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Most of Pantech's messaging phones have been of the high-end variety. The Pantech Duo is a smartphone, the Helio Ocean is as close to a smartphone as you can get without having a third-party operating system, and the Pantech Matrix has HSDPA speed, along with multimedia features like a megapixel camera and a music player. The Pantech Slate, on the other hand, is fairly slim as far as features go, with only a 1.3-megapixel camera and Bluetooth as its main capabilities. It's also pretty slim design-wise, too--Pantech claims the Slate is the world's thinnest messaging phone, for however much that's worth. The Slate is available from AT&T for $49.99 after a two-year service agreement and a mail-in rebate.
At first glance, the Pantech Slate looks like a fancier version of the Peek or a slimmer, lower-end version of a BlackBerry. Measuring 4.2 inches long by 2.5 inches wide by 0.39 inch thick, the Slate claims to be the thinnest messaging phone in the world at the time of its release, and since it certainly is thin and lightweight, we'll take Pantech at its word. We like the Slate's slightly reflective display on the front, as well as the textured, faux-leather backing that gives it an extra grip.
The Pantech Slate has a camera lens on the back.
The Slate has a very nice 2.2-inch diagonal display with 260,000-color support and 176x220 pixel resolution. We love how images appeared saturated with color and text looked legible and sharp. The menu interface is easy to navigate and use. You can adjust the backlight time, brightness, font style, and the menu type.
The navigation array sits underneath the display, and consists of two soft keys, a square navigation toggle with middle confirmation key, a dedicated speakerphone key, a Clear key, and the Send and End/power keys. The entire middle square toggle is curved and raised above the surface of the phone. The rest of the keys have alternating bumps going down either the left or right side. We liked this arrangement since it provides texture and makes for easier navigation. The square toggle also doubles as shortcuts to a new text message, the instant messenger, the contacts list, and mobile e-mail. The middle confirmation key is a shortcut to the Web browser when the phone is on standby.
The Pantech Slate has a QWERTY keyboard, ideal for texting.
Underneath the navigation array is the full QWERTY keyboard. The keyboard felt quite roomy, and we love how bubblelike the keys felt--they were all raised above the surface of the phone, which allowed for easy texting and dialing. The keyboard has the typical function and shift keys and a dedicated key for the messaging in-box.
On the left side is a volume rocker, which also doubles as a jog dial/side key for navigating the menu and for scrolling through messages. The headset/charger jack is on top, while the camera key is on the right spine. On the back is the camera lens and external speaker--there is no self-portrait mirror, however.
The Pantech Slate is slim on features as well as design, but that doesn't mean it won't please most people, especially if all you care about is texting and simple e-mail. The Slate has a simple 600-entry phone book, with room in each entry for three numbers, two e-mail addresses, and a note. You can choose to organize your contacts by caller groups, and pair them with a photo or one of 10 polyphonic ring tones for caller ID. Other essentials include a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, text and multimedia messaging, an alarm clock, a calendar, a notepad, a voice-memo recorder, a calculator, a stop watch, and a unit converter. More advanced users will appreciate the wireless Web browser, Bluetooth, mobile e-mail (support for Yahoo, AOL, AIM, Windows Live, AT&T Yahoo and BellSouth accounts), instant messaging (AIM, Windows Live, and Yahoo Messenger), and support for MP3 ringtones.
The Pantech Slate has decent photo quality, but we didn't like the overcast tinge.
The Pantech Slate comes with a 1.3-megapixel camera, which can take pictures in six resolutions (1,280x960, 1,024x768, 800x600, 640x480, 320x240, and 220x176), and three image-quality settings. Other camera options include five color effects, five white balance presets, multishot, a self-timer, and a shutter sound toggle. Photo quality was decent for a 1.3-megapixel camera; images didn't appear blurry and looked quite sharp. However, colors looked muted and images had an overcast quality to them. There's also a built-in camcorder. You can record videos in two resolutions (176x144 and 128x96), two quality settings, and in two different lengths: a short one for multimedia messages and a longer one for storage. The Slate comes with only 20MB of internal memory, so you'll have to use your photo and video storage wisely.
You can customize the Pantech Slate with graphics and sounds for personalizing the phone's wallpaper and alert tones. The Slate comes with games and applications like Sims 2, Brain Challenge Volume 2, Ms. Pac-Man, WSOP Pro Challenge Poker, Mobile Banking, My-Cast Weather, WikiMobile, and Yellowpages.com. If you want more images, sounds, games, and applications, you can download them via AT&T's Media Mall store directly from the phone.
We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) Pantech Slate in San Francisco using AT&T's service. We were mostly satisfied with the call quality. The signal was strong and clear, and callers could hear us just fine. Similarly, we could hear our callers loud and clear as well. However, we were sometimes plagued by the occasional static and crackling noises, so it's not perfect. On their end, callers said our voice sounded clear, but just a tad machinelike. We passed automated-calling systems with flying colors.
Speakerphone quality was decent, if somewhat distorted. Callers could hear us fine over speakerphone, but we thought they sounded a little tinny. We managed to pair the Pantech Slate with the Aliph Jawbone 2 and Bluetooth headset calls went fine.
The Slate has a rated battery life of 3 hours talk time and 10 days standby time. Our tests showed a talk time of 3 hours 21 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the Slate has a digital SAR rating of 1.24 watts per kilogram.