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Pantech Link Mobile Phone Review

on April 23, 2010 2:44 pm

A multitude of messaging mobile phones were launched in 2009, and the trend appears to be continuing in 2010.  The recently-release Pantech Link offered through AT&T is one such device (see Press Release here).  It is a new handset with nice hardware for a great price.  Let’s dig in.

NOTE: Click any image below to enlarge

Background

In the interest of full disclosure and to establish a baseline, my perspective is shaped by currently being a very happy iPhone 3GS user.  I am also a former BlackBerry Curve user and was happy with that device as well prior to getting the iPhone 3GS.  The iPhone 3GS is used for size comparison purposes in the images below.

Inside the Box

The box itself is relatively small and compact, which is nice for both eco-friendliness and if you are inclined to save it for storage.

Box contents:

  • Pantech Link mobile phone
  • AC wall charging adapter
  • User Guide
  • Quick Start Guide

Hardware Specs

  • Display – 2.4-in, 262k color TFT LCD display, 320×240 resolution, 5 lines for text in basic
  • Input – Two soft keys and four-way scroll and selection “OK” keys
  • Weight – 91 g (3.2 oz) w/ standard battery
  • Dimensions – 4.5″ x 2.4″ x 0.39″
  • Memory – Internal 80 Mb, expandable to 32 Gb with microSD (not included)
  • Battery Type – Standard Lithium-Ion (Li-ion), 920 mAh capacity, Minimum Standby Time 10 days (250 hrs), Minimum Talk Time 3 hrs
  • Operating Frequency – GPRS/EDGE Quad-Band, UMTS/HSDPA Dual-Band; GSM

Software and Apps

A basic list of on board software and apps is below, but for a more comprehensive list, check the Link info on the Pantech and AT&T sites.

  • Mobile Email – through Gmail, Yahoo! and others
  • Messaging – Instant messaging including text/picture/video
  • Address Book with 1,000 contacts – syncs with online AT&T Address Book
  • Mobile Web browser
  • Mobile Share through AT&T Online Locker
  • AT&T Navigator – GPS
  • AT&T Social Net
  • AT&T Mobile Music player plus downloads via Napster and eMusic
  • Multitasking voice and data
  • Bluetooth support
  • AppCenter – download apps through AT&T
  • YPMobile – yellow pages
  • Tools: alarm clock, calendar, notepad, voice memo, calculator, tasks, stopwatch, unit converter and more

The Hardware

The hardware of the Link is actually quite impressive.  As can be seen from the images, it is a BlackBerry-style “QWERTY bar” design with a physical keyboard.  To me, it resembles the Nokia E71 series or possibly the Samsung Jack.  What struck me immediately was how thin and lightweight the Link is, yet with a fairly solid heft that prevents it from feeling “cheap”.

Front/Face

The face of the Link has a rather sophisticated black color scheme, with dark metallic accents and white and blue on the keys.  It has the metallic bezel made popular by the iPhone, this one in a darkened metal finish.  The display is quite nice, with good color and resolution.  The input array consists of a six dedicated keys, a rocker disk with center button and the full QWERTY keyboard.  When the rocker disk is used, a ring around it glows blue–a nice touch.  All have a nice feel and provide a soft click for tactile feedback.  The keys are all hard, not soft, similar to the BlackBerry Curve, but a bit more compact together, yet not unusable.

Sides

As can be seen from the images, the thickness of the Link is actually quite impressive.  It is every bit as thin as the iPhone 3GS, quite a bit thicker than most of the current BlackBerry devices.  Along the perimeter of the Link and at the very bottom of the keyboard runs a band of very dark (almost black) blue metallic.  Light has to hit it just right in order to notice it.  Very subdued.

Along the right side near the top  is a pop-out cover for the charge/headphone jack port.  Though I like the idea of built-in port protection, I’m not a big fan of these pop-off covers, because they are time-consuming and can be difficult to open and close, and they invariably break off anyway.  I am also not a fan of non-USB connectors on these device, and also not having a standard mini-3.5mm jack is a big negative to me. Lower down along the right side is camera shutter button.  Along the left side near the top is the volume rocker, and slightly below that is another pop-off cover that is begging to be broken off, this one to protect the microSD slot.  Finally, the upper left corner has a through hole so that a lanyard, charm, etc can be attached.

Rear/Back

The back of the device is plastic in an all-flat-black color scheme, with the vast majority of it covered by a tiny diamond pattern.  Also, there is a rounded edge around the perimeter of the back.  Both the diamond pattern and the rounded edge have a slightly rubberized feel to them, with the rounded edge feeling slightly more so, presumably to give some texture for gripping.  Roughly the bottom half of the back is a removable panel to access the battery and the SIM card, and I had no difficulty with removing/replacing battery, SIM or the access panel itself (see image below).  The camera lens is mounted in the top center of the back (see image below).  The lens itself is surrounded by a small blue ring in keeping with the Link’s color scheme, just above it is a tiny concave mirror for self-portraits, a feature I wish was present on my iPhone 3GS.  Just to the right of the camera is the speakerphone grille, consisting of a hex-shaped pattern of holes.

