The quest to find the best deal. You want value, but you don't want to pay top dollar. If that sounds like you, look no further than the Discover.
Pantech isn't a household name yet, and its products haven't been all that impressive. But the South Korean company, from the land of Samsung and LG, is better with each release. And the Discover is its best phone yet.
It runs on Android, of course, and comes with a 4.8-inch screen and powerful 12-megapixel camera -- some of the same great features on fancier phones like the Galaxy S3. But the most impressive part? The price. It costs just $50. For the package, you won't find a better deal at a bargain basement price.
The Discover looks boring. At 5.3-inches tall and 2.7-inches wide, it's very average in build. But the mix of rounded edges and gently curved back make it one of the most comfortable phones to hold -- it's not sexy, it's function over form here. Rubbery plastic gives you a solid grip and silver accents along the sides add a touch of style.
The 4.8-inch screen packs a sharp 720-by-1,280 resolution for a pristine picture. Sound familiar? It should. That's the same size and resolution as the S3 -- and it's just as good. Viewing angles are wide and text looks crisp, so reading is easy on the eyes. But it's not as vibrant as the bright displays on the iPhone 5 and DNA. Bear in mind, you're paying $50 rather than $150, so all in all, I can't complain.
The top bulges a bit to make room for 3-D surround-sound speakers that flank either side. They're subtly added into the design, so they look a bit like those small slot-style speakers, but don't be fooled -- they give a fuller, more robust sound than on most devices. And they're loud and clear even outdoors, though not really richer. With headphones, you can boost treble and bass with the equalizer, but I had to tone down the bass -- it sounded a bit heavy.
The centerpiece is a walloping 12.6-megapixel camera. Indoors and out, I found photos were generally very sharp and vibrant, but in the harsh afternoon sun, light colors tend to wash out. Photos tend to have a fuzzy quality to them for close-up shots as well. Megapixels don't always translate into exceptional photos, and not every picture was great. But in this case, you'll be satisfied with most of them. It's comparable to the 8-megapixel S3.
The lens, meanwhile, is fast, so you can snap photos in a third of a second. Beyond white balance and metering, options are pretty sparse. But you do get HDR mode, panorama for landscapes and filters like "best face" to choose open eyes and the most photogenic smiles for photos. You can record 1080p video at 30 frames per second, but clips I recorded turn out incredibly jerky -- even with the steadiest of hands. A time-lapse feature gives you some interesting effects to play with, and a front-facing 2-megapixel lens lets you video chat.
You get a lot of hardware for such a low price, but the software isn't that great -- ICS is a bit dated. If you yearn for Jelly Bean, Pantech said updates are on the way, whenever that is. The Discover runs on a heavily-modified interface, so the lock screen, notification bar and homescreens. There are even gesture controls, so you can wave your hand over the lens to answer a call, for example, or move left or right to navigate through the menu.
But if you're new to smartphones, the Discover is made for you. It comes with "easy experience" mode that strips down the operating system. Icons and text is larger, and menus are less cluttered. It's a gentle way to test the Android waters. Really, though it's just a waste of space. The learning curve, while intimidating, is easy to pick up. And after a week or two, you'll jump to full Android. Then you won't look back, except to wish you had the free space taken up by easy mode.
Fortunately, AT&T keeps the bloatware thin, but it's pushing "DriveMode," an app designed to curb distracted driving. If you're in a car moving faster than 25 miles per hour, it'll automatically blocks calls and texts and reply with an "unavailable" message to let people know you're busy. Emergency numbers can bypass the feature, but it's a nice feature if you have kids that just picked up their license.
Under the hood, a 1.5-gigahertz dual-core chip, along with 1-gigabytes of RAM, keeps everything running nice and smooth. And I didn't notice any hiccups when watching videos or playing games -- it didn't feel like a budget phone. AT&T 4G LTE service is speedy at rates of around 30-megabits per second, and serves as a solid backbone to stream movies, music and browse the Web. You can also tether it to power 10 other Wi-Fi-enabled devices -- with a service plan.
