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Big screen and 12MP camera at the right price (hands-on)

With its 4.8-inch screen, powerful camera, and affordable price point, the Pantech Discover from AT&T hits high notes.

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Jessica Dolcourt Lynn La
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Jessica Dolcourt

Editorial Director / CNET Money, How-To & Performance Optimization

Jessica Dolcourt leads the CNET Money, How-To, and Performance teams. A California native who grew up in Silicon Valley, she's passionate about connecting people with the highest standard of advice to help them reach their goals.

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Lynn La

Senior Editor / Reviews - Phones

Lynn La covers mobile reviews and news. She previously wrote for The Sacramento Bee, Macworld and The Global Post.

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2 min read

LAS VEGAS--One of Pantech's most ambitious smartphones yet, AT&T's Pantech Discover combines a 4.8-inch 720p HD display with a 12.6-megapixel camera on a 4G LTE, Android handset.

The smartphone also features a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm MSM8960 Snapdragon S4 Pro processor; NFC, or near-field communication, protocol; and crams in a removable 2,100mAH battery (which roughly translates to 10 hours of talk time) to support the power-hungry screen.

One of its most notable features is its dual 3D surround-sound speakers that are located on either side of the handset.

Unlike a small slit on the back for the audio speaker, which is common on most devices, these speakers deliver big sound that enhances your movie and music listening experiencing.

When we listened to the "Iron Man 3" trailer on it, we were impressed by its full sound. Especially on maximum volume, the audio didn't sound tinny or harsh whatsoever.

On the software side, Pantech makes its own mark with the option of Easy Mode, which simplifies the Android home screen layout with preinstalled icons that are also large and finger-friendly and is perfect for first-time smartphone users.

AT&T gets into the action with its AT&T DriveMode app, a helper to keep you from texting and crashing. Part of AT&T's "It Can Wait" campaign, the Pantech's Discover is the first phone to get it.

Pantech Discover joins the big-screen phone club (pictures)

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When enabled, it can sense when you are traveling more than 25 mph so that when you get a call, it will reply back with a customizable message saying you aren't available. You can choose up to five people (911 included) that can bypass this mode in case of emergencies.

Unfortunately, the Discover only runs on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich for now, but there are plans for a Jelly Bean update.

However, you can paper over a multitude of peccadilloes with fantastic price, and that's always something Pantech does exquisitely. The Discover costs just $49.99 with a new two-year agreement with AT&T. The phone goes on sale January 11.