Cell phones aren't the most eco-friendly gadgets. But then again, what gadget is? They're made of complex plastics and metals, not to mention those hazardous internal components, the dyes and packing supplies and that energy-sucking charger. In fact, you probably use your phone more than any device though the day -- and that all adds up to a sizable carbon footprint.
If you're trying to save the world, you can't just stop carrying a phone, can you? What do you do then? Well, you can pick up a Pantech Renue. It's an eco-friendly phone that's made of 67 percent recyclable and hazard-free materials. It's also as equally kind to your wallet as it is to the environment.
But basically, all it can do is call and text -- it's not a smartphone. But that means you don't have to sign up with a data plan, either. Now, I don't really recommend it -- the screen is gritty, the camera is shoddy and the battery is weak -- but it comes with a decent keyboard. So if you're keen on being green and you love to text, maybe it's the phone for you.
What's the Phone?
I prefer sleek and elegant to short and stocky, but you can call it cute and pudgy. It has a similar shape and size to the Pocket, but it's a bit more rounded for easy one-hand use. The front is a mix of glossy and matte plastic and a textured back cover gives you a rubbery, grippy finish. It's not sexy by any means, but it's not bad, either.
At first, the 3.2-inch display seems too small, but Pantech did a good job making it finger friendly. Colors are vibrant and true-to-life, but the 320-by-240 resolution is fuzzy at best and hard-to-read at worst. If you love Impressionism, you'll love the graininess. And that's fine for texting; just don't think about watching videos.
Meanwhile, the four-row keyboard is on the small side, but if you have small hands, it's not too bad. Each button has an oblong shape with a bright blue accent, and generally, the QWERTY is well-spaced and easy to press. The keys are a bit flat, though, which slowed down my typing, but I got used to it after a few days. One note: I love the threaded messages. It gives texts a back-and-forth conversation feel.
The 3-megapixel camera, however, stops short of unusable. Unless you're taking pristine pictures of inanimate objects, photos tend to turn out dark, blurry and full of noise. There's no flash, no auto-focus and no chance of a shot if you're in low light. Video recording isn't much better. The shutter is fast, though, but you have to wait a bit as it saves each photo.
The music player is by far the best feature. You can play AAC, MP3 and WMA files, and they all sound great. Just plug in your own headphones to the 3.5-millimeter jack. You can also view album art and adjust equalizer settings.
Instead of a real operating system, it runs a simple interface. You can customize five homescreens -- one for bookmarks, another for contacts, for example, and add shortcuts and rearrange icons to your liking. It's all pretty basic.
It runs on AT&T's 3G network, rather than its faster 3.5G or 4G LTE service. But the bigger issue is the lack of Wi-Fi. That means if you check e-mail or browse the Web, you'll gobble up expensive data, so try not to go online. If you must, you're better off buying a smartphone -- it's more expensive up-front, but cheaper in the long run. And you get an operating system and apps.
That said, if you go online, the Opera Mini browser is simple. But the grainy display makes viewing webpages more of a hassle than it's worth. There's an e-mail app to connect you to Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo and AOL, among other services, though.
Call quality is average and clarity is good, but the max volume is a bit on the low side. It's hard to hear in noisy environments, but otherwise voices sound fine when it's quiet.
The Renue comes with a minuscule 190-megabytes of storage, which you can beef up with a microSD card. But unless you plan to listen to music, you won't need one, since there's not much to save. The 1,000 mAh battery is average too, lasting around five hours for talk and a day on standby.
You'll Want It If...
You like to text and you want to save the environment. That's basically all it's good for. If you want to do more than call and text, you're pretty much out of luck without an operating system and a data plan.
It's Not My Thing -- What Else Ya Got?
If you use the Internet, AT&T will tack on expensive fees, making it an overpriced feature phone. So unless you're deeply connected to its eco-friendly design, skip it. As an alternative, check out Samsung's Evergreen. It's made of 80 percent eco-materials, but more importantly, it comes with a better display. ♦
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?
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?
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?
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?
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