There’s nothing wrong with simple voice-and-text phones. If you don’t need mobile Internet and don’t want to pay for a data plan, they’re a great idea. But the new Pantech Breeze IV ($39.99 with contract; $209.99 without) isn’t pared-down enough. Rather than pure voice-and-text elegance, it crusts on some unusable multimedia and Web features which complicate the interface. That made sense when flip phones dominated, but nowadays, if you want that sort of stuff, get a smartphone.
Design and Call Quality
The Breeze IV would fit perfectly well into any flip-phone lineup from the last decade. It’s a large, solid, plastic phone at 4.2 by 2.1 by .7 inches (HWD) and 3.9 ounces, with a 128-by-128, 1.4-inch color screen on the front and a 3-inch, 240-by-400 LCD screen inside. The number keys are big and easy to press, and there are three speed-dial buttons above the main keypad. The phone defaults to a simplified UI that’s text-heavy and very easy to use. You can also switch it to a more traditional icon-based menu, but if you’re interested in doing that, you should buy a smartphone.
RF reception here is excellent, but call quality left a lot to be desired. Earpiece audio is loud enough but slightly muddy, and transmissions through the mic were scratchy, with noticeable background hiss. The speakerphone is loud but harsh, and transmissions through the speakerphone were scratchy and hissy as well. With 2100MHz as well as AT&T’s 2G and 3G bands, the Breeze IV will roam worldwide. Battery life, at 5 hours, 15 minutes of 3G talk time, was unimpressive.
I’m baffled as to why the Breeze doesn’t have a standard headphone jack for wired headsets (you need to find headsets that work with a micro USB port, or use an adapter which isn’t included), but at least it supports Bluetooth 2.1 for both music and voice dialing. AT&T’s proprietary GPS navigation package is also available here, for $9.99/month. The Breeze can be used as a modem for your laptop with the appropriate plan, but as it’s only at relatively slow HSPA 3.6 3G speeds, we don’t recommend it.
A little bit of trivia for you: Think this looks like a phone from 2006? That’s when the Breeze IV’s chipset, the Qualcomm QSC6270, launched.
Multimedia and Conclusions
There’s a 3-megapixel camera that also captures 320-by-240 videos at an appallingly jerky 12 fps, but stand very still, because it takes an amazing 1.4 seconds to shoot an image. Those images are also likely to look blurry and oversaturated under all but the sunniest skies. There’s about 100MB of internal memory, and the phone also supports a microSD memory card slipped under the battery.
Two built-in apps stand out: a pill reminder (basically, an alarm clock) and a camera-based “magnifying glass” for older users. The pill reminder worked fine, but the magnifier doesn’t produce a very sharp image.
The phone has music and video players (MP3 and AAC music, 320-by-240 MP4 video only), a Solitaire game, an email client, and a limited Web browser, but if you’re interested in those functions, consider a basic smartphone. Texting and e-mailing using a phone’s 9-pad is a task that should remain in the past. If smartphones intimidate you and you’re on an AT&T family plan, the Nokia Lumia 925 is free with contract right now, and it’s delightfully easy to use. It even works with gloves on.
The Breeze IV only makes sense if you’re on an AT&T family plan, where it’s $39.99 with contract. Otherwise, there are much more affordable alternatives to its $209.99 up-front price and AT&T’s expensive non-family plans: the $60 Doro PhoneEasy 618 with Consumer Cellular and the $99 Jitterbug Plus with GreatCall are both more affordable over the long term and cater specifically to the needs of older users.
I think voice phones are great, but they should focus on their key strengths: long battery life, rock-solid voice quality, and broad headset compatibility. While the Breeze IV is an acceptable addition to an AT&T family plan if you’re looking for a simple voice phone, Pantech could do better with tighter design focus.
|Phone Capability / Network||GPRS, GSM, UMTS|
|Screen Resolution||240-by-400 pixels|
|Dimensions||4.2 by 2.1 by .7" inches|
|Video Camera Resolution||QVGA|
|Battery Life (As Tested)||5 hours 15 minutes minutes|
|Available Integrated Storage||0.1 GB|
|Total Integrated Storage||0.1 GB|
|High-Speed Data||GPRS, EDGE, UMTS|
|Screen Type||TFT LCD|
|Operating System as Tested||Other|
|Screen Pixels Per Inch||155 ppi|
|Bands||850, 900, 1800, 1900, 2100|
|Form Factor||Flip Phone|
|Screen Size||3 inches|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc