Pantech is best known for its feature phones -- and the company makes feature phones that are quite good. Now, Pantech has crossed over into the smartphone arena with the Pantech Crossover, its first Android device for the U.S. market.
Price and Availability
As of this writing (October, 2011), AT&T is offering the Pantech Crossover for free when you sign a new two-year service contract. To get that price, you will have to commit to a voice plan (starting at $39.99 per month) and data service (starting at $15 per month).
At first glance, the Pantech Crossover doesn't look like an Android phone; instead it looks more like a feature phone. The handset isn't a true rectangle; instead it has angled corners. The touch screen is small, at 3.1 inches diagonally, and while you do have the typical Android buttons (home, menu, search, and back) below the screen, they're not laid out in a line. Instead two (back and search) are touch sensitive keys that sit below either corner of the screen, and the menu and home buttons are physical keys at the very bottom of the phone.
The Crossover also features a slide-out keyboard, which is very handy considering the small size of its screen. The keyboard itself is very roomy, and thought the keys are a bit flat for my taste, I found them surprisingly easy to use.
With the Crossover's bargain price, it should come as no surprise that this phone doesn't ship with the latest version of Android, 2.3. Instead, you get Android 2.2.1, which is still a very good OS. It offers tight integration with Google apps and services, and is far more usable than past versions. Pantech doesn't add its own overlay (as companies like Motorola and HTC usually do) on top of Android, which makes the Crossover easy to use. For more information, see Android OS: Geeky But Good.
Web Surfing and Data Speeds
It should come as no surprise that the bargain-priced Crossover doesn't support AT&T's 4G network. But you will get support for AT&T's 3G network and Wi-Fi wireless hotspots. The Crossover also can be used as a mobile hotspot itself, to which you can connect five additional Wi-Fi devices, but using that feature requires a data plan that costs an extra $20 per month.
The Crossover's Web browser itself is decent, but like most of today's Android browsers, it lacks the elegance of Apple's Safari mobile browser. Too many functions, such as opening a new browsing window and switching between open windows, must be done through a menu. It should be easier to take advantage of these features. The Crossover's small screen also feels a bit tight when browsing the Web.
Call quality was very good in my test calls placed over AT&T's network. I heard no background noise and very little distortion. Volume was plentiful on both ends of the line.
The Pantech Crossover's camera boasts a resolution of just 3 megapixels, which pales in comparison to the 5- and 8-megapixel cameras found on today's best phones. But the picture quality proved better than expected, delivering sharp images, though colors were a bit dull. The camera also capture video in a resolution of 480p. My test clips looked a bit blocky and lacked the sharpness of a true HD video.
Multimedia and More
The Crossover offers access to YouTube through a dedicate app, as well as easy access to Amazon's MP3 downloads service. You also get AT&T's Live TV app for watching video. In addition, the phone comes with Facebook and Twitter apps preloaded, as well as AT&T's Family Map and Navigator services.
The Pantech Crossover lacks many of the bells and whistles found on today's best Android phones. But it offers good call quality and a decent feature set, all for the best price of all: free.