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Hands on with the “not Kyocera” Sanyo Zio

It’s important when reviewing a phone that I keep in mind that everyone, for whatever reason, doesn’t want the “best” device. Could be financial, could be size, weight, complexity, anything. So when I review a device that is not billed as a “Killer” of some kind, it’s nice to be able to sit back and enjoy the phone for what it is. Such was my experience with the Sanyo Zio with SprintID.

My title may be difficult to understand. When I first saw this device at CTIA, it was the Kyocera Zio. Kyocera has put a lot of money into advertising this phone at CTIA, including their own Andy  mascot and a ton of swag with their name on it. So, understandable, I was a little lost when the Sanyo Zio showed up, and was the exact same phone. My surprise was short lived, as I was told they are the same company now. The Zio is one of the first phones to come to Sprint bearing the new SprintID. The phone is complicated to describe The curvy design and extremely low weight of the phone makes it easy to ignore that the phone is actually a bit thicker than a Nexus One. Though the screen is noticeably smaller than the Nexus, I found it hard to say it was harder to use, most likely due to the convex screen. Oh, and did I mention it’s light? As in, lighter than most phones demo models. The thickness of the device actually lends to your ability to find the phone, as with it’s weight it truly disappears in the pocket. The trackball is nice. I REALLY like trackballs, and wish more of these newer phones maintained the trackball instead of these optical pads. It’s sunk into the front, making it so you can set the device on it’s front without any problems. All in all, the phone has a decent design. As per usual, it’s the software that get’s em.

Do you see this screenshot to the left? Looks a lot like 2.2 doesn’t it? Yeah, it’s not. The Zio is running 2.1 with a modified launcher to support having the SprintID shoved in your face. Swiping around the phone was mostly smooth, though there were a few areas of lag in the launcher. Apps installed and ran fast and gave no real issues, and with the exception of some network issues, SprintID’s install and run quickly as well. I had the fortunate accident to also have an Epic 4G with me during this review, and I noticed that for whatever reason the Zio doesn’t seem to get the same signal strength the Epic does in 3G worlds, and is noticeably slower about switching between networks. The phone’s audio quality is on par with the current market, and the Bluetooth and Wifi both performed well.

At $100 on a new contract or upgrade, the Zio is appropriately priced. It handled everything I threw at it and seems to run very smoothly. It’s perfect for small hands or those who are not interested in the “best of the best” in the mobile world. Grab yours at Sprint.com or in any of their stores and retail partners.