The Good The Pantech Ease has a beautiful capacitive touch screen display and a solid QWERTY slider. It has two modes: Easy mode is cleverly designed for newcomers to cell phones and the elderly; experienced users will like a 2MP camera, music player and 3G speed. The call quality is superb thanks to the noise cancellation technology.
The Bad We understand the need to separate different features for light and advanced modes, but sometimes we find that categorization is arbitrary. For example, tablet and pedometer reminders are not available in Advanced mode and Notepad and Stopwatch are not in Simple mode.
The Bottom Line Despite the fact that we have a few tricks, Pantech Ease is generally a smart hybrid that will please both grandparents and grandchildren.
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There are phones, such as the Jitterbug J and the DoroPhoneEasy 410, specifically designed for the elderly, but there are also super-simple phones that can be considered comfortable for seniors. The Pantech Breeze and the Breeze II For example, they are really easy to use, with large fonts as well as large buttons. Pantech continues this trend with Pantech Ease, which promises to be the most comfortable touch screen phone on the market.
While we think you need some technological savvy to work with your phone, we agree that it is an extremely simple phone to navigate and use. If you are tired of the very simple Easy mode, you can also turn on Advanced mode for a more customized experience. Specialized features such as a pedometer, reading mode, voice mode and tablet reminders add to the appeal for the whole family. Pantech Ease is available for $ 69.99 from AT&T Wireless .
The Pantech Ease has the usual look of most touch screen phones, with a long oval front and a QWERTY horizontal keyboard. However, we find it a bit more attractive than most because of its ergonomic and stylish design. Measuring 4.48 inches wide by 2.28 inches wide by 0.56 inches wide, the Ease is very similar to an elongated chase. It has a nice sports strap along the border, and the rounded corners and textured back strap give the phone a solid and robust feel in the hand. The lightness is quite heavy – 4.86 ounces.
Pantech Ease has a large 3.2-inch capacitive display.
One of the highlights of the Ease is its 3.2-inch QVGA display. It has beautifully colorful and colorful graphics with 262,000 color support and a resolution of 240×400 pixels. We also like that you can increase the font size to Very Large, which is great for those who have poor eyesight. You can adjust the time of illumination, the brightness, the color of the menu theme, the background lock screen graphics and, of course, the wallpaper.
Ease has two different interfaces: Easy mode and Advanced mode. Easy mode is easy to lay out; you only get one home screen and at the bottom of the home screen you only get two shortcuts, one to dial the phone number and one to the main menu. The main menu is presented in a direct list format, and we think that the font will be larger as well. Some features of the phone, such as the mobile music app, instant messaging, mobile video, and most social media applications, such as Facebook and MySpace, are not available in the Easy Mode menu.
It seems that Easy mode is not enough, but the advantage of this basic interface is that using the phone is incredibly simple and intuitive. We can see beginners with touch screens lifting the phone and know how to use it simply by tapping around.
As for the advanced mode, it has an interface that is exactly identical to the view. You get three different home screens, two of which you can customize – one for your favorite apps and one for your favorite contacts. The bottom row of the home screen contains shortcuts to your phone number, contact list, message box, and main menu. The main menu is in a slightly more sophisticated grid style.
Another great feature of the touch screen is that it is capacitive, which means a very fast and responsive display. Indeed, we were able to browse through the menus and lists almost without hesitation. You also don’t need a calibration wizard, because pushing your fingers is exactly what is right off the bat. You could also add touch feedback with vibration and sound and adjust the volume and volume of each, but we didn’t find it absolutely necessary.
The Virtual Dialer has a large number of keyboards with a spacious number display area, and it has shortcuts to contacts and recent call history. You can use the T9 keyboard for text messages for free, but we prefer to use the physical keyboard. In fact, if you are in Easy mode, the phone forces you to open the slider of the phone to type a message.
When you open your phone open, the display changes from portrait to landscape mode. In Easy mode, this will immediately provide you with message-related options – new text messaging, messaging, mobile email and more – while Advanced mode adds social networking options like Facebook. The sliding mechanism feels really sturdy and we like how it firmly gets in place.
The Pantech Ease has a slide-out QWERTY keyboard.
Of course, you also find the aforementioned physical keyboard when you open your phone. It is a four-line QWERTY keyboard and the numeric keys are highlighted in orange. You get the standard function and character keys, and we appreciate the inclusion of custom zoom and zoom keys to facilitate web navigation. The overall keyboard is very spacious, with the keys raised high enough to give you a feeling. However, the keys may be slightly larger if the Ease really is comfortable for the older phone.
Below the screen are three physical keys: a call key, a shortcut key, and an end / power key. The back panel, below the bottom selection key, has a Back key. Although these keys felt quite easy to press, we found them to be quite small and crowded at the far end of the phone. The shortcut key displays a release box that displays shortcuts to voicemail and up to three contacts.
The volume keys sit on the left spine along with the charger socket; the camera key, the voice command key, and the screen switch to the right. The camera lens is on the back. The microSD card slot is located behind the battery cover. The charger socket performs a dual duty as a headset jack, since there is no 3.5mm or 2.5mm headset jack.
