Pantech Flex Review

5
Introduction and Design
Introduction:

Being Pantech and all, they have this reputation in the mobile industry as being a value based manufacturer, which is rightfully so considering the unprecedented amount of inexpensive devices they bring to the market. As we’ve witnessed, they tried desperately to make a splash in the Android scene, but thus far, they haven’t been able to bring to market a true competitor. Bogged down for so long, we might finally have a worthwhile competitor, as the $50 on-contract Pantech Flex aims to flaunt its muscles with its sharp industrial design and contemporary hardware specs.

The package contains:

  • microUSB cable
  • Wall charger
  • Start Guide
  • Safety and Warranty Information

Design:

Whoa! It’s really difficult for us to believe that the Flex is a Pantech-made device – mainly because it’s sporting one rock solid industrial design. Unlike the cheap feeling stuff they’ve put out in the past, the Pantech Flex is easily by far their best-made device to date. Although it’s still comprised out of mostly gunmetal colored plastics, which is of the sturdy variety, the soft touch surface and metallic plate in the rear adds some sense of durability. Furthermore, it’s sleek (0.32” thick), sufficiently weighted, and still easy on the hands to grasp. Combining all of the elements in play, we’re astounded with the look of the Flex.


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

Keeping things to a minimum, Pantech decided to omit Android capacitive buttons with this one, which is what we’d expect to find on an Ice Cream Sandwich packing device. Meanwhile, the earpiece and front-facing 2-mgeapixel camera are found in their typical spots above the display.


Rigid to say the least, we’re able to feel out both the volume control and power button, but with the latter, it’s less pronounced – still, they exhibit decent tactile responses when pressed. Also around the sides of the handset, we find its 3.5mm headset jack and microUSB port for charging/data connectivity.


Flipping it over, there’s a healthy sized 8-megapixel auto-focus camera with LED flash perched near the upper left corner, which has the ability to capture videos in 1080p. Not too far away from it, there’s a large notch nearby that houses its internal speaker. And lastly, prying off the rear casing gives us access to its microSIM slot, 1,830 mAh battery, and microSD card slot.



Display:

Complementing its premium look and feel, the Pantech Flex features a 4.3” qHD (540 x 960) Super AMOLED display, which upon closer inspection, employs the PenTile Matrix arrangement. Since it’s an AMOLED display on here, it boasts all of the attractive elements that make it sight to behold – like as its over-saturated color production. Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to see outdoors with the sun present, as the display washes out – plus, it doesn’t help when it offers some weak viewing angles too. Despite that, we’re comforted to see something pleasant looking on the Pantech Flex.



Pantech Flex 360-degrees View:





Interface and Functionality:

Running Pantech’s customized experience on top of Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich, it lacks the cohesiveness and comprehensive features found with rival experiences. To be more explicit, it’s rather elementary. Yet, it offers all the features attached with the Android experience to get us by – like its rich personalization and useful widgets. However, differentiating itself from the crop, Pantech offers an “Easy Experience” mode that dumbs down the interface. In this mode, it makes the Android experience uncomplicated, as we’re given some barebones functions – such as having a single homescreen and only the most pertinent of apps. From the looks of it, the “Easy Experience” specifically caters to those who aren’t technologically savvy.


Even with its modest sized 4.3” display, the layout of its keyboard can still be require some adjusting, since buttons are on the tiny side with the stock ICS keyboard – albeit, its responsiveness is pretty good. If the stock option doesn’t fit your needs, the Flex also boasts the SwiftKey and Swype keyboards as well.


Checking out the usual arsenal of core organizer apps, it doesn’t surprise us that Pantech didn’t decide to optimize them in any way. Moreover, the email experience is soundly effective in keeping us productive throughout the day.


Talk about being loaded with a ton of third party apps! Naturally, some prove to be more useful than others, but the full listing consists of Amazon Kindle, Key Ring, Net Media, Pill Reminder, Pulse, Qik Lite, Social Gallery, Social World, and YPmobile. Not surprisingly, AT&T’s presence is in full force as well, seeing that we find apps like AT&T Code Scanner, AT&T FamilyMap, AT&T Locker, AT&T Navigator, AT&T Radio, AT&T Smart Wi-Fi, A&T Live TV, and myAT&T.



Processor and Memory:

Don’t think for a moment that its inexpensive price point means that the Pantech Flex is going to be packing some lame processor – that’s so not the case here. Impressively, it’s actually carrying on aboard a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor coupled with 1GB of RAM. With that in tow, there’s no worry with the handset’s performance, as it’s able to execute most operations with plenty of finesse – though, occasional hiccups still happen every now and then. Nevertheless, we’re soundly impressed by the processing power with this little guy. And oh yeah, its benchmarks scores prove it!


Quadrant StandardAnTuTuNenaMark 2
Pantech Flex5083697460,5
Samsung Galaxy S III4520611159,4
Samsung Exhilarate 2639542252,8
HTC One X AT&T4958686357,7


Out of the box, the smartphone is packing a measly 5.46GB of internal storage, which isn’t sufficient in this day and age. Luckily though, you can supplement that capacity by throwing a microSD card of your choice into it.

Internet and Connectivity:

Again, it’s almost hard to fathom that this small bundle of joy is packing 4G LTE connectivity – even more when it’s a delightful offering for a $50 on-contract device. More than adequate enough to give us a pleasant web browsing experience, its smooth navigational controls prove that reality. Additionally, there’s a huge emphasis with social networking integration, as a hidden menu bar on the bottom of the browser gives us access to some sharing functions. However, its performance stutters a bit when it’s faced with heavy Adobe Flash content on-screen. Still, when you add in 4G LTE connectivity to the mix combined with its decent performance, it’s suitable enough in our books.


Traveling abroad? Well, if you plan on doing that, the Pantech Flex is more than capable of being used with various GSM-based carriers throughout the world, but domestically, it’s only able to receive LTE connections with AT&T. Meanwhile, it’s outfitted with the usual suspect of connectivity features we’d expect to find – such as aGPS, Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, and mobile hotspot. Sorry people, there’s no NFC with this one!



Camera:

Although it’s a definite improvement over other Pantech smartphones we’ve checked out, the photo quality produced by the 8-megapixel snapper of the Flex still pales in comparison to most things out there. Specifically, its results are muddied by soft details, washed out colors, and prevalent bouts of over-exposure. Naturally, things don’t get any better with shots in low lighting, as its quality is diminished further. Worst yet, images tend to blur because of its slow shutter speed.




Strangely, its 1080p video recording quality fares much better with its overall look. For the most part, it’s quite usable as it exhibits some pleasant details and a smooth capture of 30 frames per second. However, its audio recording is filled with a noticeable amount of distortion. Regardless, the overall package is much more tolerable than its snap shot results.

Pantech Flex Sample Video:



Multimedia:

In addition to the usual Google Play Music app, Pantech’s very own music player is on board as well – though, it’s on the boring side with its presentation. Despite that, it’s more than functional in playing our tunes. Listening to its audio output, there’s a presence of screechiness with its tone at the loudest setting. However, turning on its Dolby mobile option, it enhances the treble for better and deeper results.



Well, there’s a lot to like about the video watching experience on the Pantech Flex. For starters, it offers a wide support for different codecs, like DivX, H.264, MPEG-4, and XviD, to give us enough variety in what to watch. Moreover, its Super AMOLED display is sharp enough to please our eyes, as it’s able to play our test video that’s encoded in DivX 1920 x 1080 resolution.





Calling Quality and Battery:

Calling quality could’ve fared better, but for the most part, the crackle evidenced with voices through the earpiece and speakerphone softens its quality. Thankfully, our callers experienced better on their end of the line, seeing that they’re presented with audible voices with almost no instance of distortion.

Having a steady connection to the network, we didn’t experience any major fluctuation with its signal strength or dropped phone calls during our testing in the greater Philadelphia area.

Using the Pantech Flex strictly with AT&T’s HSPA+ network, as opposed to LTE since it’s not available in our area just yet, we’re content with the average battery life we’re able to get out. Specifically, it’s a solid one day with normal usage – while heavy usage still gets us by through a work day. However, there’s no question that being on 4G LTE will drain its battery faster.

Conclusion:

Factoring all of its features, hardware, and price point, it’s very hard to not like the Pantech Flex. No doubt, it really flexes its muscles enough to make it a fine offering in many ways, and without question, this is the most soundly premium smartphone we’ve seen come out of Pantech. Indeed, it’s still missing the mark in a few key areas, like its camera performance and platform experience, but regardless of that, it offers a ton of value and features at $50 on-contract. Therefore, if you’re not looking to unload a whole lot of money on an Android smartphone, there’s plenty of good reason to check the Pantech Flex out.

Software version of the reviewed unit:
Android Version: 4.0.4
Kernel Version: 3.08
Build Number: IMM76D

Pantech Flex Video Review:





Pros

  • Solid industrial design for a Pantech device
  • Inexpensive $50 price point
  • Good balance of hardware & performance

Cons

  • Slow shutter speed
  • Dull platform experience

PhoneArena Rating:

7.5

User Rating:

10.0
1 Reviews

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