If Sony hadn’t already used the appellation, the Sanyo SCP-2700 could easily be called “My First Cellphone.” For just $30 (after the usual discounts and rebates), your pre-teen or tween gets a barebones, but stylish candybar phone with a full QWERTY keyboard and all the non-verbal communications options necessary – but little else. Subtly curvy, it feels a little cheap to our adult hands, but the 2700 – especially the flowery Impulsive Pink version – is perfect for a cellphone neophyte who might not know what they’re missing.
Features and Design
While the 2700’s design and simplified QWERTY form factor will appeal to your young daughter hoping to both emulate her executive parents and tickle her fashion sense, the phone is more notable for what she doesn’t get than for what she will.
For instance, it doesn’t have a music player. It has a 1.3 MP camera, but doesn’t record video. It doesn’t have a microSD card slot. And it’s not EV-DO. Oddly, it does include Sprint GPS navigation, hardly necessary for those too young to drive. Other than the music player, however, it’s doubtful a child will notice these missing amenities or care about its GPS capabilities.
Imagine a Fisher-Price interpretation of a BlackBerry and you’d get the slab-style 2700 with its 2.2-inch LCD screen, full QWERTY keyboard and a simple navigation array and control keys located between the two. At 3.4 ounces, it’s light as a bundle of feathers. But when combined with the unit’s smooth, but cheaply rounded plastic enclosure, this light weight makes the 2700 feel as if it actually was a toy – not a plus in our book.
On the flip side, the QWERTY keypad’s tiny keys are closely bunched, but humped to help separate one from the other. Our slim adult fingers made few typing errors, though we suspect a child’s smaller fingers/fingernails will be able to tap far faster and furiously than we.
Unfortunately, you’ll have to memorize where the number and punctuation keys are. The number icons on the pink version we tested are pink-on-gray (as opposed to the gray-on-pink alpha character icons) and, along with the tiny gray-on-pink punctuation marks above the alpha characters, are impossible to read in anything but bright ambient lighting conditions. (The numbers and punctuation on the Deep Blue version may be easier to discern.)
Ports & Connectors
There are only two – the 2.5mm stereo jack on the right spine and the microUSB jack on the left. As noted, there is no microSD slot.
While volume was decent while testing the phone in New York City, and sound surprisingly good for such an inexpensive phone, we experienced a near unacceptable amount of dropout and network warble. Only by standing still could the defects be minimized, and a conversation carried on without requests for repeated comments.
As noted, the number keys are difficult to read, so you’ll be using your contact list quite a bit. You can store up to seven phone numbers for each entry, which may be overkill for kids, and three email addresses for each contact.
Ringtones aren’t loud enough to be heard, even in normal ambient noise environments, unless the phone’s in a breast pocket. There’s no separate vibration alert, but the phone does lightly vibrate with the musical ringtones.
Included on the bottom right of the keyboard is an emoticon key, which produces a menu of 16 emotional faces. You can use these emoticons only in text messages, however, and even then your recipient won’t always see them. Some phones, such as an iPhone and the Sprint Palm Treo Pro we sent SMS messages to actually translate the graphic into their corresponding sideways punctuation representation (i.e. <:\> ).
You can send texts to multiple destinations, but you don’t get a threaded conversation, just the last message.
The 2700 is equipped with a WAP 2.0 browser, which is akin to equipping a lawnmower with a jet engine. Since the 2700 is only connecting at 1xRTT speeds, websites not optimized for mobile platforms load at a glacial pace, at least 20 seconds, usually more, especially if the site in question is graphics heavy. A remedial WAP browser would have been more appropriate.
Sites optimized for mobile usage such as CNN, The New York Times and ESPN load much faster, usually in around 7-10 seconds, half the time of most EV-DO phones.
Fortunately, the relatively slow pace of 1xRTT doesn’t hinder texting or emailing. Even picture emails sliced through Sprint’s ethersphere with alacrity.
There is a direct camera access/shutter key on the left spine, making it easy to quickly snap candid pictures.
Photos taken with the 1.3 MP camera are surprisingly large, bright and naturally colorful, but not as crisp as they could be. Edges and details are often fuzzy, as if the camera were trying to interpolate the image instead of rendering it in a native resolution.
As with all such cell cameras, the brighter the ambient light, the better the results. Indoor shots retain a degree of clarity not usually found in such inexpensive imagers, but lack brightness and contrast.
Sanyo rates the 2700 at 4.8 hours of continuous talk time, but in our unscientific tests we usually surpassed that, achieving a top time of 5.5 hours. Sprint does not release rated standby times.
Considering the economy, an inexpensive barebones phone that will help keep your kids happy and your wallet light has to be considered. But even for the price, you can do better – Sprint offers other QWERTY phones with EV-DO and video for free, such as the Samsung Rant. The deciding factor, especially if you’re considering the Impulsive Pink version, may simply be how impressed your little girl will be by the 2700’s dainty flowery aesthetic. Whether that’s an actual selling point is your call, though.
- Inexpensive QWERTY messaging phone
- Easy-to-read screen
- Dedicated emoticon menu button
- Hard to see number key and punctuation icons
- No threaded messaging
- Slow Web connections
- No music player