If you're looking for a 4G LTE smartphone that won't break the bank, the Pantech Breakout from Verizon may just fit the bill.
The Pantech is a good option for organizations looking to provide less expensive smartphones to non-executive level employees who still have a reasonable need for smartphone connectivity. IT staff, project managers, and even workers who often visit remote sites or who travel extensively can all benefit from the full set of Android features that the Pantech Breakout delivers.
- Weight: 4.8 oz
- Dimensions: 5" x 2.54" x 0.47"
- Battery: 1500 mAh Li-Ion
- Display: 4" LCD
- CPU: 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon
- OS: Android 2.3.3 (Gingerbread)
- Cameras: Front (VGA) and back-facing (5 megapixels)
The Pantech Breakout offers your basic fare for a smartphone, with a generous (and really vivid) 4" display. The screen is noticeably bigger than the display on my Droid 4, while not being so large that it seems like you're carrying a small tablet around. Everything is just up-sized a little bit from the Droid 2, and it really makes the icons pop.
Physically, the phone dimensions felt very good in my hand. It's thin, flat, and uniform in shape, with the usual assortment of buttons for volume, power, camera, and microphone. It also has a good weight — not as much like a tank as the Droid 2, but it isn't too light, either.
I didn't encounter lag or delays in response to touch input, scrolling in apps, or in other areas where Android phones are prone to issues. Performance was generally acceptable through the range of applications I might use in a given day.
The Pantech Breakout requires a 4G LTE SIM card, which goes under the battery. And the battery life was not impressive. Plan on charging this thing every day — more if you use it heavily.
One off thing I found was that the USB port has a plastic cover over it, kind of like the USB covers on the keyboard dock on the Transformer TF101. It keeps the shape of the case uniform and unbroken (and arguably keeps dust out of the USB port), but it was a pain to get my thumbnail into the small slot to pop the cover open in order to charge the phone. It also seems like this piece would be prone to eventually breaking off, leaving you with an odd-shaped dent in the device.
The back of the Pantech Breakout is ugly, rubberized plastic. It looks cheap. There's a brushed stainless steel disk around the 5.0 megapixel back-facing digital camera. The rear camera takes decent pictures, but it doesn't have a flash, so it's useless to even try taking a picture in low light conditions.
I used the 4G LTE tethering extensively during a Thanksgiving trip to New Jersey, but I never saw a 4G signal in the suburbs of Redbank, and I couldn't get a connection for tethering when I stayed overnight in the Jersey Shore hospital in Neptune. The phone had no trouble surfing, and my wife's Droid and my Droid 2 were fine — only tethering on the Pantech wouldn't work. I was surprised that a location in such close proximity to Manhattan would be 3G, when the suburb of a small North East Ohio town is actually able to get a 4G connection on this and other Verizon devices.
Another interesting thing happened one night after I plugged the Pantech into the charge and hopped into bed. We get some severe weather, and so we have a NOAA weather radio, which started making strange noises, like a pulse or a cycle. I unplugged the radio and didn't think about it again. On the trip to New Jersey, I set Pantech in my center console next to my iPod RF broadcaster. When I went to operate the screen, you could hear interference matching my interaction on the device's screen through my car stereo. I suspect that this device is not shielded as well and has stronger electromagnetic interference than a lot of other devices.
The Pantech Breakout is a strong, inexpensive, and budge-conscious Android device. The screen is nicer than the Droid 2 — not just in size, but in color and clarity. It also has a nice ergonomic design, and it features 4G connectivity and the ability to tether as a mobile hotspot for an extra fee. There are some flaws, but if you're looking for a 4G Android phone and money is tight, the Pantech Breakout is worth your consideration.
Donovan Colbert has over 16 years of experience in the IT Industry. He's worked in help-desk, enterprise software support, systems administration and engineering, IT management, and is a regular contributor for TechRepublic. Currently, his professional role is as a Linux support engineer for a fast-growing Linux/FOSS consultancy group. You can follow him @dcolbert on Twitter or his personal blog, located at http://donovancolbert.blogspot.com.