The Sanyo SCP4500 was released in the Fall of 2000. This is a review of this dual mode 1900 CDMA/AMPS model that is sold for use on the Telus Mobility network in Canada and the Sprint PCS network in the US. Tested was version 3.0026CN; H:0100; PRL 00010 (Telus Mobility). This review includes comparisons between this model and comments made on my Sanyo SCP4000 review.
Dimensions and Exterior Design
Like the Sanyo SCP4000, the first thing I liked about this phone is the size. Although is is slightly larger than the SCP4000, the phone was easy to hold and featured a couple of improvements over the SCP4000 and other phones I have reviewed recently. One of the most noted features was the volume control on the side of the phone, making it relatively to change the volume while in the middle of a conversation. This is one of my biggest beefs with the 51xx and 61xx Nokia phones as you must remove the phone from your ear and change the volume on the front of the phone. The phone's overall dimensions are 15.3 x 4.2 x 2.5 cm (6.0 x 1.7 x 1.1").
The SCP4500 has a retractable antenna, an indication LED on the top of the phone, and the 'Clearglo' blue/cyan backlighting on the display screen. Like the SCP4000, menu navigation is controlled by a large central scrolling key. Besides the standard numeric keys, four keys surround the scrolling key (OK, Clr, Talk, End) and a small power button is located on the bottom left of the phone. A bonus to this model over the SCP4000 is the addition of a Speakerphone option. The speakerphone is activated by toggling a new botton located just below the display. The speaker is located in the back of the phone.
The phone fits very comfortably in your hand and the handset weighs in at 142 grams. Navigation through the menu options using the scrolling key and dialing numbers was relatively easy. The power button is recessed and requires a finger tip to turn the phone on or off. All the keys (except the scrolling key) were easy to hit and are coated with a gripping material that prevents slippage.
Being a dual mode phone, the Sanyo SCP4500 supports both 1900 MHz CDMA and 800 MHz AMPS. For Telus Mobility users', this phone will work in digital mode in most major Canadian cities and where digital services are not yet available the phone will roam in analog mode.
Availability and Price
This handset is available in Canada at Telus Mobility/Clearnet stores, electronics stores (e.g., Future Shop), drug stores (e.g., London Drugs), stationary stores (e.g., Staples) and cell phone stores. The selling price is $130, which may include an in-store bonus gift or rebate (varies between retailers, so shop around).
All menu options are controlled via the central scrolling key. Moving the scrolling key up or down selects individual menu options. Hitting the scroll key to the left gives your page and text (SMS) messages; hitting to the right puts you into your phone book. Below are some of the features of the SCP4500.
Like the SCP4000, I really like how the phone book is laid out. As with all phone books you enter a name and then the number of the person. But you can also associate a tag with that phone number, including Home, Work, Mobile (maybe it should be 'Cellular' for us North Americans), Pager, Data, Fax, or None. In addition you can also specify both that person's email and web page addresses. When you recall someone's name, the directory lists ALL the numbers plus the internet addresses associated with that name. This is a much nicer way of storing names and numbers than other phone models offer. You have have up to 300 phone number entries in the phone book.
Up to 30 of your phone entries can also have voice activated dailing associated with them. You record the name of the person and the phone will then dial the number for you. This is great for those people that like to use their phones in the car as you don't have to push keys and drive at the same time. The bonus is with the speakerphone option that will ask you 'who would you like to call?' and then you can talk through the speakerphone without your hands leaving the wheel of the car. When receiving a call that is amoung your list of 30 voices your phone will say 'incoming call from...'.
The SCP4500 will also let you record up to ten 30 second memos so you can list your groceries while driving to the grocery store.
Similar to the Calendar menu found on many Nokia's, the SCP4500 stores a simple calendar to look up dates and to associate activities that might happen on those dates. These activities include Events (e.g., meeting at 4pm), To do items, or Call Alarms (a reminder to place a call). All activities are limited to 16 characters, so don't plan to write too much. The SCP4500 is also equipped with the T9 Predictive Text Input. Essentially T9 guesses at the word you are writing and fills in the rest of it for you. Many users will likely find T9 somewhat annoying at first (I found it difficult to get used to on a Nokia 8890 when I had the chance to try it out), but don't worry as you can turn it off (switch to alphabetic) and play with it when you have some time to kill. You can also add entries to the T9 dictionary if you are using less common words.
Yes, this phone is 'dot com' ready and you can surf the web from $10/month on Telus Mobility/Clearnet's 'Surf' plan. The Clearglo screen made it a nice little web browser, but it is definitely no replacement for a real computer screen.
