The 1-inch-diagonal external screen on the front cover shows 65,000 colors and displays the time, battery life, signal strength, voicemail/message status, and caller ID (where available). You can also customize it with different background colors and screensavers. Just below the screen, you'll find the camera lens and a flash to its right. You can use the external display as a viewfinder for self-portraits but only when the phone is closed. The speakerphone grille is above the screen, along with a tiny LED that shows your mobile's connection status. Overall, the mobile's exterior closely resembles the Sanyo PM-8200's.
Flip open the Sanyo MM-8300, and you're greeted by a colorful 1.7-inch-diagonal screen. Although it displays 65,000 colors just as well, the hues seem more vibrant, and the images and text appear sharper with its 176x220-pixel resolution, which make viewing Web pages on this handset a real treat. The numerical keypad and navigation controls are adequately sized and well spaced. To navigate through the easy-to-use menus, there is a five-way toggle with a center menu/OK key. The toggle--which acts as a shortcut to the address book, downloads, messaging, and one user-defined feature--is flanked by two soft keys, a Back button, and a dedicated camera key. Below them are the Talk and End keys, as well as a speakerphone activation button--always a nice touch. Kudos aside, dialing by feel was a bit difficult, since the number keys are set flush with the phone's surface.
Other controls on the Sanyo MM-8300 include a headset jack; a volume rocker; a voice recorder button that also accesses Sprint's Ready Link service on the left spine; a camera activation key; and a side call button that lets you make calls without opening the phone on the right side.The MM in the Sanyo MM-8300 stands for multimedia, and the phone doesn't disappoint in this area. You get a 300-contact phone book with room in each entry for six numbers, as well as an e-mail and a Web address. For caller ID purposes, you can pair a contact with a photo or one of 11 polyphonic (72-chord) ring tones. You're not limited by voice calls, as you can keep in touch with family and friends via text and multimedia messaging, instant messaging, e-mail, and Sprint's Ready Link two-way radio service. Other features include voice memos; voice dialing for up to 30 names; a speakerphone; a vibrate mode; a WAP 2.0 Web browser; and a host of PIM goodies, such as a calendar, an alarm clock, a calculator, a stop watch, and a world clock. For business users, the Sanyo MM-8300 offers PC syncing, although you'll have to purchase a USB cable to do so. We were disappointed by the lack of integrated Bluetooth--or at the very least, an infrared port--in such a high-end phone.
Although we would have liked to see the Sanyo MM-8300 come equipped with a megapixel camera, its VGA-quality camera was admirable and packed with features and options. You can take pictures in three resolutions (640x480, 320x240, and 160x120) and three quality settings (Fine, Normal, and Economy). In addition, you can choose from five modes--Normal, Night/Dark, Beach/Snow, Scenery, and Soft Focus--and three shutter sounds, including a silent option and one that says "Cheez." It also has a 20X zoom, a 5- and 10-second self-timer, and a multishot function, and you can customize photos with color tones and one of four fun frames. The MM-8300 took decent pictures, and the flash helped especially for dark or nighttime shots. Once you have your images, you can save them to the phone's 2MB of internal memory, assign them to caller ID, use them as wallpaper, send them to contacts via multimedia message or e-mail, or transfer them to your PC via a USB cable. In addition, you can upload them to Sprint's Picture Mail Web site to share with family and friends; you can even order prints.