Pantech Flex Review: Training Wheels Included
Do apps freak you out? If they do, the Pantech Flex will ease into Android -- it's a modest device with training wheels for software. The Flex is great choice if you want a simple, yet attractive, smartphone.
Pantech crafted the Flex with premium materials, so it feels more like a high-end device than the price you'll pay. At just half an inch thick and four and a half ounces, it's compact and lightweight. Small and light doesn't mean cheap, though -- the mix of sleek aluminum and sturdy rubberized plastic gives it a durable yet well-made feel. Overall, I thought it looked good. But I have one complaint: the hardware lock is unnecessary. You can lock with software. I suppose it can make you feel more secure to use a button, but it besmirches the design ever-so-slightly.
Too bad the 4.3-inch display doesn't match the design. The screen is bright, but at 960-by-540 pixels, it's not that sharp. You can also blame the PenTile layout, which makes fonts look fuzzy. Unless you look for it, though, it's not very noticeable. For a cheap phone, the display is fine, but it's nothing to rave about. If you're considering the Flex, that means you're more concerned with the basics, and it'll suit your needs.
The 8-megapixel camera stands up to the big boys. An LED flash lights up the room without washing out faces, so colors pop. I like the panorama mode, which lets you take scenic shots, and HDR mode lets you manipulate light and snap dramatic images. That makes up for the lackluster Burst mode, which didn't take pictures as quickly as I hoped, despite the fast shutter speed. The 1080p videos I shot looked choppy, and I had trouble with the focus, so everyone looked like a Monet painting. Dropping quality down to 720p didn't solve the problem -- the video recording is just wonky. A 2-megapixel front-facing lens, meanwhile, lets you video chat, and that's strangely clear.
The Flex comes with not one, but two versions of Android ICS -- both heavily augmented by the Pantech and tragically loaded with AT&T bloatware. You can choose between the standard or "easy experience" mode. Pantech kept newbies in mind when it stripped down the software, and the simplified version is ideal if you're tech-impaired. Think of it as software training wheels. What do you get? A lot less. It streamlines Android, so if you're a technophobes, you can use helpful apps without feeling inundated with confusing extras. You'll get one easy-to-use, impossible-to-mess-up homescreen that has just the most important icons and widgets. It's a nice uncluttered display. The messaging app is stripped down too, so don't expect threaded messages or integration with third-party apps. And if you whip out reading glasses, you'll be glad to know the images are bigger too. You know Pantech developed easy experience with the elderly in mind, because it comes with a "pill reminder" feature so you forget to take your meds.
Easy experience is nice if you think you need mobile floaties, but it dramatically limits the power of Android -- and after a few weeks, you'll gather the courage to make the jump to standard mode. Standard mode comes with the usual version of Android, with a subtle Pantech overlay. The keyboard layout on both versions is larger than the average Android layout, and takes up a big part of the screen for easier and more accurate typing. You'll get Swype too, if you'd rather glide around instead of tap.
The Flex also comes with a 1.5-gigahertz dual-core chip and runs on AT&T's 4G LTE network, which is, frankly, overkill, but nonetheless speedy. The 1,830 mAh battery lasts just short of an amazing two days, even with 4G on, so you if you forget to take your pills, you won't have to remember to charge. You'll get 8-gigabytes of storage, which you can boost to 32-gigabyte by loading a microSD card behind the back cover, so you'll have plenty of room for movies and photos, even if the screen isn't the best.
If you don't know your way around an Android, the Flex is for you. If you know your way around, but just want a good deal, it's a fine choice. But before you buy, I'd suggest you take a look at the Pantech Marauder and Samsung Stellar too -- they're both stripped down smartphones, but the Flex has better hardware.
Unless you're over 60, I think you should give a normal smartphone a look. Once you learn Android, and it's simple, you won't go back to easy mode. But for the price, you won't find 8-megapixel lens, 1.5-gigahertz chip and 4G LTE anywhere else. It really doesn't get better than this -- with or without training wheels. The only phone I can think of that's truly comparable is the LG Escape, but the Flex comes with superior harder and a better design. ♦
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Super AMOLED (Accelerometer / Proximity Sensor / Ambient Light Sensor)
December 04, 2012
So much vibration!
This is a great camera... But just an okay phone. I like the light weight of the phone and the display is larger than others. It also has a totally separate alarm for pills which is fun. It also has talk to text which is something no one should do without these days.
It's dumbed down... There's no options... Like how in heck do you turn off the key vibration?!?! And if you mess up your screen, you will nev be able to go "home"... It would be nice to have one real button. There are so many screens, and unlike past androids like the htc phones it's ally hard to set up the home page.Was this review helpful to you?
4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.
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