In general, I prefer practical over cute, but with one look, the Pantech Pursuit won me over with its cute design. This compact cell phone – with its green edging and slide-out keyboard – is cute enough that you could call it adorable. Luckily, however, it has plenty of features to impress my practical side, too – enough to earn a spot on my list of today's best cell phones.
Price and Availability
AT&T is offering the Pantech Pursuit for $49.99 when you sign a new two-year service agreement. That price requires that you commit to a voice plan and a $20-per-month messaging plan, at minimum. (You also can opt for a full data plan, should you want one.) Without a contract, AT&T is charging $199.99 for the Pursuit.
The Pursuit's design is not for everyone; with its compact, colorful case, the Pursuit is dressed more for play than work. When the slider-style phone is closed, you see its 2.8-inch touch screen and its textured bumper. The bumper on my review unit was bright green, but AT&T also offers a blue version of the phone.
The touch screen is a bit small, but provided just enough real estate for taking advantage of the Pursuit's features. Its small size also was offset slightly by its brightness and sharpness, and I found it to be very responsive to my taps. Below the display, you get three touch-sensitive controls: send and end buttons, and a back button.
When closed, the Pursuit measures just 3.6 inches long by 2.5 inches wide by .6 inches thick; it's about the size of a deck of cards. When you open the phone, you see the full QWERTY keyboard. It’s decently-sized – especially when you consider the small size of the phone – but I found the keys are a little too stiff. I sometimes had to press down harder than expected in order to type.
In my test calls, made over AT&T’s network in and around the Boston area, call quality varied. Many calls came through loud and clear, but on others I heard an occasional hiss. Some callers reported a high level of background noise, too.
The Pursuit’s compact shape also made the phone a bit awkward to hold during calls – especially at first. It’s wider and shorter than most phones, so it felt somewhat uncomfortable when held next to my ear.
The Pantech Pursuit is not a full-fledged smartphone, and doesn't run a true smartphone operating system. But it does have a smartphone-like look to it. The phone's features can be accessed by tapping the "menu" icon that appears on the bottom of the home screen. From there, you get three screens of small, squarish icons that you can scroll through and tap to access apps and features. The whole effect is almost iPhone-like, though scrolling through the Pantech's screens and menus is nowhere near as effortless.
The Pursuit comes with a decent selection of apps pre-loaded, including AT&T Navigator for driving directions, a mobile Yellow Pages app, AT&T's Mobile Video, AT&T FamilyMap, and more. The Pursuit also offers multitasking, though you can only run three apps simultaneously.
With its fun, playful design, the Pursuit is clearly aimed at a younger audience, and as such, comes with a good selection of social networking features. You get Facebook and MySpace apps installed on the phone, as well as AT&T's Social Net, which serves as a hub for accessing your favorite social networks.
One unusual feature that the Pursuit offers is a "shake" control, which lets you control certain apps and functions by shaking the phone. You can choose from a somewhat limited selection of features, such as snoozing the alarm clock and skipping to the next song in a playlist, that you can control by shaking the phone. It's not incredibly practical, but it sure is fun.
The Pantech Pursuit supports AT&T's 3G network, but doesn't offer support for Wi-Fi wireless networks. That means you have to rely on the availability of the cellular network for speedy Web browsing. The phone does, however, offer a full HTML browser that displayed most Web pages faithfully. While text and images looked relatively crisp on the Pursuit's screen, that screen is small, so expect to do a lot of scrolling if you want to browse Web sites in any detail.
The Pursuit offers a good array of messaging features, including support for text and multimedia messaging, as well as popular instant messaging clients. You also get a Mobile Email client that lets you access popular Web mail accounts, as well as other IMAP and POP3 accounts.
The Pursuit's camera is a 2-megapixel model, but captured some surprisingly good snapshots. Extras include the ability to adjust the resolution and white balance, a self timer, and geotagging. The camera also captures video clips, but the results here were not nearly as impressive. My test videos looked choppy and blocky when played back.
AT&T offers a good amount of multimedia features that can be found on the Pursuit. You get AT&T Mobile Music, which offers access to over-the-air song downloads, XM Satellite Radio, and additional music features. You also get AT&T Mobile Video and AT&T Video Share, which lets you share live videos.
The Pantech Pursuit is fun to look at and fun to use, and it’s reasonably priced, too.