There is a new kid on the MVNO block, and this one has arrived with white gloves, red pants, and yellow shoes. The Walt Disney Company, which brought you theme parks, beloved animated films, and merchandising as we know it, is now bringing Mickey Mouse to the mobile world. Disney Mobile, which unveiled its ears last month, is aiming to grab a share of the family market through a unique selection of services, including GPS location, Disney-themed content, and parental controls. Make no mistake that it's not about the hardware here--the carrier's first two handsets are rather unremarkable as cell phones go--but rather it's all about what's inside. The result is mostly successful, but with the Pantech DM-P100, we were disappointed there wasn't more magic in the handset itself. It is fairly priced, however, at $59 with service. As is the case with all MVNOs, Disney Mobile does not operate its own network; rather, it rents space from Sprint.
The DM-P100 joins the LG DM-L200 as Disney Mobile's first offerings. Pantech is a relatively new player in the United States, so we're not sure what to expect each time it introduces a new model. But with the DM-P100, we weren't bowled over. The flip phone isn't ugly, but it's not really pretty either. In all honesty, we were expecting a little more excitement from Disney Mobile, though the candy-apple-red LG DM-L200 comes a bit closer in that regard. Styled in a simple silver color scheme, DM-P100 has average dimensions for a flip phone (3.4 by 1.9 by 0.9 inches; 3.9 ounces), but it comes off looking a bit chunky. The extendable antenna is rather flimsy, but the phone has a solid construction overall and feels comfortable in the hand.
The postage stamp external display (96x64 pixels) is small for the phone's size, and it is dark even when the backlighting is on. It shows the date, time, battery life, signal strength, and caller ID, and though it doesn't support photo ID, it does function as a very rudimentary viewfinder for self-portraits. Unfortunately, none of the display's settings are changeable. Below the display is the camera flash and lens and a small speaker. A covered headset jack is on top of the phone, while the left spine holds a volume rocker and a camera shutter.
Inside the phone is the 1.75-inch (120x160 pixels) display. It supports 65,000 and is relatively bright and vivid. Graphics aren't supersharp but fine for viewing photos and games and browsing the user-friendly animated menus. You can change lots of options with the display, including the menu style, the contrast, the backlight time, the greeting, and the font color. Below the display is the large and tactile navigation array. A four-way toggle with an OK button in the center doubles as a shortcut to four user-defined functions. There are also two soft keys, a nifty dedicated speakerphone key, a camera button, the talk and end/power keys, and a back button. The keypad buttons are flat with the surface of the phone, but they are large and brightly backlit.
The 300-contact phone book has room in each entry for four phone numbers and two e-mail addresses. You can organize callers into groups or for caller ID purposes and pair them with a photo or a polyphonic ring tone. Only six tones come on the phones, some of which are Disney tunes, but more choices are available for download. Basic offerings include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, a one-minute voice recorder, a scheduler, an alarm clock, a notepad, a calculator, a stopwatch, voice dialing, a speakerphone, and a world clock. The carrier also offers a roadside assistance service for stranded motorists.
You might be surprised that Disney Mobile even includes a camera in a phone designed for kid use. But that's the point, actually, as the carrier's intention is to make a phone that's usable for family members of all ages. Plus, you can control the photo-messaging function (see below) and the camera is a simple VGA model. You can take pictures in three resolutions (640x480, 320x240, and 160x120), choose from three quality modes and six color effects, adjust the brightness and contrast, and use the 4X zoom (not available at the highest resolution). Other features include a self-timer, 18 fun frames, a flash, and three shutter sounds. Missing from the list, however, is video capability. When finished with your shots, you can save them to the phone's 32MB of shared memory or send them to friends. Picture quality is average for a VGA camera; objects in our tests were grainy and colors didn't pop out.