Well, it seems that manufactures are finally getting the picture and are starting to step up their game in the messaging phone department. The Pantech Laser is just one example of this. Not only is it the thinnest full-sliding keyboard phone ever offered on AT&T (it is only .4 inches thick), but it also features a 3.1-inch AMOLED display as well as a 3 megapixel camera.
I was very excited when the box from Pantech arrived at my door containing the Laser and I've been enjoying my time with the device ever since. I have to say that my first impressions are very solid, but not as good as I thought they would be. The device is definitely a great addition to the messaging phone market, but it slightly falls short of my expectations. Here are a few reasons why along with some things I've noticed in the few days that I've had the phone:
- The touchscreen is not capacitive. I was told that it has a capacitive touchscreen and Pantech's page for the Laser even says that it is a capacitive touchscreen, but it's not. It is a resistive touchscreen. This can be a good thing as well as a bad thing. It's a good thing because when I used the phone under the impression that it had a capacitive touchscreen, my first impression was that it was very unresponsive and a disappointment overall. Now that I know it's a resistive touchscreen, I know how to use it and, therefore, it is much more responsive. The bad side is that, yes, it is a resistive touchscreen. Not the best, but I think we're used to it by now.
- I'm happy that the phone is equipped with a 3 MP camera, but I wish that it also had an autofocus and/or a flash. Without those two things, picture quality isn't that great. It's not much of an improvement over a 2 MP camera. So, while I'm glad it has the 3 megapixels, I'm still disappointed with picture quality. So far.
- I'm not too terribly impressed by the AMOLED display, but it's still a great display. Perhaps I'm being unfair to the Laser by comparing its AMOLED display to the AMOLED display on the Samsung Craft (another terrific messaging phone), but it's just not as vibrant and clear as I expected it to be. Again, just because it's not what I expected, doesn't mean it's not great. It's still a beautiful display and looks better than the displays on most basic messaging phones. With a resolution of 480 x 800, there's really not much to complain about.
- I'm getting used to the keyboard. The first time I used it, I wasn't extremely happy with the performance, but the more I use it, the more I like it. I have a feeling that by the time a week has gone by, this will be one of my favorite keyboards. The keys are slightly raised and have a nice, rubbery texture, though there is an odd gap in the middle of the keyboard. That's the part I'm learning to get used to.
- The UI is fresh, clean, fun, and easy to use. There are a few design features that I've never seen before and few that are old tricks that have been revamped in a stylish way. Imagine a mix between Samsung's TouchWiz UI and LG's standard UI on their latest messaging phones (ex. LG Encore and Sentio). It has widgets, shortcuts, expanding screens, new clocks, and it all works together very nicely.
- Battery life so far has been great. The Laser ships with a 1000 mAh battery. By the numbers I can hypothesize that it won't be the greatest, but it will definitely be in the top percentage of performers. I turned the phone on for the first time on Thursday, it is now Monday, and I'm being told to charge the battery. Not bad. Not bad at all.
- No 3.5 mm headphone jack. Or 2.5 mm. Or proprietary, for that matter. Yes, the phone is so thin that the only port Pantech managed to slide in it was the microUSB charging port. There is microSD card slot, but that is situated underneath the battery cover.
So this may be a little more detailed first look that we usually do, but I have a couple more days with it and there was a little more hype around this phone so I wanted to give it the time that it deserves. So far, I'm satisfied with it, even if it doesn't completely live up to my expectations. Stay tuned to Phonedog for the full review!