Pantech Crux Review

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Introduction and Design
Introduction:

Pantech hasn’t been a major player for Verizon Wireless, usually releasing just one or two phones per year, of which most have been texting devices, such as the Pantech Jest, Razzle, and Blitz. Now that touchscreen phones have become all the rage, Pantech’s answer is the new Crux, a thin and lightweight feature-phone with a 3” touchscreen, coming in at a low price. But does the Pantech Crux have what it takes to become the next big thing in the feature-phone mainstream arena?

Included in the retail package is the Pantech Crux phone, pre-installed 1GB microSD memory card, 1100mAh battery, wall charger with detachable microUSB cable, and user guides.

Design:

The look of the Pantech Crux is very minimalistic with an all black plastic construction and chrome accents around the sides, though we found the rear of the phone to feel a bit cheap and flimsy with the battery cover. The device is quite thin at only 0.50” and comes in at just 4.3oz, making it easy to hold for long phone conversations or tucked away in skinny jeans.



You can compare the Pantech Crux with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

On the front of the Crux is the 3” 240x400 pixel resolution capacitive touchscreen, which responds to the slightest touch, unlike the LG Cosmos Touch that uses a pressure resistive screen. But due to its low resolution, text and images aren’t going to be nice and sharp, but instead look a bit jagged and pixelated around the edges. You have to lock and unlock the device by sliding the screen up or down, and our concern here is if the internal mechanism may break over time. Under the display is a touch home key that will take you back to the home screen regardless of which task you are currently in. Pressing it while you are already in the home screen will show an overview of all three home screens that you can move through (more on that later). Around the sides of the phone are the volume rocker, microUSB port, dedicated music playback keys, 3.5mm headset jack, camera, voice command, and power keys, and the microSDHC memory card slot (32GB supported). On the back is the 3MP camera and external speaker.



Pantech Crux 360-degree View:





Interface and Features:

As we mentioned earlier, there are three home screens on the Crux that you can cycle though by moving your finger across the screen. The first one shows 12 shortcut icons to items such as the media center, web browser, music, message, and VZ Navigator. The second screen shows icon links to connect to your social networking, including Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, GMail and YouTube. But what ends up happening is that all of those (expect for YouTube) actually open the Social Beat program where you login to your sites. The YouTube link opens up the web browser and takes you to the mobile m.youtube.com site where you can watch videos. The third homescreen allows you to add icon links on the desktop to your music files, pictures, and videos. While this is nice, we wish it would allow for adding frequently used contacts, as that would make it more functional. Regardless of which of the three homescreens you are in, there will be four static icons at the bottom for accessing the voicemail, recent calls, keypad, and contacts. As far as any user customizations, you are limited to changing the position of icons on the home screen, replacing them with another icon, and display them as shortcuts or a grid view. The only themes that come included are Misty Black and Pastel White, but all they do is change the background menu color. You can also select an image for the wallpaper, but it is only shown on the screen when the phone is locked.


When moving around through the menus and the different programs, our main complaint is that the user interface is slow to respond. We’re not expecting smartphone speeds here, but we believe that it is still slower than it should be, since you have to use to touchscreen for everything on the device.

The phonebook on the Pantech Crux allows up to 1000 contacts to be saved with multiple numbers and email addresses, picture and ringtone, IM screen name, and street address. Unfortunately, there is only enough room to store up to 99 speed dial entries, whereas most other phones allow up to 999.


One thing that is uncommon on an inexpensive phone is a 3MP camera, but don’t let that fool you as the picture quality is lacking. Images that we took outside suffered from poor color representation and looked soft and out-of-focus. Images taken inside were equally bad, especially in low light. Videos can be recorded in a maximum resolution of 640x480, but their quality is poor too, and has jerky playback at only 15fps.





Pantech Crux Sample Video:



One nice feature is the music player, as it will categorize your music by songs, playlists, artists, and genres. Album art is shown on the screen while your song is playing, and you can even minimize the player to keep the music going in the background while you use the phone for other tasks, such as sending a message. Music quality wasn’t bad considering there’s only one speaker on the back, but of course any low frequencies will not be produced. The inclusion of a 3.5mm headset jack and Stereo Bluetooth support is also a nice touch.


The web browser is also pretty basic, as would be expected, but it is HTML based instead of being WAP. Because of this, web pages are formatted correctly, but some images will not load and Flash isn’t supported. The main drawback is that most web text is unreadable without zooming in, due to the low resolution display. Even though the Crux has a touchscreen, we were disappointed that it doesn’t support touch-to-zoom in the browser, but instead you have to double-tap or use the zoom-slider across the bottom of the screen. Overall, the browser is functional enough to get you by in a pinch, but isn’t intended for hours of use.


Most other software on the Crux is pretty standard for a Verizon device, including VCast Music, VCast Video streaming, VZ Navigator for GPS guided directions, and the ability to download other programs through the media center menu. Also included is Microsoft’s Bing search, where you can perform searches on the Web, Business Directory, or VZW Media. If you do just a standard search, it will search the Web for results, where the Business Directory search is good for restaurants, shopping, hotels, and other local places, while the VZW Media search will look for matching Verizon ringtones, wallpapers, games, and programs to download.





Performance:

Unlike the Pantech Jest that had dismal call quality, the Pantech Crux actually does quite well. Calls were loud with voices sounding clear and natural on both ends and lacking any background distortion. But unfortunately the signal reception is still pretty low, with usually only 1 bar showing in our strong coverage area, though we didn’t drop any calls.

The included 1100mAh battery is rated to provide up to 5.2 hours of talk time or 13.5 days of standby time on a full charge. During our testing, we were only able to get up to 4.5 hours of continuous talk time. After a few power cycles though you might be able to get a bit more out of it.

Conclusion:

The Pantech Crux is a pretty good touchscreen feature-phone that comes with an attractive price, slim body, and has plenty to offer someone not looking to get a smartphone. The main thing holding it back is the slow performance of the BREW software, as some programs took up to 20 seconds to load, while other similar devices are faster to respond.

A few alternatives would be the LG Cosmos Touch and the Samsung Reality, as both of those are feature-phones with touchscreens and have a faster user interface response than the Pantech Crux.

Software version of the reviewed unit: D8999VWA952F.225, Sept 24 2010

Pantech Crux Video Review:





Pros

  • Stylish and slim profile
  • Good voice quality
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Software is slow
  • Lacking camera quality
  • Signal reception isn’t the best

PhoneArena Rating:

6.0

User Rating:

6.4
32 Reviews

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