Meanwhile, a long-lasting 2,100 mAh battery keeps you powered through the day. I lasted about 16 hours, with about 10 hours of continuous video playback. If you need more juice, you can buy a second battery -- it's removable. Unfortunately, the microSD slot is located under the pack, so it's a bit tough to get to it. Pick up a 32- or 16-gigabyte card, because you'll blow through the paltry 12-gigabytes of storage quickly.
The Discover has a remarkable camera, outstanding sound system and solid hardware at an affordable price. It's a good thing Pantech isn't yet a household name, because you won't be paying for the brand like you do the Galaxy. When you buy the Discover, you'll be paying for what you get -- a great 12-megapixel camera, sharp 4.8-inch display and speedy 4G LTE service. They say beggars can't be choosers, but in this case, it's a feast.
Unfortunately, most high-end devices come with an equally high-end price tag. But for the best bang for the bucks, check out Pantech's other phones -- like the Flex and Marauder, which both come with a stripped-down version of Android. They're designed for an older crowd, but they're cheap and they're smartphones.
Nokia's Lumia 521 gives you a fine set of Windows features without signing a contract, while LG's Lucid2 offers a mediocre display and camera at a bargain price. But the Discover and Flex are the best of the group, and unless you spend a little more, that's the best you'll find. ♦
You get so much for so little. I wouldn't call the Discover a budget phone, but it's priced like one. But don't let that fool you; it has all the elements of a more expensive device.
Silver lines along the sides and a blue circle around the 12-megapixel camera -- the highlight of the phone -- gives it a touch of aesthetic flair. The size is fairly light and easy to use with either hand. And a rubberized back ensures it fits your hand nicely, and you don't let it slip.
The 4.8-inch screen is bright and clear and runs from edge to edge. When you watch the Iron Man 3 trailer, included on the phone, it seems like you're watching it on a smaller version of an HD TV. You can see the details in Tony Stark's suit, from the scratches to the dents. And browsing webpages is clear and easy on the eyes. It's just as good indoors as out, and you can see everything from a wide range of angles -- a pro or a con depending if you want privacy on the subway.
The 12-megapixel camera is amazing. On paper, it's a top-notch lens, and in real-life, it performs well. Photos and videos are sharp, but the color accuracy is a bit dull. If you're a stickler for photographs, expect to turn up the saturation in post-editing. The camera works without lag, but the lens had a hard time capturing fast-moving objects, resulting in some blurring. Interestingly, the video tends to oversaturate the colors.
Not enough people mention the great speakers located along the side. Pantech included 3D surround sound, so if you watch videos or listen to music that supports it, you'll hear a fuller range of trebles and bass. As I watched Iron Man, the speakers blasted out all the explosions so clearly that I had to turn it down so the person next to me wouldn't be surprised.
The Discover runs on ICS, rather than JB, which means you won't have new features like Google Now. Pantech promises to push out a release soon -- without pegging a date. If you're used to Android, this will be old news. You can add shortcuts to three customizable home screens, but there's an Easy Mode that trims it to the bare minimum. Buttons for the browser and other features are larger too, so it's easier for people with bad eyesight to tap and open.
Something neat: you can control your phone through gestures. So if you want to pick up a call, jump to the next song or open the photo gallery -- just wave your hand across the lens. It works well, but the usefulness seems limited.
The Discover comes with a bunch of third-party apps -- some unwanted -- from Pantech and AT&T, including DriveMode, which can block texts and calls if you're in a car moving faster than 25 mph. I suppose that's a useful app if you're a parent, but otherwise you could just not pick up the phone. If you're concerned about security, there's some encryption features too.
Lastly, the battery is average. Depending on your usage habits, you should be able to last the day.
If you're not over 60, there's really no point in using Easy Experience mode. Even if you're not tech savvy, after a week or so, it'll seem too elementary for you and want to jump to Standard mode.
Overall, the Discover is a good phone at a great price. It's not without its flaws, but nothing is too serious. Easy Experience seems like a waste of space, considering how stripped down the features are. But the camera, audio and multimedia make it a great value for such an affordable phone.Was this review helpful to you?
