Sanyo Katana LX Review

Introduction and Design

The newly-released Katana LX is the successor to the Katana II and latest addition to Sanyo’s Katana line. It features a new, narrower, design with amirrored finish and hidden OLED outer display. Though it is set to replace the Katana II, the LX is thicker and downgrades the screen from QVGA to 128x160. The Katana and Katana II were in an awkward market segment; it had many entry level features such as a VGA camera and 1x data, but some high end specs such as its QVGA display and thin design. We see the LX serving to bring together Sanyo’s entry-level 3200 and Katana II, and indeed the LX’s model number is SCP-3800, whereas the Katana II was the SCP-6650. If this is the case, and Sanyo drops the price to reflect this, then the Katana LX should be an exceptional entry-level phone with a stylish, compact design.

Included in the box you will find:

  • Lithium-Ion battery
  • AC charger
  • Users manual


The first thing you notice about the Katana LX is its mirrored finish. It comes in three colors: Liquid Graphite, Pacific Blue and Elegant Pink and each offers a highly-reflective front. This finish, of course, makes it a fingerprint magnet and we have a feeling this isn’t the phone for our OCD readers. When compared to the first two Katanas the LX is narrower and thicker, which leads to a better in-hand feel but is bulkier in the pocket.

You can compare the Sanyo Katana LX to many other phones, using PhoneArena'sVisual Size Compare tool.

When closed, the LX is elegantly understated, not usually a strength of Sanyo, with the VGA camera and mesh-covered speaker the only visible features. The front is divided into two pieces; the main slab runs to the top of the phone, meeting the camera housing with concave lines that form the elliptical speaker hole below the camera. At standby the OLED display is hidden in the belly of the closed clamshell. The display comes to life in monochromatic blue when a call/text/event comes in, and can also be triggered by pressing a side button. It is very easy to read even in the most direct sunlight, but the mirrored finish results in a reflection that appear to give the text a blue shadow. The steeper the angle you view the display at the more apparent the shadow becomes.

The rest of the outside is even plainer than the front. The left side houses a microUSB charging port at the top, the volume rocker in the middle and a camera button below, while the right side simply has a 2.5mm headset jack. The back is nearly nondescript, with only the battery door release button breaking up the monotony.

Opening the Katana LX the user will hear that familiar Sanyo click, reassuring to some and despised by others. The open phone is not so understated, unfortunately, and the familiar hard, plastic keys are staring at you in two-tone fashion. The small display looks even smaller with so much open space around it. The inside housing is black for the graphite and blue versions, and pink on the pink variant.

The keypad is on the bottom of the flip. The circular directional pad has a hard and soft key ringing it on each side; to the left is a camera key and to the right is Back, each below the soft key. These four keys are very thin, making them harder to press. Below that cluster are the Talk, Speaker and End keys from left to right. On the graphite and blue versions these keys are silver, whereas the 12 key dialpad below are black and blue, respectively. On the pink LX the color scheme is flipped, with light pink for the top keys and silver for the dialpad. Each key is individual and made of hard plastic, resulting in a slippery feel that makes one handed typing harder than it should be. Sanyo has employed this keypad style for years, and while they are finally starting to break with their old design habits this is one they are unfortunately still holding on to. Further adding to our dislike is the ugly green backlight, as opposed to a more modern white or blue.

The Katana LX is very plain in design, but don’t mistake plain as criticism. To the contrary, we really like the minimalist design of the LX and our only complaint is the keypad and cheap materials that Sanyo continues to use. The plastic is hard and slippery, and our battery door scratched almost immediately even though we hadn’t exposed it to anything coarse. The overall build quality is quite good, however, and we don’t have any concerns about the device holding up over everyday use.

Sanyo Katana LX Video Review:

Sanyo Katana LX 360 Degrees View

Software and User Interface:

The Katana LX is similar in function to the Katana II. The main menu is broken into nine subcategories: (Call) History, Messaging, Tools, Web, Missed Alerts, Contacts, Pictures, My Content and Settings. It is laid out as a grid by default, but can be changed to a list view. In general the layout is good, with the exception of the bloated Settings menu. In this menu there are 21 further subcategories, many of which lead to an even deeper rabbit hole. It’s a simple matter or organization, and several of these subcategories (such as Browser, Data and Wireless Backup) could be grouped together, others (such as Contacts) would probably be better filed under a different main sub-folder and some (like Set Time/Date, which cannot be accessed when in digital coverage, meaning almost ever) could be done away with altogether. Unfortunately the end result can be an overwhelming experience, especially since this phone is targeted at the casual end-user and not the tech-savvy crowd.

As with all Sprint dumbphones, the LX runs Java applications allowing the user to download both free and paid applications. The VGA camera performs as you would expect a VGA camera to perform, that is to say its fine for snapping pictures to send through picture mail or post to your Facebook profile, but under any challenging lighting conditions it’s pretty much unusable.

Since the LX only has 1x data you will not find multimedia applications such as SprintTV and Music Store, but it does support GPS via Sprint Navigation. Web browsing is handled by Access’s NetFront browser. It is a simple WAP browser, and while it can render HTML pages, they are not optimized for the small screen and therefore are cumbersome to view. The LX has Bluetooth 2.0, with support for the HSP, HFP, DUN, OPP (vCard only) and PBA profiles.

The phonebook will hold up to 300 separate entries, with a total of 500 numbers, 600 emails and 300 web addresses. One thing we have always liked about Sanyo phones was the ability to lock the phonebook, which served as a great parental control feature. This would allow a parent to restrict not only who their kids could call, but would also reject incoming calls from numbers not in the phonebook. Unfortunately this feature looks to have disappeared with the Katana LX, an unfortunate omission. One thing we were very pleased to see on the LX was VoiceSignal’s voice dialing software. Until now Sanyo had only included this on high end models, hopefully this will mark a change in this policy.


Sanyo’s calling card has long been excellent reception, and the LX doesn’t disappoint. We were able to make, receive and hold calls even in low signal areas, and callers reported that we sounded loud and natural. On our end callers were plenty loud, and with the volume all the way up even too loud. The speakerphone is equally good, another signature of Sanyo over the years. The battery is rated at a more than respectable 4.8 hours (288 minutes,) but in our test we were actually able to achieve 346 minutes, or 5.76 hours.


We have mixed feelings about the Katana LX, mostly hinging on where it sits in tries to fit into the market. By entry level phone standards it is very good; the battery life is excellent, the design is compact and stylish and there are a few different color options. However, it is currently priced at $49.99 on contract, which puts it head-to-head with devices such as the text-friendly LG Rumor and the more capable Samsung M520, both of which we’d have a hard time passing up for the LX. We have a feeling that the LX will drop in price once the Sanyo 3200 is discontinued, which will make it an excellent value for what it offers.


  • Outstanding battery life
  • Excellent reception
  • Stylish design


  • Poor keypad
  • Small display
  • Overpriced

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User Rating:

5 Reviews

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