4G LTE has been around for quite a while now, but the handsets that support the emerging standard are still pretty darn expensive, even though there’s more and more of them every month. You won’t find any 4G LTE equipped smartphone for under $200, and that’s what Pantech and Verizon aim to fix with their new Breakout smartphone – a midrange device with a decent set of hardware features, 4G LTE radio and a price point of only $100 on a two year contract.
The Pantech Breakout will not win any design or beauty contests, but it looks pretty nice overall. It’s got the standard slab form factor, and the hardware navigation keys have a unique, unmistakable style to them. The back is textured, which allows for an easy and secure grip – you won’t drop this phone easily, that’s for sure. The speaker grill and camera could’ve been better designed though – they look a bit out of place on the smartphone. The back cover is removable, which means that you can use a third party extended battery or a backup battery if you need your phone to last longer away from the outlet.
The performance of the Breakout is pretty standard for a mid-range device: you’ll find a 1 GHz single core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor running things under the hood, with 512 MB of RAM and an Adreno 205 graphics adapter to aid it. That is more than enough for any day to day apps and games, but if you want your phone to last more than 2-3 years and be able to open big documents, lots of Web pages at once or some heavyweight apps, you’ll have to look elsewhere. The Breakout was made for high Internet speed, not overall speed – that’s the general feeling you get when using it, and the 4G LTE radio achieves the same transfer speeds as the more expensive models, although you need to be in a good spot or in the center of a major city with an LTE tower nearby.
The hardware features are everything you could expect from a budget phone – there are enough of them to help you accomplish most tasks. The display on the front of the Breakout is a 4 inch LCD unit with a resolution of 800×480 pixels – standard fare for modern phones, and definitely good enough for anything. The picture quality is pretty good, and the multi touch digitizer works just as it should, plus the tempered glass that covers it is scratch resistant (but still, a protective film is highly recommended).
The imaging capabilities continue with the 5 megapixels camera on the back, which supports 720p HD video recording but lacks a flash LED for some reason, and the 0.3 megapixels camera on the front, which is great for video calls (it’s actually a surprise that it’s even there). As is the case with all of the modern smartphones, the Pantech Breakout has a Wifi N adapter, Bluetooth 2.1 EDR, GPS, a 3.5 mm audio jack for headphones, DLNA compatibility, a micro USB port, and a micro SD card slot, which will come in handy since it’s the only way to store anything on the phone – micro SD cards are cheap nowadays and the phone supports up to 32 GB, so memory certainly won’t be a problem.
As is the case with most midrange smartphones, the new Breakout ships with Android 2.3 Gingerbread pre-installed, and there is no way to update it to Ice Cream Sandwich – at least not officially. The interface is vanilla Android, which is great – no custom skins means that you get to enjoy the best Android experience and you’ll have no crashes due to the badly written customizations.
The phone costs $100 with a two year contract, but you can find it for cheaper with special offers – a great price for a 4G LTE equipped smartphone, I’d say.