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Pantech Breeze III - gray (AT&T) review: Pantech Breeze III - gray (AT&T)

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MSRP: $219.99

The Good The Pantech Breeze III has a slim and stylish flip-phone design. The display is bright and customizable with large fonts, and the keypad is spacious. It has both an easy and advanced mode to suit customers with different comfort levels. Features include a 1.3-megapixel camera, voice command, quick access keys, 3G, a music player, a pill reminder, Bluetooth, and GPS. It also offers improved call quality.

The Bad The Pantech Breeze III doesn't have too many design and feature improvements over its predecessor. Some features available in advanced mode are not available in easy mode, which makes sense for some functions, but seem arbitrary for others.

The Bottom Line The Pantech Breeze III is a well-designed and affordable entry-level handset for senior citizens, kids, and cell phone novices.

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7.3 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 7
  • Performance 8

While Pantech has dabbled with smartphones like the Matrix Pro and the more recent Crossover, its core business in the U.S. has always been in the feature-phone market. In fact, one of its more successful models has been its Breeze handsets, which are simple entry-level flip phones that are designed for ease of use. Indeed, the Breeze and the Breeze II were ideal for senior citizens and kids because of its bright screen, large fonts, and emergency speed dial keys.

The Breeze III continues on with essentially the same design, but it borrows a few features from the Pantech Ease, the company's other senior-friendly handset. It now has a "Breeze" (easy) mode if you want to keep it simple or an "Advanced" mode for those who are slightly more phone-savvy. The new Breeze III also now has a tip calculator, noise suppression, voice recognition, and yes, even a pill reminder.

If you've seen the Pantech Breeze II, you might experience a bit of déjà vu when you see the Breeze III. That's because Pantech has kept the same slim and trim flip phone design with the Breeze successor, with almost the same measurements, at 3.9 inches long by 2.02 inches wide by 0.74 inch thick. It has a smooth matte surface on the front, and a patterned textured on the back, presumably for improved grip. The Breeze III is slightly curved at the sides, which adds to the comfortable feel in the hand.

The Pantech Breeze III has a simple minimalist design.

Like its predecessor, the Breeze III has a 1.38-inch external display on the front of the phone. It's designed for only a few basic tasks, like displaying the date, time, and caller ID. It is a color display with 65,000 colors and a 128x138-pixel resolution, so it will show picture caller ID as well. Beneath the display are three LED indicators that provide visual alerts for incoming messages, calls, and if you're low on battery life.

The Breeze III has a really stunning display for such an entry-level phone. The 2.2-inch display boasts 260,000 colors and a sharp 240x320-pixel resolution. Images pop with color and both graphics and text are sharp. You can adjust the wallpaper, the clock type, the greeting text, the color theme, the style and size of the fonts, the display's brightness, and the backlight timer of both the LCD and the keypad. In "Breeze mode," which we'll get to shortly, the options to change the clock type, the greeting text, the color theme, the font style, the brightness, and the backlight timer are not available.

As with the Breeze II and the Ease, the Breeze III offers two different menu modes. One is "Breeze mode," which is designed for ease of use, and the other is "Advanced mode," which opens up the phone's full list of functions. When in "Breeze mode," the menu interface is in the form of a super-simple list, with each menu option displayed in a large font. As you move up and down the list, your selection is highlighted prominently, and a graphic icon shows up on the right side. A few customization options and applications are unavailable to you in this mode, such as the aforementioned display settings, and the music player. As such, the "Breeze mode" is really meant more as an "easy mode" for cell phone novices. The menu interface in "Advanced mode" is much more like that of a normal phone, with the option of either grid or list as the menu style.

Sitting directly beneath the display are three shortcut keys numbered 1 through 3. You can assign each key as a "Quick Call" speed dial to an existing contact in your phone book (In other words, you must have already entered in that number into the phone book before assigning the Quick Call key). You can also assign these numbers as shortcuts to one of nine basic phone tools. These keys are roomy and large, but are rather slippery and flat to the surface. You also have to maneuver your thumb a little bit more to press them as they are located right above the phone's hinge.

The navigation array on the Breeze III is pretty standard. It consists of two soft keys, a square toggle with a middle select key, a dedicated voice command key, and a dedicated camera key. In standby mode, the toggle doubles as shortcuts to a new text message, instant messaging, the contacts list, and mobile e-mail, while the middle select key doubles as a shortcut to the Web browser.

The number keypad is largely unchanged from previous Breeze handsets. It's spacious and the keys themselves are large and easy to press. We did wish the keys were a little more raised above the surface, but the keys are separated enough that we could still dial and text with ease. The volume rocker is on the left spine, while the Micro-USB charger jack is on the right. On the back is the camera lens. You have to remove the cover and battery to get to the microSD card slot.

The Pantech Breeze III might be an entry-level phone, but that doesn't mean it's lacking in features. It certainly has the basics down-pat--it has a 1,000-entry phone book with room in each entry for six numbers, three e-mail addresses, a company name, five instant messenger handles, a Web address, a display name, a street address, a birthday, a social network ID, and more. You have the option of organizing your contacts into caller groups, and you can customize each contact with one of seven ringtones or eight alert tones. You can of course add your own if you like. You can use a photo for caller ID as well.

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