Pantech Matrix Pro Review

Introduction and Design
Introduction:

Hearing the word PRO recently in the phone industry insinuates in mind a full featured high end device. Packed with an eclectic mix of features, these PRO devices set the bar higher in terms of functionality and design from their previous incarnations. Pantech released the Duo last year on AT&T’s lineup which sported a form factor not traditionally seen used with Windows Mobile. More recently, they provided AT&T customers the Matrix which had similar design elements but deemed no longer as a full featured smart phone. The Pantech Matrix Pro is set to be the true successor of the Duo which aims to try and woe over business users who are looking to find something different with a more stream lined phone. Will the updated looks and Windows Mobile platform prove to function as smoothly and seamlessly? 

The package contains:
  • Pantech Matrix Pro
  • Charger
  • Protective Sleeve
  • User Manual
  • USB data cable
  • Starter CD
  • 3.5mm adapter


Design:

We were pleased with the overall design of the Matrix with very few dislikes about it. The same dual-slider form factor found in the Pantech Duo is used in the Matrix Pro. It sports a slick polished finish on the front with a more plastic material found for the rear. The curved edges and rounded corners give it that pebble look. It shines in the light brilliantly and emits a cool silver glow to give it a shiny look. You’ll notice that the phone is slippery because it has a just polished feel when you place it in your palm. The only downside is that it attracts finger prints and smudges more easily, but it doesn’t affect the feel in your hand. Although a little bit thicker (0.85”) and lighter (4.3 oz) than the Matrix, it still does not feel overly too large in the hand. 



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

The 2.4” screen comes to life and retains the same 240x340 pixel TFT display with 262k colors found on the Duo. Text is easily legible with no problems with clarity. Even in direct sun light, we were able to view the screen at every angle without any loss in detail.

Button layout on the face of the phone is balanced with the navigation pad taking up a good chunk of space with the center button used as the select key. Luckily the buttons are larger than the ones found with the Matrix, making it easier to press with good tactile feedback. The send, end, left, and right soft keys are flush with the surface. You will also find the circular dedicated home and back keys on the front which are slightly raised. The left side has the volume rocker with the REC key used for voice commander when held down and a quick list menu when pressed once. Charging or connecting the phone via USB requires the proprietary connection found on the right side. You’ll also find the dedicated camera key to take photos or videos. Accessing the microSD slot is quite a breeze now that it is found on the bottom of the device. Removing the back cover will give you access to the SIM card and battery (1320 mAh). Finally, the 2-megapixel camera and speaker phone can found on the rear and above the battery cover.



Sliding the phone upwards reveals the numeric keypad which illuminates with light grayish color. Keys are flush with the surface, but pressing down on them gives you that good tactile feel. Just like the face of the phone, the polished look gives off a slippery touch. Sliding the Matrix Pro the other way, left to right, exposes the QWERTY keyboard that uses the same layout found on the Duo. The Matrix had more rounded keys while the Matrix Pro’s are squarer with less spacing between them. At first look it might seem they are flush with the surface, but they are in fact slightly raised. We like how the buttons feel as you begin pressing down on them and found ourselves typing with relative ease. There are a total of three rows on the QWERTY with the numbers highlighted in silver to distinguish them from the others while everything else is black. We would have liked to see the backlighting on the buttons to be a little brighter because the dark keys had poor contrast.




Pantech Matrix Pro Video review:



Pantech Matrix Pro 360 Degrees view:



Software/Features:

The art of skinning has been the keeping the Windows Mobile platform fresh with new paint to keep it unique and not boring. Although touch screen devices seem to be the in thing, Pantech instead relies on Windows Mobile Standard 6.1 to power the Matrix Pro. You won’t find too many fancy looking 3D animation effects due to the small real estate on the screen.  Surprisingly, they managed to keep the experience interesting with the various home screens the user can choose from. It was especially pleasing to scroll down the home screen with transition animations accompanying every selection we made when using the sliding panel theme. You can choose in the Settings menu either an analog clock, world clock, calendar, or sliding panel home screen. Each of them meticulously showcases Pantech’s time and effort to provide users a revitalizing look to the standard Windows Mobile layout. Of course, underneath it all is the same old platform we have been accustomed to; littered with menus and plenty of scrolling. The only gripe we had was the slight delay when switching the screen orientation from portrait to landscape.



As with other Windows Mobile phones, you can store as many contacts as the phone’s memory can hold. From more traditional pieces of information such as phone numbers to obscure things like children, you can put in a lot of information for a single contact.

You can add an assortment of e-mail addresses and sync over the air using Microsoft Exchange Server. There is nothing different with the messaging options when compared to other such phones. We still had a joyful experience using the QWERTY keyboard for text messages or e-mails with no problems.

Not known for its camera capabilities, the Matrix Pro is average when it comes to point and shoot images. Holding down the dedicated camera button launches the photo application which takes five seconds. The interface is not plagued with too many icons that provide a good display of what you are taking. You can change some of the options such as white balance, effects, self-timer, resolution, and quality. There are a total of four resolution settings from the smallest 480x640 option to the full 1200x1600 pixel setting. There was good detail in the images we took, but colors came out bland in both low and bright conditions. In lower lit areas, we found some of the images to come out a little bit fuzzier. After taking a photo, it took roughly over five seconds before the preview of it came up on screen with another 3 seconds to start up the camera again. We’re not sure why there is so much time needed before the preview comes up. It’ll be almost impossible to “capture the moment” with such long waits.