Camera

The 1.3MP camera takes pictures that are acceptable for a quick shot here and there, but not much more than that.  There are actually several settings that the user can configure, which is unexpected, but they don’t seem to help the overall picture quality much.  The settings consist of: Integrated 1.3 M CMOS Camera, Resolution up to 1280×1024 (1,310,720 pixels), Mpeg4 Video recording/playing up to 15f/s (QVGA size), 5 or 10 second self-timer function, Photo album and video album; Customizable Resolution, Brightness, White Balance, Color Effects, Quality, Self-Timer.

Battery

Battery life seems quite good for this phone.  I charged it for about 7 hours out of the box, and it has held a charge under regular (but not constant) use for over four days and is still going.  I suspect that this is mainly because the screen is relatively small and doesn’t require as much power.

Voice and Data Performance

I pulled the SIM card out of my iPhone 3GS and placed it into the Link, so that I could test out the Link on the AT&T network.  The voice network was performance was comparable to that of my iPhone 3GS, with a similar amount of difficulty in connecting and dropped calls, so this this may be the AT&T network itself.  However, the actual call quality was slightly less clear than the iPhone.

Data Connection Performance

The data connection on this device is through AT&T’s 3G network, reverting to Edge when 3G is not available.  I found that the Link seems to pick up and hold the 3G connection with virtually the same frequency and solidity as my iPhone 3GS.  However, the speed of the 3G connection seems a bit slower than my iPhone 3GS.  I am unsure if this is due to the processing speed of the data connection itself, or because the overall speed of the operating system is contributing.  It resulted in anything from an annoying split-second delay in launching an app  a several-second wait to upload/download data from the network.

Software

The operating system of this phone is a step up from a standard mobile phone, but does not have the capabilities of a true smartphone OS such as webOS, iPhone,  Android or even BlackBerry.  I found it to be relatively comparable to the BlackBerry OS in navigation and  appearance, but not in capability.  The AT&T AppCenter was a bit cumbersome to navigate.  Having said all this, I found the selection of on board apps and utilities to be quite impressive in a phone of this price range.

Final Thoughts

In the category of mid-level smartphones, the Pantech Link is an overachiever in its hardware, with its styling and feel, and is average in most everything else.  I was pleasantly surprised with the on board app selection in a phone of this type, but the speed of the OS and data connection and AT&T’s nickel-and-diming on data-based features tend to bring it down.  Overall however, I would characterize this phone as great buy for the AT&T’s currently offered price of $9.99 with a new 2-year contract.

 

Product Information

Price:through AT&T: $9.99 w/ rebate ($39.99 w/ 2yr contract, $159.99 no commitment)
Manufacturer:Pantech
Pros:
  • Hardware: thin, lightweight, solid & looks great
  • Quite a few software/app features
Cons:
  • hesitates when launch apps or interfacing with web
  • no 3.5mm headphone jack
  • no USB-type charge/data connection

Comments

  1. 1
    Julie says:

    I like Pantech’s hardware. Starting with the good old Palm Treo, I’m still a fan of QWERTY candybar style phones like this one.

  2. 2
    Brandon says:

    This is absolutly the WORST phone I have ever owned! DO NOT BUY!! It freezes constantly. It has a low text memory. you have to empty your Inbox almost everyday or it freezes up. And even in the process of emptying it may still freeze and you have to removed the battery. The internet rarely ever works. I’m sitting at home with all my bars and 3G and still won’t connect to the internet. Save your money for a phone that works like it should.

  3. 3
    Brittany says:

    Brandon, you’ve copy and pasted that same spiel about the phone sucking in many website reviews of this phone. I have a hard time believing you. I think you got paid to write that comment everywhere.

    I just bought (and have yet to receive) the Link so I’m excited about it. I have owned a windows touch phone before and hated it so I went to a cheapy $20 gophone (candybar style basic phone). I’m looking now for a texting phone as I text more than I talk. I’m hoping this phone will be a great replacement. :)

  4. 4
    Sal says:

    I really don’t know what he’s talking about problems with the phone. I really wanted the Samsung Focus but because all the extra data charges I really didn’t want to pay more for services i really dont need. I thougt I was settling for something I didn’t want but I’m very satified it was more than i expected it types really well and the basic functions work well. Who watches TV on a cell phone really, the web, and are we that bored we need to check our facebook stats come on get a life. I had a friend come over to see me that I haven’t seen for while he couldn’t get off the phone I would’ve had a better conversation if i had called him on the phone.

