Pantech Renue Review: An Eco-Friendly Letdown
The Pantech Renue is an eco-friendly phone with a slide-out keyboard, and it's equally kind to your wallet as it is to the environment. If you want to just make calls and send messages, the low price will make your heart sing like Celine Dion. If you hate data plans and the green aspect appeals to you, it's a perfect match -- but the horrible screen, shoddy camera and weak battery make it hard to recommend.
The Renue has serious flaws, but the design isn't one of them. I prefer a sleek, elegant device, but I have to say, it's adorable. It reminds me of a pudgy little baby phone. It's similar to the Pocket, another chubby device, but more compact and comfortable in your jeans. At 3.9-inches tall and 2.5-inches wide, with rounded corners, I found it easy to use with one hand. The front is a mixture of glossy and matte plastic, and the textured battery cover has a rubbery finish, giving it a slightly hardier feel.
Once you turn the 3.2-inch screen on, the warm feelings disappear. The 320-by-240 pixel resolution is fuzzy at best and hard-to-read at worst. Colors are vibrant and true-to-life, but details disappear. If you like Impressionism, you'll love how blurry it is, but if you want to -- oh, I don't know -- watch a movie, you will have trouble distinguishing details like hairstyles or faces. If you stick with texting, the fuzziness is manageable, but for more complex tasks, the display distorts and blurs like a funhouse mirror.
The slide-out four-row keyboard, like everything else, is on the small side. But the buttons are well-spaced and easy to press -- I didn't have trouble typing. Keys are springy beneath the fingers, and I almost forgave the awful screen -- the keyboard works so well. I love the threaded messages -- it gives texts a back-and-forth conversation layout.
But no matter how much I love the messaging, I had trouble with the 3-megapixel camera. The lens stops short of being unusable. The shutter is fast, but saving each photo takes ages. Not that there's a point in saving them. Unless you're in pristine lighting, and you're taking pictures of inanimate objects, they'll come out distorted, dark, blurry and ugly -- there's no flash, no auto-focus and no chance if you're in dim light. Video recording isn't much better.
Since it's a feature phone, Pantech loaded last decade's Brew software. The five homescreens are as basic as they get, but at least they look cheerful, and your dog can figure out how to navigate them. The simplicity is fine, because if you're reading this, cutting-edge software isn't your priority. But it's bare-bones: there's no Wi-Fi, just 3G. So if you want to e-mail or browse the Web, you'll gobble data. And if you plan to do that with any amount of regularity, it's cheaper to get a smartphone with a small data plan -- you'll also get an operating system and apps.
That said, the Renue does have Web browsing and e-mail. An app connects with Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL and a number of other services. And you can also use the Opera Mini 5.1 browser to check out websites -- though, I must remind you, the extremely shoddy display makes it more of a hassle than it's worth.
The Renue comes with just 190-megabytes of storage, which is miniscule, but you can beef it up to 64-gigabytes with a microSD card. Why? I wouldn't know. There's not much you need to store, since multimedia is such a disaster. But it's a nice option, I suppose. The music player is by far the best feature -- it comes with an equalizer a standard 3.5-millimeter headphone jack. There's usually a benefit to the limited software: exceptional battery life -- but not here. Even if you're just casually message and chat, you'll need to keep a charger handy. The 1,000 mAh battery barely lasts half the workday, even with its energy saver pack.
Your inner hippie will be happy to know it's made of 67 percent recyclable and hazard-free materials, but if you want more than a phone to call with, your more practical side will squash that patchouli-loving voice in your head. As a feature phone, you won't be forced to sign up to a data plan. But if you want to use the Internet or added features, AT&T will tack on fees that end up making the Renue needlessly expensive.
Even without add-ons, it's overpriced for a basic phone, no matter how adorably squat. So unless you're deeply connected to its eco-friendly design, skip it. If you want a green phone, check out the Samsung Evergreen. It's made of 80 percent eco-materials and features a better display. ♦
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October 01, 2012
Poorly Designed Touch Keys
I bought the Renue because I didn't want to get locked into a data plan. Before I purchased it, I knew it lacked the capabilities of a smartphone, so the mediocre functionality wasn't a surprise.
The design and touch screen and size are great. It doesn't have Wi-Fi, but for me, it has all the essentials -- a music player, camera with video and basic tools like calendar, alarms and a calculator. It's as close to a smartphone as you can get without getting a smartphone.
The biggest problem I've had is the touch key. When you brush your finger against it, it'll reject the call. I can't tell you how many times I've reach into my pocket to get a call, only to accidentally "touch" the reject call button. It's just a poor design.
Another issue I've had is the sound quality -- frankly it's just not that clear. Lastly, the battery life is pretty bad for a phone like this. I charge it every night, and barley get through the day on little use.Was this review helpful to you?
34 out of 37 people found this review helpful.
October 25, 2012
Decent Phone, Watch the Rejected Calls
I was a bit worried about buying this phone. I haven't had the best experience with Pantech. But after taking the plunge, and using it for a month or so, I can say I'm pretty happy with my purchase. If you want a smartphone, but don't want to pay the charges that come with a smartphone -- ie. a data plan -- then this is the phone for you.
You can go online and surf the Web, look up sports scores, check e-mail -- all on 3G speeds. The touch screen is decent too. But best of all, it's a great price.
I'm not that big on texting or talking, so the battery will last me a few days. The reception is pretty good where I live too and I haven't had issues with dropped calls. It has a great suite of basics so if you don't need all those bells and whistles, it should suit you fine.
The bad is the touch buttons. It's really easy to reject calls while trying to pull the phone from a pocket. I fixed this by just turning the phone so it faces towards me. I'm careful to grab the back of the phone when I pull it out now. But just something to be aware of.Was this review helpful to you?
30 out of 33 people found this review helpful.
November 09, 2012
Great If You're Allergic to Data Plans
For anyone who texts a lot, this is a great phone -- though you can't send pictures. I've had this phone for a few weeks now, and I'm pretty satisfied.
The battery life isn't the greatest, so expect to charge the phone at least once a day if you're a heavy user. The touch screen is pretty good.
It's a good non-smartphone for anyone who wants to avoid a data plan. For $10 a month, I'm a happy customer.Was this review helpful to you?
15 out of 20 people found this review helpful.
February 06, 2013
it did right by me
i love the camera despite the bad reviews. I upgraded from a pantech link 2 so a whole mega pixel is awesome.
i love the slide out keys.
the music player is a nice plus.
and the usability of the phone is awesome, very easy for a fist time user.
i am a little disappointed in the battery life. I am a heavy user and it dies quite fast. other than that I don't have anything bad to say.Was this review helpful to you?
0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.
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