Pantech Ease has a phone book for 1000 records with a number in each entry of six numbers, three email addresses, company name, instant messaging ID, web address, three street addresses, date of birth, anniversary date, note and photo for ID subscriber. As expected, you can also assign contacts to groups of subscribers, associate them with speed dial numbers, and customize them to any of seven preset ringtones and nine notification tones.
In both Easy and Advanced modes, features include the vibrate mode, a speakerphone, a calendar, an alarm clock, a calculator, a tip calculator, text and multimedia messaging, voice command, Bluetooth, GPS with AT&T Navigator, the att.net HTML Web browser, AT&T’s mobile e-mail, and access to AT&T Address Book, which lets you backup your contacts list on AT&T’s servers. The att.net mobile Web browser is based on Opera and lets you view full HTML pages, and AT&T’s Mobile Email solution lets you send and receive e-mail via a browser-based app.
You also get a read mode that you can configure to ring for incoming calls, messages and voicemail, and even read aloud text messages. It sounds great on the surface, but we found the voice too mechanical to really understand what he was saying, especially since we couldn’t make him slow down.
Interestingly, Easy mode has two features that are not available in advanced mode – the pedometer and the tablet reminder – both seemingly designed specifically for the elderly. We understand how tablet reminders can fit this demographic, but we believe that the pedometer app should be accessible for both easy and advanced modes. Both apps work quite well – we especially like that you can minimize the pedometer app so that it runs in the background and a small step counter appears on the home screen.
When you flip over to Advanced mode, you will finally get access to certain features and apps like the notepad, the sketchpad, world time, a unit converter, a stopwatch, a timer, the voice memo recorder, AT&T Mobile Video, AT&T Mobile Music , AT&T Social Net, Facebook, MySpace, instant messenger, and location-based apps like Where and Loopt. We understand not including more-complicated apps like the music player in Easy mode, but we don’t quite get why simpler apps like the notepad didn’t make it.
The Ease comes with 3G speeds, which gives it access to the aforementioned AT&T broadband services; Mobile Video is a streaming-video service, and Mobile Music acts as a hub for the music player, the Napster/eMusic store, and a slew of music-related services. The music player is similar to other Pantech phones; the songs are categorized into albums, artists, and genres and you can create and edit playlists on the fly. Player settings also include the usual player controls and repeat and shuffle modes. You can also minimize and send the music player to the background. The phone has 50MB of internal memory, but you can bump that up easily with a microSD card. Up to 16GB cards are accepted.
The Pantech Ease has a 2MP rear camera.
The 2 megapixel Ease camera can take pictures in five different resolutions and three quality settings. Other settings include brightness, self-timer, shutter sound switch and timer mute, four color effects, six white balance presets and geotag. You also get a 7x increase until you have the highest resolution. In advanced mode, the camera has additional special effects features that include smile detection, self-portrait or face detection, wink detection, face effect and panorama. In Smile, Self-Portrait and Wink Detection, the camera automatically beeps and focuses on your face to prompt you to take a photo (there is a timer mode when winks are detected). Face is an unusual feature that has up to 11 different ways of framing your face – they include “blur”, “fisheye”, “big head” and more.
Pantech Ease makes good photos.
The quality of the photos was pretty good. We liked the crisp image quality, and the color accuracy was pretty good. Ease also has a camcorder that can record MPEG4 video at 176×144 pixels or 320×240 pixels video resolution, and it can play back up to 15 frames per second. You can send the video as an MMS (176×144 pixels resolution) or save it for longer storage. You can also share videos via AT&T’s Video Share service.
Personalization options are plentiful with the Ease; you can customize the wallpaper and ringtones by downloading them from the AT&T AppCenter or by creating your own. As for games and apps, the Ease comes with AllSport GPS, Maps, Mobile Banking, MobiTV, My-Cast Weather, Pocket Express, WikiMobile, Bejeweled, Midnight Bowling 2, Ms. Pac-Man, The Sims 3, and World Series of Poker, but you can download more via the AppCenter as well.
We tested the Pantech Ease in San Francisco using AT&T Wireless. We were pleased with the call quality on the whole. On our end, we heard our callers with plenty of volume and superb clarity. There was still a bit of static, but it was a mild hiss and nothing too distracting.
Pantech promises a technology called Dynamic Noise Suppression with Ease, and it was obvious when we asked our subscribers how we sounded. They said we sounded very smooth and clear, even when talking from a busy mall. They still found a bit of background noise, but it wasn’t annoying. Although no calls were made from the speakers; The callers reported a lot more echoes and mutes, but we could still talk.
3G speed was adequate. We downloaded the CNET homepage in about 30 seconds and downloaded the song 1.8 MB in 48 seconds. We also experienced some time buffering with mobile video. However, the video quality was still quite demanding and pixelated.
Pantech Ease is compatible with HAC and M3 / T4 hearing aids. Has an estimated battery life of 5 hours of talk time and 15 days of standby time. Our tests showed a talk time of 6 hours and 1 minute. According to FCC radiation tests, it has a digital SAR of 0.537 watts per kilogram.