Sanyo Katana Eclipse Review

Introduction and Design
This is a CDMA phone offered with Sprint.

The Katana Eclipse sits atop the Katana line as the best Sanyo has to offer. It has gotten a complete makeover from the Katana DLX it replaces, including two light bars that run along the sides of the phone. This is one of the highlights of the Eclipse, and the LED color and pattern can be customized for different events and callers. Music playback keys are present on the external flip, but other than that the Eclipse is basically a redesigned DLX. Features remain the same, including a 1.3 megapixel camera, microSDHC expansion and EVDO data. Included in the box you’ll find the AC charger and a 256MB memory card.


Like the Katana LX, the Eclipse has departed from the slim design language of earlier Katanas.  Unfortunately, like the LX, it has also downgraded the build quality.  The Eclipse has a 176x220, 65K color display instead of the 262K color QVGA panel found on the DLX.  The feel is decidedly more plastic than its predecessor, and overall the Eclipse feels like a step backwards from the DLX.

You can compare the Sanyo Katana Eclipse with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

The Eclipse feels narrower in the hand, but in reality dimensions are overall very similar to the DLX.  The understated design, however, is gone.  The silver version (it will be offered in pink and black in the coming months) has a mirrored yet plastic finish, with the small external screen situated just below the horizontal centerline.  The 1.3MP camera is perched at the top, with the skinny speaker running vertically below.  Under the display are the multimedia keys, which are mechanical as opposed to more common touch sensitive ones.

The screens are of poor quality, though they are easy to read in all conditions.  Both are only 65K colors, so images are washed out and color gradients appear grainy.  The internal display is 2”, but looks tiny with the massive amount of space around it.  The outside is just 1”, a norm for Sanyo but way too small nonetheless.  For comparison purposes, the Motorola RAZR VE20 sells for the same $99 but features a 1.6” external display with touch sensitive controls.  In short, Sanyo needs to step up its game.

The keypad is typical Sanyo as well.  The keys are hard, translucent plastic and offer good travel but poor feel.  The d-pad is set in a silver rectangle, with the left and right softkeys, camera and back buttons being the corners.  Send, speaker and end are actually part of the dialpad, which can be a bit disorienting.  We often found ourselves pressing the back key when we meant to press end due to the unconventional placement.

The left side of the phone has a covered microUSB charging/data port at the top with the volume rocker and a camera button below.  On the right side is a 2.5mm headset jack and microSD slot, both of which are also covered.  The back of the phone is completely bare.

The illumination feature is one of the main selling points of the phone, sadly enough.  Users can choose from 7 different colors and several patterns, with 42 choices overall.  Patterns and colors can be set for just about any event, such as text messages, calendar, key presses and can also be used to identify different callers.  It’s a fairly juvenile feature that we just can’t get into.

Overall we are unimpressed with the design and materials of the Katana Eclipse.  It is, in our opinion, a definite step back from the more grown up DLX.  The illumination is straight out of the Japanese market, but we don’t see it being very popular with most people over the age of 16 here in the States.  The plastic feel is not reassuring, and we expect it would easily be scratched.  Furthermore, when you’re at the same price point as much more capable phones such as the Curve and Touch we’d expect some serious “wow” and premium materials, but the Eclipse fails to deliver any of this.  As the cellular world moves at an even more rapid pace Sanyo is increasingly falling further behind.

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