Sanyo Zio

The Sanyo Zio is a new entry-level Android phone (we're reviewing the Sprint version) and one of the first devices to have the new Sprint ID system for customization.  I'm a huge proponent of replacing feature-phones with Android devices, and was pretty curious about what Sprint ID could bring to Android, so I was happy to have a chance to review the Zio.  Hit the break to see how it measures up.

Make no bones about it -- the Zio is as entry level as entry level can be.  That doesn't mean the build quality or construction material has to be poor, though.  The Zio looks well designed, looking like, and feeling in the hand like a slightly smaller Samsung Captivate.  The ports and external microSD card slot are all covered by tight-fitting doors; they're are hard to open but should certainly keep dirt and pocket lint out of the sensitive areas.

Sanyo Zio microSD card slot  microSD card slot -- open

headset, usb connector doors  usb connector, heatset jack -- open

The Zio has the four standard buttons, done up capacitive style, and a non-lighted trackball for navigating through the OS.  Also, two physical buttons are in place, which serve as power buttons and action buttons for the dialer -- the green button opens it anywhere in the OS, and the red button hangs up a call.  There's an indicator LED (yay!) and a light sensor on the face of the phone, and both work just as intended. Around back, you start to run into trouble.  The backplate is a very flimsy piece of thin plastic, is impossible to remove without tools, and needs three hands to replace properly.  It's a good thing you don't have to remove it very often.

the buttons  LED indicator

opened  Speaker

camera

The camera checks in at 3.2 megapixels.  There's no flash, but the Zio does have autofocus, so barcode scanners can be used.  The full specs of the device -- Qualcomm MSM7627 CPU clocked at 600 MHz, 512 MB of RAM, unadvertised ROM (but seems to be 512 with 256 available to the user), A-GPS, Bluetooth 2.0 +EDR, 802.11 b/g wireless, and a 3.5 inch capacitive touchscreen.  Want to see this hardware in action?  Of course you do.

 

YouTube link for mobile viewing

Yes, it is really as unresponsive (at times) as it seems.  Might I have a bad unit, or could it just be the way I'm using the phone?  It certainly could be, but the few people I've talked to who are using a Zio are seeing the same thing.  Hopefully this is a software issue and not a hardware fault, because the Zio is frustrating to use as-is.  And yes, I tried to cheat by leaving the battery cover partially opened (around the 44 second mark) so that the SD card cover was easier to open.  It didn't work.

The homescreens

If there's a saving grace about the Zio, it's the software.  You have your typical carrier bloat -- in this case Sprint NFL, Nascar, Sprint TV, and the Sprint Zone -- and the addition of Sprint ID.  Everything else seems to have been left as is, except the Android 2.1 mail client has been enhanced to work better with EAS.  Nobody is complaining about that.  You have five homescreens, and what can be dropped on them is dependent of the IDs you have installed.

About phone  Sprint ID

Sprint ID is either the best thing that has happened to Android, or the worst -- I haven't decided just yet.  It's great that you have the choice of a basically stock Android experience, but the currently provided IDs you can download and install seem lacking.  They do make for an interesting way to discover new apps, and hopefully the requirements involved to create officially supported Sprint ID packs is friendly for independent developers.  The whole concept is interesting and new, so we'll all have to wait and see how it pans out.

No review is complete without some final impressions.  The shell and build quality of the Zio is pretty low-end.  This is offset somewhat by the graceful styling and design, which really does look good -- even with cheaper materials.  The internal hardware sounds like it should be quite fine for the target audience, but the issues with the touchscreen drop performance to a crawl.  As it stands, I wouldn't recommend this one to anyone, especially with other phones like the Optimus S available from Sprint in the same price range. 

 

Reader comments

Sanyo Zio review

14 Comments

Sprint ID gets a TON of hate on Android sites; for what? I don't know.

It beats the hell out of having to deal with Touchwiz, Sense, or any other skin. You're not required to download any ID's and the ID button is easily replace by using ADW, LP, or any other home screen replacement which is one of the first things you should do anyway. Otherwise it's a stock experience, and on the newer ID phones (Optimus S specifically) the Sprint bloat is kept to a absolute minimum (none of that Sprint footbal, nascar crap). I have a EVO and wish that it launched with Sprint ID like it is on the Optimus S.

Besides that, since Sprint ID is basically just a app that auto downloads apps and arranges your homescreen with widgets, it'll probably be 10x easier to update the software. There's no heavy framework modifications or services.

Oh, and about the Zio, it sucks. The CPU is just too weak to carry the WVGA resolution. I doubt that any software update will help it.

I dont understand the big deal, can you just not use the sprint IDs? So why all the hate just dont use it if you dont like it at least there is a choice.

Okay, that launcher is the Sprint ID launcher? I was under the impression it was a Froyo thing. The Zio does launch with Eclair, right?

Hey, does anyone know where I can get that nice music note wallpaper from the first picture? :D

i like the whole UI and feel that it has to it.
it is a good intro to android fone i think. its purty basic in its functionality.
like the body and style of it! love th look and feel!
downside is tht the screen scratches super easy! so watchout and get yrself a zagg shield for like 15bucks

camera works good, im proper lighting that is...
since it has no flash, it totally depends on external light source.
which means.. no night pictures!
oh and th shutter speed was inconveniently slow! (i get th feel tht most th androids are like tht... by th time you press th button, to th time it actually takes th pic the shot is waisted!)

like that it has the sd card on th side of th case, rather than under the backplate or even worse, under the battery! having it oon th side makes it soo much more the easier to swap out cards in a flash! and without having to powerdown th fone either!

will hafta say tho that it has no proximity sensor. which means that if you unlock th screen for whatever reason(look up a contact, send a txt ect)while in a fone call, you can be pressing buttons, opening menus and contacts with your face!

kinda disappointed tht it ships with android 2.1 and has not yet come out with an 2.2 upgrade yet!
which leaves to say, this is th first droid tht sanyo has put out. i was hoping that they did a good job and cleaned up all th glitches in th system first. but i ran into quite a number of them!

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