By Daniel Webster | February 17, 2012 8:28 PM
Over the years Pantech has come out with some innovative cellphone designs, but has failed to impress consumers. Recently though, the Pantech Burst debuted on AT&T with some cutting edge features that surprised the smartphone industry because they aren’t things you’ll find on a budget device. To get your hands on a snappy processor, a Super AMOLED display, and the capability to access 4G LTE for AT&T, you’d usually have to pitch for a high-end smartphone, but the Burst came to change that. Read on to find out if the Burst is able to redeem the Pantech brand and if it will be your next Android smartphone.
Included in the box are the basic essentials to get up and running such as the Burst itself, a USB wall charger, a micro USB charging/sync cable, the battery cover (which comes in two colors), a micro SIM card, and the 1620mAh Li-ion battery. A few items missing that would make the Burst complete are a headset and a microSD card, but it does make sense at this price point.
The Pantech Burst has similar features to high-end Android smartphones and is capable of outperforming some of them. The screen of the Burst is a 4-inch WVGA Super AMOLED display (800 x 480) behind a glass capacitive multi-touch digitizer.
The dimensions of the Burst are 65.2 x 126.5 x 11.4 millimeters, and it weighs 122 grams with the battery included. The internal memory is 16GB and can reach 48GB with a microSD card (not included). The device has many radios included such as quad band GSM (850, 900, 1800, 1900), tri-band UMTS (850, 1900, 2100) which is capable of HSPA+ (21Mbps speeds), 4G LTE Capability on AT&T, Bluetooth 3.0, assisted GPS, and Wi-Fi b/g/n. The sensors included are light, proximity, gyroscope, and accelerometer. There are dual microphones for noise cancellation, and a mono speaker for audio playback and speakerphone. The ports include a 3.5mm headset jack and a microUSB 2.0 multiport.
The main camera of the device is capable of capturing stills of up to five megapixels in resolution and record 720p HD video at 30fps. The rear camera also has a single LED flash. The secondary camera is able to snap photos and record video at VGA resolution.
The Pantech Burst comes equipped with an adequate 1650mAh lithium-ion battery that AT&T states can delivers up to 450 minutes of usage and 10 days of standby time.
The Pantech Burst ships with Android 2.3 Gingerbread with a few proprietary enhancements to the user interface. Many of the apps that come preloaded on the Burst are trials or lite versions, but Pantech has added quite a few useful utilities.
AT&T has also added their own apps in the mix, but thankfully many of their apps can be uninstalled. This open approach will appeal more to power users or anyone that finds AT&T’s proprietary software obnoxious.
The 5MP camera, with a single LED flash, not only takes good still photos but also does a good job in recording 720p HD video even while transitioning between exposures. The front facing camera will take stills and capture video at VGA resolution.
The photography software of the Burst has many appealing advanced settings. They range from customized effects to professional quality user specified settings. The burst takes good photos outside, but indoor shots are somewhat lacking.
Performance is where the Burst was most surprising. It’s expected that a budget device from any manufacturer would under-perform in this category, but this handset definitely proved otherwise. Transitions between screens and apps are quite snappy with negligible lag experience. The benchmark tests are as follows:
Quadrant Standard 3030
SmartBench 2012 Productivity: 2093 / Games: 3008
LinPack Pro Single Thread: 53.465 MFLOPS in 1.57 Sec / Multi Thread: 81.403 in 2.07 Sec
As we mentioned earlier, the Burst comes equipped with an adequate 1650mAh lithium-ion battery. AT&T claims that it can delivers up to 450 minutes of usage and 10 days of standby time. In our battery drain tests, we must admit those numbers were very close to exact, but on HSPA+. On average the Burst would last a little over a day with moderate use. Sadly AT&T’s 4G LTE isn’t easy to come by in most of the United States, so even though we weren’t able to test the battery drain on LTE, you already know those numbers will most likely drop dramatically bellow what’s in writing.
CALL QUALITY/NETWORK SPEED
The audio quality of both the ear speaker and speakerphone was clear. At no time were there any dropped calls in the Seattle metropolitan area. Thanks in part to AT&T’s strong network; the Pantech Burst seemed to never drop a bar of reception. The rear speaker provided excellent audio playback and volume. The speakerphone worked very well even during calls with a lot of highway noise in the background.
The network speed of the Burst on HSPA+ is good. Download speeds were around 8Mbps and uploads were consistently around 2.5Mbps average. The AT&T 4G LTE service is not available in many areas at this time and was unable to be tested.
PURCHASING AND AVAILABILTY
The Pantech Burst is available now AT&T for a reasonable subsidized price of $49.99 with a qualifying two-year agreement. The non-subsidized price is $399.99. Both purchasing methods from AT&T come with free overnight shipping.
+ Super AMOLED Screen
+ Call Quality
+ Build Quality
+ Mobile Hotspots
+ Most proprietary apps can be uninstalled
+ 4G (HSPA+ and LTE)
+ Low price tag
- No Headset or micro-HDMI Cable
- Limited LTE coverage
- Low indoor camera performance
- No microSD card
Pantech has not had the best reputation over the years for their build quality and support, but if the Burst is a preview of what is to come, Pantech might redeem their brand. With the excellent call quality (especially using the speakerphone), the limited number of proprietary apps, and high quality feel, the Pantech Burst might make consumers reconsider purchasing a more expensive device. Previous Pantech users who stated they would never get another Pantech device were enthralled with the Burst’s snappy responsiveness and ease of use. If Pantech is able to cause this reaction with others, they will be quite the contender against other smartphone heavyweights.
We rate the Pantech Burst 3.5/5.