Call Logs and Ring Tones
The SCP4500 stores the last 10 outgoing, incoming, and missed calls. The timer logs also record home, roaming, web, and data/fax airtime separately. The handset also comes with five different tones, seven songs, plus a vibrate feature. These tones can also be set differently for CID, restricted, no CID, or Roaming calls.
A simple calculator similar to the ones offered on Nokia models (still no square root or log functions).
The SCP4000 featured the 'crab catch' game and the SCP4500 features both this game plus a new 'slot machine' game. One complaint I had with the SCP4000 crab catch game is that the backlight when out while you were playing. The SCP4500 now has an option to keep the light on, provided that you agree with the warning that your phone will incur high battery consumption (yet you get no warning message while using the wireless web feature).
Sound Quality and Control
I found the sound volume on this handset to be very good. Even in noisy environments the speaker was still easy to hear and there was very little distortion at the highest setting. As mentioned previously, volume is controlled from two buttons on the side of the phone, which is a much more comfortable method of changing the volume during a call.
The Speakerphone speaker is located in the back of the phone and I found it to be acceptable, but no replacement for traditional landline speakerphones. The volume is limited and this might be good for use in a car as a cheap alternative to a hands-free cellular phone, but this is about the scope I can see people using it. Also, since the speaker is located in the back of the phone, the unit should be turned over (which would cover the mic) or stood upright while in use. If you purchase a case for this phone ensure that the case has holes in the back to accommodate the speaker.
There's also a earpiece jack located just above the volume buttons on the side of the handset so that you could talk without holding the phone to your ear. Both earpiece and speakerphone features when combined with the voice-activating dialing make this a safer unit to use while driving, biking, or doing any other activity that doesn't allow you use your hands to dial numbers or hold the phone.
The ringing and alert tones are moderately loud, but not as loud as other handsets on the market. The maximum volume setting may present a problem if the phone usually sits in a noisy environment. The vibration feature is an alternative option to the phone ringing, but you cannot combine the vibrate and ring features (you can on the 61xx Nokia's).
The included lithium ion battery will get up to three hours talk time and up to seven days in digital mode and under ideal conditions. The included battery is also quite small (5.0 x 3.0 x 1.0 cm) and lightweight (same battery as the SCP4000). The included phone charger is also small (6.5 x 4.5 x 2.5 cm) and lightweight and even has a folding plug.
Other Concerns and Comments Power Up/Down Time
I found the SCP4500 had a very long power-up and power-down time. On average in a digital service area the phone I tested took between 15-20 seconds to find a digital signal once the power switch had been pressed. On shut down the phone took an average of 10 seconds to turn off. Compared to other models this is a relatively long time and most people watch their phones go through the power-up and power-down cycles. There's also a chime that plays during power-up and down cycles.
Unfortunately I was not able to test this phone in analog mode, however a user just outside Ottawa wrote me with their comments. Apparently the SCP4500 works quite well for outgoing calls in analog mode, even with no or just one signal bar. Incoming calls have a tendency to jump to voicemail in areas with less than two signal bars -- tell your callers to try a few times. When compared to the Nokia 6188 in the same area, the SCP4500 outperformed its analog performance. Thanks to BCB for the info.
Sanyo has made some nice improvements to the SCP4500, including adding a few new features like the speakerphone and the volume buttons on the side. Other accommodations like the multiple numbers and internet entries for one name in the phone book are also very nice. There are still some issues with this handset like the power-up and down times, the long menu listings, and the limitations of the speakerphone, but despite these limitations, I found this a great phone to use.
Field and Phone Test Modes
The SCP4500 has two different test menus. Hitting Display, OK, 0 will give the submenu options of Screen, Test Calls, Voice 13K (Markov 8K, 13K, Loopback 8K, 13K, EVRC), Errors, Clear Errors, Data Screen, and Toggle QNC. The Screen option gives network information and calls can still be made and received, although numbers may not be displayed over the network information. The second test mode screen is accessed by hitting Setup, OK, 0. This submenu gives the options of Testmode Enable, Qualcomm, PA, and AMPS test. The Testmode Enable places a new menu item on your phone that allows you to check the phone's status (includes Key Test, FL-ROM test, FCC test mode, AMPS adjust, Beep test, PCS adjust, Vibrator, LCD/LED test, CODEC test, ADC display, Charge options, Gaibu 11F test, and a Flash test). For Telus Mobility this code is 000000, for Sprint PCS this code is 040793, for older Telus Mobility/Clearnet PCS handsets this code is 183729. ##414255 NAM settings? ##2769737 IP settings (Thanks to C. Kuethe for these ## tips) ##964310 Somehow change your phone number? (Thanks to S. Molavi for this tip)