Pantech Jest - blue (Verizon Wireless)
Small square-shaped messaging phones have been a trend for a while now, and Pantech is one of the few handset makers to embrace the design early on with phones like the Reveal and the Pursuit. The latest to join the family is the Pantech Jest, a compact little handset complete with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. It's geared toward the young texting crowd with messaging, e-mail, and social networking apps and it has a 2.0-megapixel camera and a music player to keep them entertained. Our major problem with the Jest lies in its optical directional pad, which we found to be a bit of an annoyance. The Jest is otherwise a decent messaging phone, available at the unbeatable price of free for a two-year service agreement with Verizon Wireless.
The Pantech Jest has a design similar to its AT&T cousin, the Pursuit. At 3.7 inches long by 2.5 inches wide by 0.6 inch thick, it is slightly square-shaped with curved corners and rounded sides, which results in a stubby yet compact design that fits perfectly in the hand. Its front surface has a glossy reflective sheen, while the back is textured to provide a firmer grip when held. The Jest is relatively lightweight at 4.1 ounces.
On the front of the phone is a bright and colorful 2.6-inch color display. Sporting a 320x320-pixel resolution and 262,000 colors, Pantech did a great job here. The animated wallpaper really pops from the screen, and the graphics and text look clean and crisp overall. You can adjust the clock format, the backlight time, the menu layout, general font types, menu font size, and the size and effects for the dial font.
Underneath the display is a navigation array that consists of two touch-sensitive soft keys, a round optical directional pad, a Send key, a music player shortcut key, a Clear or Voice command key, and the End/Power key. On standby, swiping the directional pad to the right will reveal a My Shortcuts pop-up that lists up to four user-defined shortcuts. The optical sensor was not as responsive as we would like. We found that we needed to apply a certain amount of pressure for it to read our finger swipes, even after we adjusted the sensitivity level to high. Sometimes we would be scrolling along just fine, only for it to stop occasionally because we didn't swipe the pad the right way. It's probably usable most of the time, but we imagine it might be especially annoying if you're in a hurry.
On the left spine is a 2.5mm headset jack, a volume rocker, and a speakerphone key, while a Micro-USB charger port, camera key, and Task Bar key are on the right. The Task Bar key brings up a shortcuts bar along the bottom row of the home screen that corresponds to the dialing app, the favorites list, call history, messaging, Verizon services, the music player, the photo album, the contacts list, and tools. The microSD card slot is on the top, and a camera lens and a self-portrait mirror are on the back.
The Jest slides open vertically to reveal a QWERTY keyboard underneath. The keyboard is a little crowded due to the small size of the phone, but the keys have a nice raised texture that still made it fairly easy to type and dial by feel. The number keys are outlined in orange, and the keyboard also has shortcuts for the Favorites list, the notepad, and a new text message.
The Pantech Jest has a generous 1,000-entry phone book with room in each entry for five numbers, two e-mail addresses, a street address, and an instant-messaging screen name. You can add a photo to a contact for caller ID, and you can assign him or her to a group too. There are also 26 ringtones and alert sounds that you can use to customize each contact.
Some of the phone's basic features include a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, a calculator, a tip calculator, a calendar, an alarm clock, a stop watch, a world clock, a notepad and an e-diary. You also get an interesting app called Self Icon that lets you to create your own icons and banners via a dot-matrix layout. Other features include USB mass storage, voice command, a mobile Web browser, GPS with VZ Navigator support, and Bluetooth profiles for A2DP stereo, Object Push, and File Transfer.
Equipped with a QWERTY keyboard, it's only fitting that the Jest comes with several messaging options. They include text and multimedia messaging with threaded conversations, instant messaging, and e-mail. E-mail comes in two flavors--mobile e-mail, and mobile Web e-mail. Mobile e-mail is a downloadable app that lets you send and receive e-mail from a variety of providers like Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL, and Gmail, plus you can enter in your own POP3 or IMAP information. However, mobile e-mail does cost $5 a month. Mobile Web e-mail is free, but it's just a link to a bare bones browser interface.
For social networking fans, the Jest comes with Social Beat, a Verizon app that lets you access Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace, as well as your Google Talk and Gmail accounts. Also in the Social Beat app is an RSS reader that lets you add and remove feeds from a variety of different news sources. However, you can't enter the RSS URL manually; you'll have to pick a feed from the provided list.
As for multimedia, the Jest has a pretty basic music player, with the ability to set songs on repeat or shuffle, and a variety of preset equalizer sound effects for Rock, Jazz, Classic, and more. You can customize the look of the player with different colored skins, and you can set it to Music Only Mode for when you're in an airplane and can't have a cellular signal. The player supports MP3 and WMA formats, and you can either load the music via a USB cable or via a microSD card. The Jest takes up to 16GB of removable memory. Another option is to use V Cast Music with Rhapsody. Though you can't download songs over the air, you can sync it with the desktop application and get your subscription music that way.
The 2.0-megapixel camera on the Jest can take pictures in five resolutions (1,600x1,200, 1,280x900, 640x480, 320x240, and 160x120). Other settings include six white balance presets, brightness, a self-timer, four color effects, and three shutter sounds with a silent option. There's also a video recorder, and it can only record in 176x144 resolution in either 15 seconds for MMS or an hour for storage. We were pleasantly surprised by the Jest's photo quality. Though it's not as crisp as photos taken with better cameras, images still looked sharp and not as blurry as we expected. Colors looked a little dim and muted, however.
You can customize the Jest with a variety of wallpaper and ringtones, and if you're not happy with the default options, you can download more from the Verizon store. The Jest also comes with apps like Backup Assistant, Bing Search, and VZ Navigator. There aren't any games, but again, you can download them from the Verizon store via the Web browser.
We tested the Pantech Jest in San Francisco using Verizon Wireless. Call quality was loud and clear for the most part, but we experienced rather harsh and blown-out voice quality at times. On our end, we heard our callers perfectly fine with not a blip of static, but we thought their voice quality was a little strained and mechanical.
Similarly, our callers said the call quality was above average, but definitely sounded like it came from a cell phone. Voice quality sounded a little coarse and a tad crackly. Speakerphone calls were quite good--callers didn't even know we were on speakerphone most of the time. Audio playback was decent, but nothing special. The mono speakers on the Jest don't do music justice, so we would recommend a headset for better sound quality.
The Pantech Jest has a rated battery life of 4.6 hours talk time and 15 hours standby time. The Jest had a talk time of 4 hours and 45 minutes in our tests. According to the FCC, it has a digital SAR of 0.893 watt per kilogram.