Videos on the other hand were pixilated and choppy which is probably best suited for MMS. The main reason why they came out pixilated is because the phone can only take them at a resolution of 176x144. It does not adjust the brightness when going through different lighting conditions and we found ourselves manually changing it to get the best result. Audio quality was average at best. The Matrix Pro is a Video Share capable handset, but we were unable to test out the feature. It allows you to place a phone call while sending real time video to the other person at the same time.

There really isn’t too much to say about audio playback on the Matrix Pro. You’ll find the default Windows Media Player skin with an extra one to match the paint job found with the new home screen. The directional pad is used to play, pause, forward, or reverse a song. You’ll find the track name, artist, elapsed time, and album cover during playback. Something we liked that we saw was the integration of the media player through the home screen. Songs will continue to play if you press the end button and you’ll still be able to control it through the home screen. And just like other recent AT&T phones, additional music programs such as XM Radio, MusicID, and Pandora can be found.



One of the home screens we used incorporated a mini Windows Media Player for listening to music. You can control the player directly without having the application fully opened and running on screen. We were impressed with the audio quality from the rear speaker phone; it came out exquisite and clear without any crackling. You’ll have to use the 3.5mm adapter which fits through the proprietary connection port if you want to use your own pair of head phones. If you prefer a wireless option, it supports Bluetooth stereo connection.

Equally impressive was video playback with crisp and lag-free viewing.  Although the screen size may be small in comparison to other the touch screen phones, it still provides users a great experience. We managed to run a trailer in 320x136 H.264 format on the Matrix Pro with surprisingly smooth frame rates and good detail. The device automatically played it in landscape mode and but pressing the back button will go in portrait. No problems with sound quality as well with the phone. Unfortunately you will not able to view the video through the mini Windows Media Player on the home screen; only the audio portion from the video will continue to play. Still, we were impressed with how smooth video playback looks on the phone.

Using the device internationally for both phone calls and data will be no problems thanks to its global quad-band (850/900/1800/1900 MHz) and tri-band UMTS (850/1900/2100 MHz). The Matrix Pro uses Bluetooth 2.0 which gave us no issues pairing it up with a headset or laptop for wireless file transfers. 

So far the Matrix has proved itself to be a good device in several aspects up until we checked out the web browsing experience. We really were hoping to see some kind of browser optimized for the device, but we were disappointed to only find Pocket Internet Explorer available. Anyone who has used this will understand the painful long load times accompanied with it. Images took a long time to come up on screen and scrolling was just a nightmare with it taking forever to get to the bottom of a page. You can always install an alternate application such as Opera Mobile or Skyfire for a more enjoyable experience.



Windows Mobile Standard 6.1 allows you to view Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files without the ability to edit them. For travelers on the go, using AT&T Navigator will provide good turn-by-turn directions while offering plenty of local points of interests. The Matrix Pro’s IM client is powered by OZ Messenger to allow you to pick from AIM, Windows Live Messenger, or Yahoo Messenger. There is a great Voice Commander software installed as well which you can to do a variety of things from phone calls to running programs. It managed to pick up what we said without having to repeat ourselves.

The smart phone comes with 94.1 MB of storage memory and 68 MB of program memory. You can supplement the storage memory with microSD support for cards up to 32GB. The Matrix Pro is loaded with 128MB RAM and 256MB ROM which is doubled than what the Pantech Duo uses. They also bumped up the speed to 528 MHz using a Qualcomm 7201A processor. The only major time we noticed any lag was when we opened up the QWERTY to switch the display to landscape. We ran multiple programs at once and the phone managed to keep up without any obvious slowdown.



Performance:

Sometimes we forgot that we were using a smart phone for making phone calls.  It’s very rare to see manufacturers use the dual-slider form factor for something powered by Windows Mobile; but Pantech has perfected the formula. Phone conversations were clear without any background distortion. People stated that our voice on their end was also easily understood. Surprisingly, the speaker phone was useable and did not find ourselves repeating our conversations. We had to place the volume setting on the highest setting in order to listen more easily.

In the time we tested out the phone, we did not get any of our calls dropped in the greater New York metropolitan area. Reception was really good and it managed to retain a solid signal. There were very few times when our data connection dropped from 3G to EDGE speeds. Unfortunately, there is no Wi-Fi option available if you are in an apparent “dead zone.” Nevertheless, there were rare instances when connection dropped while using the device.

Using the same battery size found on the Duo, we were expecting to get some serious use out of the device after fully charging it. Talk time is rated at 3 hours while stand-by time at 250 hours. After 5 days of using the device, we were left with one bar which is great for a smart phone,. You’ll probably have to change some of the default settings to help save battery consumption because it does not have any light or proximity sensors.

Conclusion:

Very rarely you’ll find a smart phone using the form factor that Matrix Pro utilizes. It’s a refreshing thing to see that Pantech is one of the few to retain the design and implement the Windows Mobile platform. We don’t mind the thickness of the phone because the beauty of the dual-slider makes it unique to other smart phones. At the same time, it functions perfectly as a phone with the touch of business minded applications. Typing away on the QWERTY was one of the biggest plus; making e-mail and text messages a lot easier to complete. Although there is a delay when switching the screen orientation, it wasn’t to the point frustrating. The biggest appeal will be the unique form factor it uses which is an invigorating departure from all the current crop of smart phones out there.



Pros

  • Solid design
  • QWERTY keyboard
  • Beautiful home screens
  • Unique design for smart phones

Cons

  • Web browsing experience
  • No Wi-Fi
  • Delay in screen orientation

PhoneArena Rating:

7.0

User Rating:

8.2
2 Reviews

Recommended Stories

Loading Comments...
FCC OKs Cingular\'s purchase of AT&T Wireless