Pantech Flex Smartphone Review (Part 1)

6/21/2013 9:13:00 AM

Pantech is famous for its budget Android smartphone, and Flex is not an exception. Available on AT&T for $50 with a 2-year contract, it offers dual-core Snapdragon chipset – similar to that in Galaxy S III and One X – along with qHD screen and LTE connectivity. Of course, the phone is suitable for deal hunters but there’s something distinguish Flex from other smartphones on the market: it has two faces.

Guys, recall the memories about At Ease, Microsoft Bob and Packard Bell Navigator. Pantech Flex has a unique launcher called Easy Experience, serving those looking up to ICS too much. Fortunately, there’s another standard launcher for professionals. From that aspect, Flex deserves its fame. Unlike most phones in the market, it aims at low-budget students and tech lovers. Of course, we are here to answer a bigger question: Does Pantech deserve being your next smartphone? Let’s find out.

AT&T Pantech Flex

AT&T Pantech Flex


We talked a bit about Pantech’s interior but now’s time to discover everything. The smartphone has Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 SoC MSM8960 which incorporates dual-core Krait CPU 1.5GHz, Adreno 225 GPU and many connection options. It includes LTE support through bands: 700, 850, 1700/AWS and 1900MHz, along with HSPA+ for 850, 1900 and 2100MHz. When visiting countryside, you have access to 4 bands. However, remember to unlock Flex to get out of AT&T’s coverage, and due to that, the phone will be considered by T-Mobile subscribers in the US in where the provider uses 1900MHz for 3G access. As you may expect, the phone offers 802.11a/b/g/n and Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS and GLONASS. Sadly, Flex lacks NF, meaning there’s no support for Android Beam or NFC-based payment system like Google Wallet or Isis.



While Pantech is clearly a cheap smartphone, the 4.3in qHD (960x540) display is among the best of its segment. It offers excellent touch-sensitivity, great viewing angle and medium-high resolution. Though separate pixel are more tightly packed than WVGA (800x480) options, the Super AMOLED screen has PenTile matrix, making texts a little blurred. Rationally, Super AMOLED’s advantages include deep black, increased saturation and better vividness. Unfortunately, the screen is not ideal for use under direct sunlight. Note that if you not a fan of AMOLED, LG Escape (AT&T, $50) offers a similar 4.3in qHD display though with IPS panel for better sharpness.

Pantech Flex appears at AT&T as a natural successor for Burst. While its big brother had succeeded in bringing dual-core processing and LTE speed to the crowd, the thick plastic layer makes it hard to avoid the cheap status. From the view, it’s easy to understand what Pantech is hoping this time. With Flex, Pantech gets rid of the completely plastic layer to make room for a more industrial design having the mix of metal and plastic details. It is also bigger and slimmer than before, with the size of 130x66x8 mm.

Flex’s design is best described as messy – imagine if Samsung Focus and Droid Incredible 2 arranged a regretful night date. Above all, its design is uneven and lacks of unity. Both volume rocker and power button have rough details, helping you to identify buttons with feeling easier. Unfortunately, this smart moves are turned down by the power button’s low-appreciated position: in the middle on the right. Right-handed people will see their thumbs cover the bare USB port naturally, where the power button should be. It not only makes it hard to wake up or put the device into sleep but also means that micro-USB port will collect your hand’s sweat. This may lead to hardware issue. It may not be a problem for the left-handed but the majority will hate the layout. As there’s no status light, pitifully, yet it is a small sacrifice.

The device’s side view

The device’s side view

One of our complaints about Pantech is that the capacitive buttons are not so sensitive. This time, that’s not a problem as Flex’s navigation buttons are totally software-based – like of Galaxy Nexus. The final result is more compact body than before. However, if Flex win this game it loses another one. In this case, that is the prominent edge around the screen. No word needed, it creates an anxious feeling every time when the thumb touches over the rough edge, and your only hope is that you will finally smoothen the plastic to make its level the same as the screen’s one – however, until then you may find a new smartphone.

Removing Flex’s back is quite easy, which is a good thing, according to that the phone will partly sold to the elder. Below, you will see 1830mAh battery, beside micro-SIM and micro-SD slot. The phone includes 1GB of RAM, along with 8GB storage (5.5GB available). Environment-concerned customers should bear in mind that Flex stays at a pretty low level on AT&T sturdiness benchmark: 2/5.

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