Sometimes basic phones are all one really needs, and Pantech is a manufacturer that definitely understands that. Though it also makes higher-end feature phones like the Matrix and the Matrix Pro, Pantech does entry-level phones very well. A perfect example is the Pantech Breeze 2, which is the successor to the Pantech Breeze from a couple years ago. Some may dismiss it as a simple flip phone, but that is exactly what it intends to be. Its slim design, quick access keys, and a superintuitive interface means that the Breeze II is a great phone for anyone who just wants an affordable basic phone. The Pantech Breeze II is available for $19.99 with a two-year service agreement with AT&T.
Pantech wisely kept the slim and trim aesthetic of the original Breeze flip phone. Measuring 4 inches long by 2 inches wide by 0.7 inch thick, the Breeze II is wonderfully slender, and though it is rectangular, it has a subtle curvature that makes it feel good in the hand. The back has a dimpled surface for better grip as well. Weighing in at 3.4 ounces, the Breeze II certainly won't make a dent in your pocket, either.
On the front of the phone is a serviceable 1.38-inch external display. It only shows the basics like the date and time plus caller ID. Since it has 65,000 colors and has a 128x128-pixel resolution, it can also display pictures. Underneath that display are three LED indicator icons that provide visual alerts for new messages, calls, and low battery life, so you can easily check these without having to open the phone.
Flip open the phone and you'll find a bright and cheery 2.2-inch display with 260,000 colors and a 240x320-pixel resolution. Both images and text look sharp and crisp, even for such a small screen. The menu interface can be arranged in either a simple list-style "Breeze mode" or a traditional grid "Advanced mode." The "Breeze mode" also displays the menu options with larger text and removes a few customization options, so think of it more like an "easy" mode. You can adjust the clock type and greeting text on the home screen, the color themes, the font style and size, the brightness, and the backlight timer.
Like on the original Breeze, there are three "quick call" keys numbered 1 through 3 directly underneath the main display. Each number can be assigned only to contacts in your phone book, so make sure to enter in that contact in your address book prior to assigning the key. We appreciate the convenience of having these keys, but they are slightly flat to the surface and are a bit uncomfortable to access since they are located right above the bump of the phone's hinge.
The navigation array sits just underneath the aforementioned hinge, and consists of two soft keys, a round toggle with a middle select key, a dedicated voice command key, a dedicated camera key, a Call key, a Clear key, and the End/Power key. The toggle also doubles as shortcuts to a new text message, instant messaging, AT&T's online address book, mobile e-mail, and the Web browser.
The number keypad sits just below the array. All of the keys are well-spaced apart, but the keys themselves feel a little too set into the phone. Still, there's enough differentiation between each key that we could still text and dial easily.
The volume rocker is on the left, the headset/charger jack is on the right, and the camera lens is on the back. You have to remove the cover and the battery to get to the microSD card slot.
The Pantech Breeze II mimics many of the same features as the Pantech Link, the company's low-end messaging phone. For the basics, it has a 1,000-entry phone book, with room in each entry for a company name, six numbers, three e-mail addresses, five instant messenger names, a Web address, a display name, a street address, a birthday, an anniversary date, and a note. You can then organize your callers into groups and assign one of seven ringtones or eight alert tones plus a photo for caller ID.
Other essentials include a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, an alarm clock, a calendar, a notepad, a world clock, a calculator, a tip calculator, a unit converter, a stop watch, a timer, and a voice memo recorder. You also get text and multimedia messaging, instant messaging (AIM, Yahoo, Windows Live Messenger), and stereo Bluetooth. It has mobile e-mail, which you can use to access any of the popular Web mail services as well as add your own, but AT&T does charge you a $5 monthly fee for the privilege. Other advanced features include AT&T GPS with turn-by-turn directions, and multitasking abilities.
Surprisingly for an entry-level phone, the Pantech Breeze II is also equipped with 3G. That means surfing the Web will be a little faster, which is great since it has a mobile HTML browser based on Opera. It's not quite as full-featured as some other mobile browsers, but it's quite good for a basic phone like this. You can read more about that browser in our review of the Pantech Reveal.
The Breeze II also has access to a few AT&T services like AT&T Online Locker, which stores photos and videos to be uploaded to social networks like Facebook and MySpace; AT&T Address Book, which stores your contacts in the cloud; AT&T Mobile Video; and even AT&T Mobile Music, which provides a convenient portal for music-related services (including streaming radio, music videos, a ringtone creator, a music community, a song ID program called Shazam, and a store where you can purchase and download songs from Napster and eMusic over-the-air). The music player's interface is what you might expect; it organizes songs into albums, artists, and genres, and you can create and edit playlists on the fly. It has 80MB of internal memory, but the microSD card slot can take up to 32GB of external storage.
The Pantech Breeze II has a 1.3-megapixel camera that can take pictures in four resolutions (1,280x1024 pixels, 1,024x768 pixels, 640x480 pixels, and 320x240 pixels) and three picture quality settings. Other camera settings include 4x zoom, white-balance presets, color effects, a self-timer, a shutter sound, and a timer sound, with silent options for both. Photo quality was very overcast, especially in low light. Images seemed dull and the edges weren't as sharp as we would like. The camcorder can record in three resolutions (176x144 MMS, 176x144, and 320x240). There's also a fourth Video Share option if you want to stream live one-way video to someone else using AT&T Video Share. The other options are similar to the still camera.
You can customize the Pantech Breeze II with a variety of graphics and sounds for wallpaper and ringtones. You can also use your own photos or audio for those, or you can download them from AT&T's AppCenter. The Breeze II comes with several games and applications; ours came with MobiTV, My-Cast Weather, AT&T Social Net (this gives you quick access to popular social networks like Twitter and Facebook), Mobile Banking, Mobile Video, PicDial, FunScreenz, Pocket Auctions, Ms. Pac-Man, Diner Dash Flo on the Go, Tetris, Bubble Bash 2, and I-play Bowling. You can download more from the AppCenter as well.
We tested the Pantech Breeze II in San Francisco using AT&T. Call quality was impressive on the whole. On our end, we could hear our callers loud and clear with very little distortion. We didn't experience any dropped calls and voice quality was great. On the other side, callers could tell we were on a cell phone, and they could hear a bit of an echo quality to our voice. Still, we managed to carry on a conversation without many problems. Speakerphone calls were great as well, though callers said our voice sounded just a bit harsher. As for audio quality for songs, we suggest using a headset for the best results.
We enjoyed good 3G speeds in our testing period. We downloaded a 1.8MB song in 39 seconds, and loading CNET's mobile site took around 20 seconds. We experienced only around 10 or so seconds of buffering time when streaming video.
The Pantech Breeze II has a rated battery life of 3 hours talk time and 10 days standby time. The Breeze II has a tested talk time of 4 hours and 2 minutes. According to the FCC, it has a digital SAR of 0.74 watt per kilogram.