Pantech Impact review: Pantech Impact

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The Good The Pantech Impact has a unique OLED touch-sensitive keypad, dual displays, and a full QWERTY keyboard. Features include 3G, GPS, a HTML browser, a 2.0-megapixel camera, and a music player.

The Bad The keypad could be a little roomier; the keyboard feels off balance; and the camera is a bit tricky to use.

The Bottom Line The Pantech Impact has an eye-catching style and a respectable feature set, but its design could use some improvements.

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7.0 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 7
  • Performance 8

Pantech is no stranger to the sliding QWERTY phone, from the dual-slider Helio Ocean to the recent single-slider Pantech Reveal. But with its latest messaging handset, Pantech went for a flip shape similar to that of the LG enV3. It has an external keypad, dual displays, and a full QWERTY keyboard. Unlike the enV3, though, the Impact has a very impressive OLED touch-sensitive exterior. Aside from its unique style, the Impact has a good feature set that includes 3G, GPS, and an HTML mobile browser based on Opera. The Pantech Impact is available for $99.99, after a mail-in rebate and a two-year agreement, from AT&T Wireless.

Though the Pantech Impact has a flip shape much like the LG enV3, it has a style all its own. Measuring 4.19 inches long by 2.04 inches wide by 0.7 inch thick, the Impact is much thicker and rounder. It weighs 4.49 ounces, so it's quite a bit heavier, as well. The Impact's patterned border and a silver chrome edge gives the phone a jewel-like look, especially when the OLED display is brought to life. When left idle, the front of the phone goes dark, leaving only a shiny black surface that's prone to fingerprint smudges.

The Pantech Impact has a unique OLED touch-sensitive exterior.

When awakened however, it looks quite stunning. The tiny 1.5-inch external display lights up, showing the signal strength, battery life, and date and time information. Even though it is monochrome, the white and gray text stands out and is positively luminous against the black background. The same goes for the touch-sensitive keypad, which glows pink or blue depending on the color of the phone.

You only have limited access to the menu from the external display. You can get to your address book, the messaging menu, the recent calls list, and the music player, and, of course, you can make and receive calls, but that's about it. There's no camera viewfinder or photo caller ID, because of the monochrome display.

Even though the keys are completely flat, they do have haptic feedback when pressed. You can adjust the sensitivity level and vibration strength of the keys. The navigation controls consist of two soft keys, an up-and-down toggle, the Talk and End keys, and the alphanumeric keypad. In standby mode, the up arrow is a shortcut to a new text message, while the down arrow is a shortcut to the address book. We found the keys to be quite responsive, but we did find the keypad a bit too cramped for our taste. You can type out text messages with the keypad if you wish, but we much prefer using the QWERTY keyboard for that.

The Pantech Impact opens up to reveal a full QWERTY keyboard.

The phone flips open from the right to reveal the aforementioned keyboard and a 2.6-inch internal display. It supports 262,000 colors and 240x400 pixels, which results in sharp and colorful graphics. You can adjust the menu style, the color theme, the style and size of the font, the brightness, the backlight timer, and the fade transition effect between the home screen and the menu. On either side of the display are stereo speakers hidden beneath a mirrored surface.

Underneath the display are a camera button, two soft keys, the Talk button, a middle Select key, and the End/Power button. The Select key also doubles as a Web browser shortcut on standby. On the far right of the keyboard is a circular toggle with a middle OK key. In standby mode, the toggle acts as shortcuts to a new text message, instant messaging, the address book, and mobile e-mail.

The QWERTY keyboard is raised above the surface and the keys are well-spaced, but it does feel a little crowded when typing. It also feels off-balance because the circular toggle on the right aligns the keyboard to the left. We did like the dedicated instant-messaging key, the .com key, and the big middle space bar.

On top of the phone is the headset/charger jack; the microSD card slot is on the bottom; and on the right spine are the keypad hold key and the volume rocker. On the back is the camera lens. We found it a little difficult to take photos due to the position of the lens; our fingers kept covering it up while trying to take a picture. Also, you can only take pictures with the phone open.

The Pantech Impact has a 1,000-entry phone book with room in each entry for five numbers, two e-mail addresses, a street address, a Web URL, and a memo. You can categorize your contacts into caller groups, pair a photo for caller ID (though bear in mind the external display won't show it), one of eight polyphonic ringtones, or one of eight alert tones. Other essentials include a vibrate mode, an alarm clock, a calendar, a notepad, a voice memo recorder, a world clock, a calculator, a tip calculator, a unit converter, a stop watch, and a timer. There's also a speakerphone, which automatically turns on when you flip open the phone while on a call.

If you're a bit more tech savvy, you'll appreciate the GPS with AT&T Navigator's turn-by-turn directions, stereo Bluetooth, and an array of messaging options. You get text and multimedia messaging, plus instant messaging (AOL, Yahoo, Gmail, and Windows Live), and mobile e-mail with support for a variety of Web e-mail services like Gmail and Yahoo, plus any provider with POP and IMAP access.

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