and Yahoo), e-mail, and voice SMS. There's also GPS support for location-based services like Sprint Navigator.