This goes without saying, but the Pantech Pocket is not your typical smartphone. The display's 4:3 aspect ratio is what gives that away. It's a square-ish device with a quirky look to it. Pantech didn't choose this design blindly, though. No, it was intentionally given this design in order to appeal to mobile movie watchers and e-book fanatics. Now, you may be wondering, 'If a person is big on multimedia, why would they not just go with something like the Galaxy S II or the iPhone 4S? Is the square design really supposed to draw people away from those power-house devices?' The answer is No. Pantech made it clear that the Pocket is not designed to compete with high-end devices on the market. Rather, it is for those who are budget-conscious but still want a phone that performs well and offers fun features. The Pocket certainly has a great price and the idea of having a display specifically made for watching movies and reading books sounds appealing. Does it work?
Honestly, I'm not too sure yet. I've had the device for about a day and I'm cautiously optimistic about it. Content actually does look better on that oddly-shaped display. Still, it's hard to get over the design. Only time will tell if I can recommend it to someone. In the meantime, here are some of my first impressions of the Pantech Pocket.
- Yeah, the design is unique. Coming in at 4.3-inches by 3-inches, it basically is a square phone. That being said, if you don't mind walking around with an oddly-shaped device, then there's nothing to worry about. The 4-inch display is clear and bright and the 600x800 resolution gives it a decent pixel density. Text is not pixelated much at all.
- Like I said, the 4:3 aspect ratio of the Pocket's display was chosen to make watching movies, reading books, playing games, and using apps more enjoyable. Does it? Actually, yeah, it does. As someone pointed out after watching our unboxing video, it's almost like a miniature tablet. The widescreen format makes the display look larger than it is when viewing apps and browsing the web. It also means that the keyboard is incredibly spacious. The typing experience has been great so far.
- I wish the hardware design was more attractive. I can understand the form factor, but it would look so much better without the textured finish. Perhaps a glossy finish or corners that weren't so rounded would add to its appeal. Pantech seems to be fond of using textured backs and it's typically done in a subtle way but I think this one is over-the-top.
- I always enjoy Pantech's UI. The Pocket ships with Android 2.3, but with several custom elements added by Pantech. Some may say that Pantech's UI is too childish or cartoony, but considering that they're probably trying to appeal to teenagers anyway, I'd say it's been done perfectly. I enjoy the colors and shapes, and the several design options for each Pantech widget are nice to have.
- There are a lot of pre-installed AT&T apps, but thankfully, you can uninstall them easily. The phone also comes with a converter app, Document Viewer, Featured Apps, Movies, PC Suite Connector, an RSS reader, Sketch Pad, and Stocks in addition to the previously mentioned AT&T apps and Google apps.
- The Pocket's 5-megapixel camera has not offered terrific photos thus far, but that's to be expected from a device of this caliber. I've uploaded an HD video sample using the Pocket's camcorder and it was pretty much atrocious, both in audio and video quality. Again though, it met my expectations for a budget device.
- Pantech says that the unique form factor allows them to fit a larger battery in the Pocket. Though the PR notes and other sites list the battery at 1500 mAh, the unit I have shipped with a 1680 mAh battery. This is definitely a good-sized battery, though we've seen larger. I haven't been able to run any tests yet, but I'm anxious to see what kind of battery life I get out of the Pocket considering it is an HSPA+ device.
- Speaking of HSPA+, the Pocket uses a microSIM so if you're planning on buying this device without a contract, make sure you have one. I was not aware that it takes a microSIM and since I don't have one, I haven't been able to test out AT&T's HSPA+ network using the Pocket so I don't have any impressions of that just yet. We're working on getting me a microSIM so hopefully I'll have that for the full review.
So those are my first impressions of the Pantech Pocket. So far, I like the device and performance seems to be good, but I'm not certain it's good enough to distract me from the unattractive design and form factor. Check back in to PhoneDog.com for the full review or watch my unboxing video!