When we first heard that the Pantech C300 promised to be the world's smallest flip phone, we weren't terribly excited. Since it seems like every phone these days is hoping to claim the title of the world's thinnest handset, we've grown accustomed to seeing increasingly tiny models. But when we finally got the C300 out of the box, we hardly could believe what we were seeing. This phone isn't just small, it's downright miniature. In fact, it's so small, it's almost a bit ridiculous, and you might mistake it for a child's toy or a prop from the movie Zoolander. Measuring 2.7 by 1.7 by 0.7 inches and weighing a petite 2.5 ounces, it will fit in any pocket, even with its stubby external antenna. Adult hands will find it much too Lilliputian for comfortable use--it's impossible to hold between your head and shoulder--but teens and Hello Kitty aficionados should take to it straight away. It's sold only for Cingular's Go Phone prepaid service, and it's a bit pricey at $119.
As we said before, the C300 is the most diminutive phone we've seen. That quality in itself makes it somewhat cute, though the handset's overall design is uninspired. The silver, textured finish is nice, but the form factor is flat and boxy. Understandably, the construction is a bit flimsy and the hinge somewhat loose; this is not a phone that will withstand a lot of knocks and bumps. On the upside, the external display is bigger than we expected (1 inch diagonal), and it supports a brilliant 260,000 colors. Though you can't alter the backlight time or any other preferences, it shows everything you need, including the date, time, battery life, signal strength, and even photo caller ID. Below the display are a small flash and the camera lens.
Inside the phone is the 1.5-inch-diagonal (128x128 pixels) internal screen. It supports 65,000 colors as well, so it's adequate for scrolling through the simple menus and viewing photos. It's a bit small for playing games, but the C300 is hardly an entertainment phone by anyone's measure. The only preferences you can change here are the backlighting time and the contrast. Below the display are the navigation controls, which for the most part are spacious and tactile for the phone's size. The four-way toggle doubles as shortcut to the phone book, the downloads and applications folder, the messaging menu, and the instant-messaging application, while the two soft keys give one-touch access to the menu and the camera. Inside the toggle is an OK button, which in standby mode acts as a Web browser shortcut. The talk and end/power keys are ample as well, but the dedicated Back/Clear control is way too small.
Like the navigation controls, the keypad buttons are completely flat with the surface of the phone. They're bigger than you might expect, however, and they're spaced far enough apart. Dialing was not a problem, and though texting was tedious, that was more due to the size of the phone rather than the buttons. The keypad buttons also have bright backlighting so that you can dial in the dark. The only controls on the outside of the phone are a volume rocker on the right spine below a covered headset jack.
The Pantech C300's feature set is pretty basic, but it has a few surprises nonetheless. The phone book holds an impressive 800 contacts with room for three phone numbers, two e-mail addresses, and notes (the SIM card holds an additional 250 contacts) for each. You can assign contacts to groups or pair them with one of eight polyphonic ring tones. One monophonic tone and one MP3 tone also come with the phone. Other offerings include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, an alarm clock, a calendar, a memo pad, instant messaging (Yahoo, ICG, and AOL), a one-minute voice recorder, a world clock, a calculator, a unit converter, and a stopwatch. There's even a speakerphone, but you can't turn it on until after you make a call.