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Pantech C300 (AT&T) review: Pantech C300 (AT&T)

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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.

The VGA camera is beyond basic, but it's serviceable enough, and we commend Pantech for cramming a camera into such a tiny mobile. You can take pictures in two resolutions (640x480 and 128x128), and you can snap self-portraits using the external display as a viewfinder. Other options are limited as well. You get a flash, a brightness control, a multishot option, a self-timer, and three shutter sounds (plus a silent option). You also get a 4X zoom, but it's usable at only the lowest resolution. One note: Picture quality was pretty good for a VGA camera--colors were mostly sharp and objects distinct. The C300 has a shared memory of 13.4MB.

The C300 has acceptable photo quality for a VGA camera phone.

You can personalize the C300 with a variety of wallpaper and alert and function sounds. There's just one game (AquaPangPang), but the Java (J2ME) support means you can always buy more. You also can purchase more applications, wallpaper, and ring tones with the WAP 2.0 wireless Web browser. And if you're ever lost in the dark, you can use the flash as a tiny light.

We tested the Pantech C300 in San Francisco using Cingular's service. Call quality was decent, though voices sounded hollow and the volume wasn't very loud. Callers reported the same; they had no trouble understanding us but knew we were on a cell phone. Also, they had trouble hearing us when we were in noisy environments. The speakerphone wasn't so nice; it did the trick, but we avoided using it because of its poor quality.

The Pantech C300 has a rated talk time of 3 hours and a promised standby time of 10 days. In our tests, we managed to eke out an impressive 5 hours, 30 minutes of talk time. Standby time fell somewhat short, however, at 8 days. According to FCC radiation tests, the C300 has a digital SAR rating of 1.42 watts per kilogram.

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