4G

Pantech Breakout: Get 4G LTE without breaking your bank

It may not be sexy, but Jack Wallen believes the Pantech Breakout is a nice, inexpensive way to experience Verizon's 4G LTE network.

Purchasing a smartphone in the 4G LTE arena isn't exactly cheap. In fact, if you want to play with the big boys, you better be ready to pony up nearly $300.00 (even with a contract), which is out of reach for many users.

But then there's the Pantech Breakout. With this phone, you get on the 4G bandwagon for a fraction of the cost  -- that is, $99.99 and a two-year contract with Verizon. However, does the low price equate to a cheap product? Let's take a closer look at the Breakout and find out.

Specs

  • Weight: 4.87 oz.
  • Dimensions: 5" x 2.54" x 0.47
  • Battery: Talk: 5.8 hours max.; Standby: 300 hours max.; 1500 mAh Li-ion
  • Display: Type: LCD (Color TFT/TFD); Resolution: 480 x 800 pixels 4"   diagonal
  • Processor: 1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S2 MSM8655
  • Memory: 234 MB internal storage; 8 GB card included

If you're surprised by the specs, I don't blame you. So far, all of the 4G phones have shipped with 4.3" screens, so the Breakout helps to lower cost by shipping with a smaller 4" screen. But the size is (mostly) not noticeable. And even though the processor is outpaced by other 4G offerings (for example, the RAZR ships with a dual-core processor), the device feels snappy running Android 2.3. It certainly outpaces any 3G-only handset (regardless of power).

Hardware

There's very little sexy about the Breakout. It's not super slim, super light, or super stealthy -- but it is super functional. Some users may not like the placement of the buttons and ports, but I think Pantech has done a great job with placement. Here's how it lays out:

  • Left side: Volume and voice control
  • Right side: Power button, camera button, and micro USB port

What I like about this layout is that it allows the phone to be used completely with one hand. No matter which hand the device is in, you can access all buttons for all actions with that single hand.

The display is also quite nice. It's the same type as the Thunderbolt (WVGA), with only a slightly lesser resolution (due to the size).

On the down side, the case sort of has a cheapish feel. It's obviously not in the same class as the Bionic or the RAZR, but it's not at the bottom of the barrel either. Considering the price range, this handset is fairly solid and the outer casing has enough of a pebbled feel to keep the phone from slipping out of your palm or off a counter.

Software

As I mentioned earlier, the Breakout ships with Android 2.3. It's not stock, so it has a Pantech overlay. It's not quite as sprightly as a straight up Android desktop, but it works well. And, as usual, you can add a different launcher (such as ADL or GO Launcher EX) to get away from the modified desktop. But for those who don't care to replace stock UI, fear not ... the interface works quite well with the hardware. You will experience a speedy, reliable Android experience.

One of the nice "upgrades" to the stock UI is the addition of three icons on the lock screen (see Figure A) -- phone, messaging, and email -- which can be dragged to the center of the lock screen to immediately jump to that application. Figure A

Tap and drag one of the icons on the bottom to the light blue circle in the center of the screen to jump to that app.

General conclusion

The Pantech Breakout may be one of those phones that mobile snobs look down upon, but truth be told, it's a great bargain for anyone wanting to break into the fast world of 4G. And while a Bionic or a RAZR would be my first choice for 4G phones, I wouldn't sneeze at the Breakout. It's a worthy contender for your hard earned, mobile dollars.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

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