  5. 5
    every chance says:

    The Pantech Link is awesome to me. I have a Blackberry Torch and sometimes that Torch gets on my nerves because of its sensitivity…I actually use the Link more than the Torch. The Link’s internet on 3g is fast enough for me and the texting with pic and vid inserts is pretty good. Would like to insert emoticons. Anyone know of any apps? The Link is an A in my book for quick messaging and social network surfing!

  6. 6
    bri says:

    heyyy im getting this fone soon and would like to knoe some of these question:
    1. is it a good phone
    2. how many bars does it have lik the battery bars
    3. does it freezes idc about the iternet soo i mean other stuff
    4. for ur inbox how many messages can it hold up 2 before deleteing
    thnxzz i really want this fone and will get it in 3 months

  7. 7
    Paul says:

    The Pantech Link is the best phone for the money I have ever received. I got the phone for free through AT&T and love it. I get better 3G internet than my brothers android powered phone. I especially like the calender app it is great for keeping up with many appointments. Its calender will let you know at different intervals. Anyhow great phone.

  8. 8
    Lauren says:

    I have the Pantech Link right now and it is the WORST PHONE I HAVE EVER USED!!!!!! It freezes every time i turn it on so I have to turn it off again. It turns on and off on its own. My pictures, videos, and downloaded ringtones were all deleted and I had iver 300 pictures!!!! DO NOT GET THIS PHONE IT IS AWFUL!!!!!

  9. 9
    every chance says:

    Please, this is a great quick messenging phone! The photos and videos are good also. It has a music player, bluetooth and all the quirks. The secret to this phone is that if you download PC suite from the Pantech.com site you will be able to get internet from this 3g phone with a data cord plugged into your laptop. I am working in an area where there is no wifi. This phone is an answer to internet prayer. I love this phone forever! I also own a Samsung Infuse but this phone by far links me to the free world!

  10. 10
    anthony says:

    This phone is just fine for the price. It has more features and is easier to use than other phones in the same range. No complaints here. Good call quality and perfect for texting.

  11. 11
    Oni_brandon says:

    I wish I was getting paid for the review. I took the phone to the AT&T store to see if there was a problem with the phone. They ran test on the phone but said there were no problems. I was told that the Link just does not have a large memory for texts, but they could not explain the phone freezing.

  12. 12
    somebodyy says:

    Ummm this phone sucks,, it freezes all the time so i have to take out the battery ,, and the middle row of the keyboard never works .

  13. 13
    Aliya says:

    I bought the Pantech Link about a year ago and have been extremely happy with is. Havent had any problems with it what so ever. I have never had it freeze but it has lagged a little bit here and here.

  14. 14
    Shayna says:

    This phone is great.I dont have any problems with it.My batterys good, it never freezes, good memory….i love it…(:

  15. 15
    LK says:

    I pay extra on the pantech link II for internet and email. I like it fine for that but I can’t tell when I am receiving an email. No sound or anything. I set it up to have a ring tone for text messages but can’t do it for email. Does anyone have an answer for me. Very inconvenient. I like it a lot other than that one issue. Thanks, LK

  16. 16
    Kathy says:

    Doea any one know if you can download e book app on this phone & if so which one will work

  17. 17
    *KA says:

    i just got the Pantech Link 2 today..the *first message i recieved on it came through my phone at least 40 times. my mom took a look at it..said she fixed it. just a few mins ago,i tried again. and it did the exact same thing. anybody have *ANY idea whats wrong with it?,&has it happened to any one else?

  18. 18
    lisa says:

    Can you access the Internet using a wireless home network instead of the at&t 3g? If so how?

  19. 19
    Stacy says:

    I had the sanding flight II.. Absolutely hated that phone.my sister broke my phone and my upgrade wasn’t for another year and a half.. I saw this phone and wanted it, It holds over 200messages for me. Does not go slow, charges very fast and stays charged.this phone was worth the 50dollars! And for 9more I put the 18 month warranty on it, so it’s a great deal. Its good for texting! I don’t use it for internet so I couldn’t tell ya about that, but This phone isn’t a smartphone so it’s not suppost to be all that great on the internet.. This phone dosnt have anything bad about it, I’m 13 and works great for me! I don’t drop it, I treat it very good, and it works perfect…. Maybe you guys need to take care of your phones, maybe then they’d work better?….. That’s a solution.

  20. 20
    Pearl says:

    this phone is the worst phone i have ever in my life owned…i bought it brand new and have had it for just a few months and it will not send text messages or download or send multimedia. I can receive texts. It freezes up, deletes my messages without having the automatic delete on, shuts itself off all the time. I sometimes get a screen that comes up and say sent successfully to blank….instead of saying the persons name and turns out it did NOT successfully send to anyone….i could go on and on about the problems with this phone but in short i would NOT recommend this phone to anyone EVER

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