Pantech C630 - gray (AT&T)
We've seen simple Pantech phones like the Pantech C150 and the Pantech Breeze, and we've also seen more advanced Pantech handsets like the Pantech Matrix and the Pantech Duo. But it's rare to see a phone that combines a simple design with an advanced feature set. The Pantech C630 is one such device--on the outside, it looks like an ordinary candy bar phone, but on the inside, you'll find 3G, GPS, and a host of multimedia features that belie its simple exterior. Perhaps the nicest thing about the Pantech C630 is that it's one of a few 3G phones you can get for less than $40--it's available for $39 with a two-year service agreement.
There's not much to say about the Pantech C630's design. It has a standard candy-bar shape, measuring 4.1 inches tall by 1.7 inches wide by 0.46 inch thick. The overall aesthetic is very simple without any frills. It has rounded corners and a soft-touch back cover, so it feels comfortable in the hand. The volume rocker and charger jack sits on the left spine while the microSD card slot and camera key are on the right. The camera lens is on the back, but there is no self-portrait mirror.
The C630 has a 1.76-inch 262,000-color display with a 176x220 pixel resolution. Even though the display is small, images look vibrant and vivid with color. You can adjust the menu type, the font style, the color theme, the brightness, and the backlight timer. The menu interface is similar to other AT&T phones and is simple to navigate.
Underneath the display is the navigation array, which consists of two soft keys, a four-way joystick that can be pressed down as a confirmation key, a Clear key in the middle, and the Talk and End/Power keys. In standby mode, the joystick acts as a shortcut to a new text message, the instant-messenger application, the contacts list, and the My Stuff menu when toggled north, east, south, and west respectively. Pressing the joystick down in standby mode will activate the Web browser. In standby mode, the Clear key also leads to the calendar application.
The keypad is gridlike and seems rather flat, but there are slight grooves between each key that make it easier to dial by feel. The keypad also feels roomy overall. As for the aforementioned navigation keys, we're not always big fans of the joystick as a toggle because it can be kind of inflexible, but the joystick on the C630 was fine.
Even though the Pantech C630 has a rather dull exterior, its feature set is another story. It comes with 3G, GPS, and plenty of multimedia features. But before we get into that, let's start with the basics. The C630 has a generous 1,000-entry phone book with room in each entry for five numbers, two e-mail addresses, a Web URL, a mailing address, and a memo. You can then organize your contacts into groups, pair them with a photo for caller ID, or customize them with any of 16 ringtones and alert tones.
Other basics include a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, text and multimedia messaging, an alarm clock, a calendar, a notepad, a voice memo recorder, a world clock, a calculator, a unit converter, and a stopwatch. More advanced users will like the wireless Web browser, mobile web e-mail (Yahoo! Mail, AOL, AIM, Windows Live Hotmail, AT&T Yahoo, BellSouth, Comcast, Earthlink, Juno, Mindspring, and NetZero), instant messenger (AIM, Windows Live, Yahoo! Messenger), and stereo Bluetooth. The C630 also comes with A-GPS support, so it's fitting that it's packaged with AT&T Navigator, which is AT&T's own voice-guided turn-by-turn location service.
The highlight of the C630 is that it comes with 3G, and thus has access to a whole host of AT&T's 3G services. They include AT&T's Cellular Video, which lets you stream video clips from content partners like ESPN and NBC, and AT&T Mobile Music, a gateway to several music-related services, like the ability to download music from Napster and eMusic. Other music services include MusicID, a song identification service, XM Radio, and streaming music videos. The C630 also supports AT&T Video Share, a video calling service that lets you stream live one-way video to another Video Share-compatible phone.
Of course, as part of the AT&T Mobile Music service, the C630 has a built-in music player as well. It supports MP3, MIDI, iMelody, MMF, WAV, SMAF, and AAC+ file formats. Though the player interface is pretty generic, you can still do the typical play, pause, and skip tracks, as well as set the songs on repeat or shuffle. You can create and edit playlists, plus there are six preset equalizer settings. The C630 comes with 64MB of internal memory but you can always add more storage via a microSD card.
The 1.3-megapixel camera on the C630 can take pictures in four resolutions (1,280x960, 1,024x768, 640x480, and 320x240), four white-balance settings, four color effects, and three quality settings. Other settings include brightness, a self-timer, a shutter sound toggle, and a timer sound toggle. We were pleasantly surprised by the photo quality--though the color appeared overcast, the overall image was sharp without a lot of blurriness. The built-in camcorder can record in two resolutions (128x96 and 176x144) in either short MMS mode or for as much storage that's available. Video quality was not that great, with a lot of jerky movements and pixelation, but that's fairly typical for camera phones.
Personalization options for the C630 include the typical graphics and sounds for wallpaper, alert tones, and more. The C630 comes with games too, which include Tetris, a demo version of Bubble Bash, and Diner Dash 2. It also has applications like MobiTV, The Weather Channel, WikiMobile, and Mobile Banking. You can download and shop for more of these customization options and applications from AT&T's Media Mall.
We tested the quad-band GSM and dual-band UMTS/HSDPA Pantech C630 with AT&T in San Francisco. We were very impressed with the call quality overall. Though voices sometimes sounded a bit muddled and there was the occasional echo, we could still hear our callers loud and clear. On their end, callers said we sounded loud and clear as well, though they could still tell we were on a cell phone. We made a call to an airline's automated voice recognition system, and we got through without a hitch. As for speakerphones, callers could hear us just fine, but we thought the sound quality of the speaker was a little hollow. That's pretty normal for a speakerphone, though.
The same goes for the audio quality from the music player. When heard via the speakers, the music sounded tinny and was lacking in depth. But with a pair of stereo headphones, the music sounded just fine. It probably won't replace your MP3 player, but it's good enough for a quick listen.
We were also pleased with the 3G speeds on the C630. Downloading a song took around a minute, and we had no hiccups when streaming video.
The Pantech C630 has a rated battery life of 5 hours and 16 days standby time. It has a tested talk time of 5 hours and 25 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the C630 has a digital SAR rating of 1.36 watts per kilogram.