Once upon a time, Sanyo was one of the front-runners in mobile technology development. They introduced a number of firsts into the industry initially, but have since released mostly economy handsets.
The Incognito is a departure from their usual line-up, in that it is definitely a mid-range phone as opposed to an economy one. It is difficult to place the phone in one particular category because of the mishmash of features it has; therefore the only factor is the one of price.
Design (4 out of 5)
The design of the Sanyo Incognito is nothing if not highly unusual. It has a strange combination of features, and its appearance is equally strange as well. It is an old-style flip phone with a second screen and a full QWERTY keyboard on the inside, similar to the Nokia Communicator series of old.
From the front, the Incognito is a relatively unassuming device. It has a small screen measuring 1.1 inches. It displays basic information, like notifications and the battery status. The screen is sunken to the level of the touchscreen keypad, rendering the front completely smooth. There is a deep silver bevel surrounding the front, which somehow manages to make the phone look smaller than it actually is.
The touchscreen can be turned on and off through the use of a slider button on the left edge of the device. The right edge has a microUSB port, a microSD expansion card slot, a button that turns on the loudspeaker during calls and the volume rocker switch. The top edge has a 2.5 mm audio jack, which is somewhat disappointing consider the handset has more universal ports otherwise. The back panel just has the camera lens and nothing else.
When opened, the phone has a fully-fledged QWERTY keyboard laid out in 4 lines. The keys are made of hard plastic and are well spaced out, making it easy to type. The inner display is 2.6 inches and offers a resolution of 320 by 240 pixels.
On the whole, the design does not offer too much in terms of innovation. The form of the Sanyo Incognito is pretty sturdy, although the shiny surface is a fingerprint magnet. The hinge mechanism is solid, and should stand up to sustained usage.
User Interface (4 out of 5)
The interface on the Sanyo Incognito is seamless and exceedingly easy to use. The main menu is in landscape mode because of the screen orientation, which makes the icon grid easier to view. The homescreen has a ribbon of icons alongside the bottom edge, which is reminiscent of other more high-end models. If the user stops for long enough on an icon whilst browsing, the relevant menu will appear. The menu usually contains the most common functions associated with the particular application, like the Messaging one would have communication options. The ribbon can also be customized, which is a nice touch. If left for a few minutes, the ribbon becomes transparent and practically disappears.
It has proven difficult to use the touchscreen keypad for the Incognito effectively, because of the limited spacing around the keys. There is haptic feedback to indicate that the command has gone through, but that does not halt the rather excessive mistrials when dialling. A similar problem is faced when using the directional pad on the inner keyboard. The finger tends to slip and slide, making navigation really quite tedious.
On the whole, barring the touchscreen input and the directional pad on the QWERTY keyboard, the user interface of the Sanyo Incognito is irreproachable.
Features (3 out of 5)
The messaging application on the Sanyo Incognito displays messages in the form of threads, which is a surprising and very welcome feature on the device. Threaded conversations are usually spotted on high-end devices, and the Incognito falls squarely in the mid-range bracket.
The device has built-in support for most commonly used social networking platforms, like Facebook and MySpace. Additionally, a Google tab can be added to the ribbon on the homescreen. The Google tab will then display a number of Google services, like Maps for easy accessibility.
The camera application is lack-lustre at best. Not much can be expected from a camera lens with a resolution of 2 megapixels, and therefore the Incognito raises no false hopes in that respect. The application too is ordinary, with very few settings that impact the quality of the photographs positively. On the whole, the camera is good for very little. Additionally, taking pictures is an awkward undertaking, since the camera can only be used when the flip is open. Since the camera lens is on the back panel, aiming can be quite tedious.
The email application is sufficiently equipped, as it is able to handle most types of email with aplomb. It supports POP instead of IMAP, which is a tad disappointing but not really an issue.
Performance (4 out of 5)
The performance of the Sanyo Incognito overall is fairly good. There is absolutely no lag when moving from menu to menu, or when loading any of the applications. The graphics execute smoothly as well. Mid-range phones are usually frustrating devices, as they tend to have better features which require a powerful processor, but the processor is not quite up to the mark. Thankfully this is not the case with the Incognito.
The call quality is pretty good on the Incognito, as each side can hear the conversation without disturbance. There were reports of a slight buzz, but those instances were few and far between. The calls managed to stay on the network steadily as well, therefore the incidence of dropped calls was significantly low.
The only flaw with performance on the Sanyo Incognito is the disappointing speaker. The volume is quite low, even when cranked up to the maximum possible limit. Additionally, there is a marked interference regardless of the volume, making using the loudspeaker very uncomfortable indeed. The experience is slightly better when playing music, but the headphones provided a much better output altogether.
The Verdict (4 out of 5)
The Sanyo Incognito is an unusual phone, in that it has some excellent features like the user interface and some of the Internet services that are built right into the system. It has an excellent performance record, and that makes it a pleasure to use.
The design was slightly unappealing, since the flip QWERTY style is decidedly old-fashioned and ends up making the handset quite thick. The camera shouldn’t be considered as a factor on this phone under any circumstances, as the quality was worse than the VGA cameras of old.
The Incognito is a mid-range handset with a few smartphone features. No doubt, the attractive price tag will draw in clientele, and with good reason too. It is not a phone to be sneezed at, and it would make a good stepping stone before investing in a really high-end smartphone.