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Pantech C150 (AT&T) review: Pantech C150 (AT&T)

Pantech C150 (AT&T)

Nicole Lee Former Editor
Nicole Lee is a senior associate editor for CNET, covering cell phones, Bluetooth headsets, and all things mobile. She's also a fan of comic books, video games, and of course, shiny gadgets.
Nicole Lee
4 min read

Pantech is known for making low-end handsets for AT&T, like the tiny C3b and the slim and compact C120. Its most recent handset is the C150, which continues the C120's candy bar trend but with a curvier and cuter look. The C150's features are as simple as its design, with a basic VGA camera and EDGE connection speeds, but it does come with Bluetooth, which elevates it a little bit above the C120. The low-end offerings aren't for everyone, but if you just want a good cell phone that can make phone calls, then the Pantech C150 could be the right fit for you. And you just can't argue with the unbeatable price of free, as long as you sign up for a two-year service agreement with AT&T.


Pantech C150 (AT&T)

The Good

The Pantech C150 has a simple design with easy-to-use controls and excellent call quality. It's also available for free.

The Bad

The Pantech C150 takes disappointing photos and there's no self-portrait mirror or flash with the camera.

The Bottom Line

The Pantech C150 is a solid basic camera phone with impressive call quality and an unbeatable price.

While the Pantech C120 seemed rather lackluster with its generic silver color scheme, the C150 has a rather attractive white plastic shell that makes it stand out in the sea of basic cell phones. Its minimalist candy bar shape follows the design's overall zen aesthetic, and we like its simple look. Measuring 4.1 by 1.7 by 0.5 inch, the C150 is pretty compact and at 2.57 ounces, it's quite lightweight too. It feels quite comfortable and solid when held in the hand. A camera sits on the back of the phone, while the volume rocker is on the left spine and the camera button is on the right. There is unfortunately no self-portrait mirror or flash. The charger jack sits on top of the phone.

The Pantech C150 has a camera on the back, but no self-portrait mirror.

The C150's display measures 1.75 inches diagonally, and though it supports 260,000 colors, it only has 128x160 pixels. The screen actually looks pretty good for such a basic phone, with bright colors and animated menu icons. You can't change the brightness or contrast, but you can change the backlight time. Though you can't change the font size either, we weren't disappointed because the default font size is plenty big already. The menu interface is similar to other AT&T phones, and is simple to navigate.

Underneath the display is the navigation array that consists of two soft keys, a five-way joystick with the Clear key underneath, and the Talk and End/Power keys. In standby mode, the joystick acts as a shortcut to new text messages, the instant messenger interface, the contacts list, and the "My Stuff" menu when toggled north, east, south, and west respectively. If you press the joystick down, the Web browser will pop up. The Clear key also doubles as a shortcut to the calendar when in standby mode. The keypad is a joy to use, with plenty of space between each key, and all of them are raised above the surface for easy dialing.

For a free phone, the Pantech C150 has pretty decent features. It has an 800-contact phone book with room in each entry for three phone numbers, two e-mail addresses, and notes. You can also organize your contacts into groups, or pair them with a photo or one of 10 polyphonic ringtones for caller ID. Other basic features include a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, text and multimedia messaging, instant messaging for AOL, MSN, and Yahoo, an alarm clock, a calendar, a notepad, a voice memo recorder, world time, a calculator, a unit converter, and a stopwatch. On the higher end, it also has Bluetooth, access to mobile e-mail like AOL, Yahoo, or Windows Live, and a wireless Web browser with access to Media Net, AT&T's mobile Web portal.

The Pantech C150 took disappointing photos.

The Pantech C150 comes with a fairly bare-bones VGA camera, which doesn't take good pictures but will work for a quick snapshot. Camera options include 4x zoom, a brightness setting, three resolutions (640x480, 320x240, and 128x160), three image quality settings; five color effects, five white balance settings, a multishot mode, 10 fun frames, a self-timer mode, and three shutter sounds plus a silent option. The C150 also has a camcorder mode, which can record video with two different resolutions (176x144 and 128x96), and two recording lengths--a short one for multimedia messages and an "unlimited" one for longer videos. The C150 also has more memory than the C120--12MB instead of 2.8 MB--so you can take more photos or videos if you want to. Picture quality was predictably blah, with a dark hue and blurred edges. Video quality didn't fare much better. That said, we didn't expect much out of a VGA camera anyway.

You can personalize the C150 with wallpaper, sounds, screensavers, alert tones, and even create your own greeting that'll pop up on the main screen during standby mode. The C150 supports MP3 ringtones as well. It also comes with a variety of games, like Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man, Tetris, Platinum Sudoku, Diner Dash, and a demo of JewelQuest, plus a weather application called My-Cast Weather. You can download more customization themes, games, ringtones, and more via Cingular's Media Net browser.

We tested the C150 in San Francisco using AT&T's service. Call quality was excellent--callers reported that our voices sounded clean and natural, with good volume. We also thought calls sounded great, with very little static and noise. The speakerphone quality was a little hollow and tinny sounding, but we still managed to hear just fine. We paired the Pantech C150 with the BlueAnt Z9 Bluetooth headset without any problems.

The C150 has a rated battery life of three hours, with 10 days standby time. It had a tested talk time of three hours and 41 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the C150 has a digital SAR rating of 0.66 watts per kilogram.