The Good The Pantech Crossover has a bright screen, a roomy physical keyboard, decent photo quality, and a good set of connectivity features that includes 3G, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi.
The Bad The Pantech crossover has a fairly small screen for web browsing or video, and the call quality is ambiguous.
The Bottom Line The Pantech Crossover is a well-built entry-level Android smartphone for AT&T customers who want a physical keyboard.
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Pantech has certainly come a long way. From the tiny C300 to the double slider Helio Ocean , Pantech was mostly known as a maker of feature phones in the US, so we were very surprised to see the Pantech crossover, the first ever Android phone company in the US market. Of course, previously the Korean company released several Android phones, but only in their home region. The crossover is an entry-level handset, while its Asian cousins are definitely higher-end.
The Crossover is so named because it’s designed as a “crossover” product between a feature phone and a smartphone. Features are fairly basic, like a 3-megapixel camera without a flash, and it only has a 3.1-inch screen. It also ships with only Android 2.2. However, it’s one of the few Android phones for AT&T to have a physical keyboard–the others are the Motorola Flipside and Motorola Flipout. As long as you don’t set your expectations too high, Crossover creates a decent smartphone for beginners.
If Pantech wanted to provide a smartphone in a suite of feature phones, it was successful with Crossover. Indeed, it looks and feels like a multitude of messaging phones with black color scheme and plastic design. Still, it doesn’t look too bad. Measuring 4.45 inches wide by 2.28 inches wide by 0.56 inches wide, the crossover is thin enough for a slider, and the angular corners add visual interest to the otherwise boring design of the phone.
The Pantech crossover has a fairly small 3.1-inch display.
Pantech says the crossover is “solid,” but that statement is unconfirmed. So while the Crossover has rubberized corners and a textured backrest, it won’t survive the beating just like a real military certified phone like Casio G’zOne Commando b. However, textured surfaces can improve traction, so hopefully you won’t lower it as often.
In our opinion, the smallest touch screen size for the phone is around 3.5 inches, so the 3.1-inch Crossover screen has narrowed our limits a bit. The display has a HVGA resolution of 320×480 pixels and 262,000 colors, resulting in crisp graphics and text, but everything seemed much more tiny. It certainly made us wish we could at least increase the font size on the menu. This is not a phone for those who have low vision. Plus, you need to scroll through the web pages.
However, the touch screen felt quite responsive. There was no hesitation when we ran five home screens of the phone and it took less than half a second to run the applications. We noticed the slightest hesitation when scrolling through long lists, but that didn’t bother us much. The phone also has a built-in proximity sensor and accelerometer.
Below the screen are the usual Android shortcuts – the Back and Search functions are touch, while the Menu and Home functions are in the form of physical buttons. There are two shoulder buttons at the top of the phone, one of which is the power / screen lock key and the other is a function key that displays a shortcut list. The volume rocker is on the left and the Micro-USB port and the camera key are on the right.
The crossover comes with Swype as a virtual on-screen keyboard, and you have the choice of a multi-touch Android keyboard by default if you wish. But because the screen to our taste is small, we really appreciate the fact that the crossover has a sliding QWERTY keyboard. Just slide the display to the right and you will open it – the display will shift from portrait to landscape mode.
The keyboard has four rows in which the letters divide the space by numbers and commonly used characters. The bottom row of the keyboard has the usual Alt and Shift keys, plus a large space. On the right, there is also a handy navigation bar for navigation if you do not like to use the touch screen. The keyboard is very spacious. Although it looks a little flat, the keys are actually separated and raised above the surface, so it was easy for us to type in the feeling.
On the back of the phone is a 3 megapixel camera with no flash or self-portrait mirror. A microSD card is available if you remove the battery cover.
Interface and applications
The Pantech crossover comes with Android 2.2.1, without promising that it will be upgraded to 2.3 in the future. However, for the entry-level smartphone, we are pleased with the fact that it offers Android 2.2. You get the usual benefits of Android, such as access to Google services like Gmail, Google Maps Navigation, Google Search and YouTube.
Pantech didn’t really add much to the Android default interface. The four static icons on the home screen have a slightly different design and are arranged in a simple row. They consist of a phone dialer, messaging menu, browser, and main menu. There is also a unique lock screen that asks you to “remove” the sticker to unlock your phone, and you can add a widget to the home screen that functions as a digital counter of all messages, emails and phone calls you missed.
Some of the apps that are preloaded on the Crossover include a unit converter, a data manager, a document viewer, Facebook, Twitter, Stocks, S-board (an app for sharing information in a group), YPMobile, Allsport GPS, and SketchPad. AT&T included a few of its own as well, like AT&T Code Scanner, AT&T Family Map, AT&T Mark the Spot, AT&T Navigator, and Live TV, AT&T’s U-verse application that lets you watch live television and on-demand video if you happen to be a U-Verse customer. You can remove some but not all of the preloaded apps.
The crossover has all the typical smartphone features we’ve come to expect from Android. They include GPS, A2DP stereo-enabled Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. It also has mobile hotspot support for up to five Wi-Fi enabled devices, although it costs an additional $ 20 a month for this feature. You won’t get fancy 4G speeds here, but 3G is good enough for an entry-level phone.
Other features include speakerphone, speed dial, voice commands, conference calls, as well as text and multimedia messages. Several other standard applications include sound recording, weather application, RSS feeder and, of course, an Android web browser. If you choose not to use Gmail, the crossover also supports other email platforms, such as POP3 and IMAP.
The Pantech crossover makes decent shots for a 3MP camera.
The crossover has rudimentary multimedia features like a regular Android music player and a fairly basic 3MP camera. Camera settings include four different resolutions, shutter sound switching, three focus modes (auto, infinity and macro), white balance, filters, self-timer, multi-shot modes, brightness and zoom. Image quality is not bad for a 3MP camera. Although we would like brighter colors, the drawings are quite clear. The crossover can also record video at 480p. The crossover comes with a 2GB card, although it supports up to 32GB cards.
We tested the Pantech Crossover in San Francisco using AT&T’s service. Call quality was mixed. We didn’t hear a lot of interference or background buzz, but callers said our voice sounded muddy. We heard our callers quite clearly however. On their end, they also said our volume was softer than they would like, and we had to speak up at times. Speakerphone calls didn’t help the audio quality–we not only sounded muddy, but echo-heavy as well.
Sample quality of the Pantech crossover callListen now:
The Pantech crossover has decent 3G speeds. We downloaded the CNET mobile page in just 15 seconds, and downloaded the full CNET cover page in 1 minute and 2 seconds. YouTube videos took a few seconds to buffer, and the video quality was rather bleak.
The Pantech crossover has an estimated battery life of 5 hours of talk time and 15 days of standby time. According to our tests, the talk time is 5 hours 25 minutes.
The Pantech Crossover’s small screen is not ideal for viewing Web pages or watching video, but the phone more than makes up for it with basic smartphone features and a great physical keyboard. The Pantech Crossover is also one of a few Android phones for AT&T to have a decent keyboard, and it’s affordable at only $69.99 with a new two-year service agreement.