This is the most smartphone you'll get for your money. To a lot of people, including me, the price made it seem too good to be true. And I was skeptical. But after taking the plunge, I can say it's worth every penny.
The Discover is a slim and comfortable phone to hold. It's not flashy, but the chrome highlights and dark backplate give it a quality look -- despite its plastic materials. The top protrudes out to make room for the two speaker ports. And they're surprisingly loud. You won't need headphones -- the music pumps out clear, and without distortion, even at the highest volume. If you do a lot of business on your phone on conference calls, this will be a big plus.
The 4.8-inch display is bright, but not ridiculously vibrant, and the whopping 12-megapixel camera takes sharp photos -- comparable to the Galaxy S3. I won't go too much into it here, as there are others who describe it well. In short, they're both exceptional -- especially at this price.
The 1.5-gigahertz chip powers through apps with smooth ease. A note: it runs on Android's older ICS software, but Jelly Bean is on the way. A nice feature is the ability to "float" certain apps over the main window. So you can bring up the music player when you're writing an e-mail for easier multitasking.
Pantech seemed to aim this at an older audience, since it included an "Easy" mode, which increases the size of text, and removes some non-essential buttons from the interface. The streamline navigation is helpful if you're intimidated by technology.
AT&T, meanwhile, added "DriveMode," which blocks all messages and calls if you're in a moving vehicle. The nice thing is it'll automatically send a reply back telling them you're preoccupied.
If you're like me, you came across this phone because of its price. And the cheapness probably scared you a bit. But don't be. Sure, you can find better phones out there, but they'll often cost you an arm and a leg. The Discover is the only phone with high-end features at an affordable phone. Of course, you don't get a big brand name like Samsung or HTC, but Pantech has come a long way, and if can keep up the pace, you'll know if it in due time. The Discover is its best phone yet.Was this review helpful to you?
I went for the Discover because I'm not very comfortable with technology. I did a lot of research before taking the plunge, and the Starter Mode was very appealing to me. To give some background, I had the iPhone previously, but every time I had to upgrade via iTunes, I'd be pulling my hair out. After my contract expired, I decided to give Android a try -- so I bought the HTC Inspire... and got hooked on Android.
So that's what brought me to the Discover. Having gotten used to Google, I love being able to transfer photos, music, videos and files without having to install extra software. It's so much easier than iTunes. And after considering the LG Escape, Motorola Atrix HD and HTC One X, I went with the Discover... and couldn't be happier.
The Discover is light and compact. It's not the sexiest phone out there, but it's not the ugliest phone out there either. The display is bright and sharp and the speakers are loud and clear. The most important feature to me -- the 12-megapixl camera -- is fantastic. The lens is so quick too. One of my gripes about the Inspire was its annoyingly slow shutter. Taking a photo took seconds -- after a pause -- but it felt like a lifetime. I missed so many great photos because of the lag. The Discover, by contrast, is fast, and you can take one photo after another without any stalling.
The battery is above average. I know most smartphones are battery hogs, and the Discover is not going to beat out a feature phone. But I can get through the morning with about 90 percent power, and through the evening with more than 70 percent juice left. That's with moderate use -- a few texts, some gaming and a couple calls -- nothing too heavy.
I'm a bit disappointed it runs on ICS rather than Jelly Bean. But it doesn't matter much to me, since I'm not a techie. Either way, I'm very happy with the Discover. And if you're new to smartphones, you'll be satisfied too.Was this review helpful to you?
After comparing the Discover to the One X and the Galaxy S3, I decided to go with Pantech. And I'm pretty glad I did. First, the display can rival any competitor. It's big and vibrant. The quad-core chip powers any apps or videos you throw at it.
The rubbery grip and the design are nice. It's a solid device with a great package of multimedia features like music with stereo speakers. But what I love best about it is the removable battery and the microSD slot.
The only issue is the bloatware, and it's really annoying. But it's not a serious enough issue to keep me from recommending this phone. I'm hoping Pantech upgrades the phone to Jelly Bean soon.Was this review helpful to you?
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