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Friday, May 10, 2013

Pantech Perception

Pantech Perception is the latest addition to the lineup of this cell phone maker. Smartphones from this company are well known with their mid range hardware and the quite budget friendly price tag at which they are delivered to the market.
Perception has been updated with a larger 4.8” Super AMOLED display, 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, and an 8MP camera, while maintaining a 2-year contract price of $99.99. While this is a good price-point for consumers, other higher-end phones that came out last year can now be purchased for around the same price, such as the Samsung Galaxy S III ($99.99) and the Motorola DROID RAZR HD ($49.99), which makes the price of the Pantech Perception appear not as attractive.
Included in the retail package is the Pantech Perception smartphone, 2020mAh battery, wall charger with microUSB cable, and user guides.
Even though the Pantech Perception is slightly larger overall than the Samsung Galaxy S III, its corners and edges are more square and not as rounded, making it feel less comfortable in the hand when held for long periods of time. However, the overall appearance of the materials used on the Perception gives the device an attractive look, and we appreciate that the rear battery cover is matte and slightly textured, instead of being glossy and slippery.
Above the display is a standard 2MP camera, while on the left side is the volume rocker, and on the right is the power/lock key, which are easy to find since they are raised and slightly rounded from the surrounding edges. Up on top is a 3.5mm headset jack and an out-of-place microUSB port, as we believe having it near the bottom of the device would make more sense. Around on the back is the 8MP autofocus camera with LED flash, and removing the battery cover will allow access to the microSD memory card slot and 4G SIM slot.
We are glad to see that the Perception comes with a nice sized 4.8” Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 720×1280. As to be expected with Super AMOLD screens, colors are fully saturated with black-levels being pure. Text is also sharp and clear. But when used in direct sunlight, we found the screen is quite hard and hard to view.
One thing to be mindful of is that since the Perception lacks capacitive control buttons under the display, it uses on-screen soft keys, similar to the Motorola DROID RAZR HD, which does take away some of the display’s real estate (about 0.30”). Some people prefer the on-screen keys, while others like dedicated capacitive buttons – as it comes down to personal preference.
Our main disappointment with the Pantech Perception is that it comes running Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich. That would have been fine a year or two ago, but in 2013 there really is no excuse for it not to have Android Jelly Bean, as even the LG Lucid 2 comes with Jelly Bean. Hopefully we will see this on a future software update.
With that in mind, the Pantech Perception uses a layered skin over Android, similar to what we saw last year on the Pantech Marauder. There is both a standard mode and a starter mode, depending on how comfortable you are using the device, as the starter mode has larger icons and text and quick tips to walk you through different features. The app drawer can also be changed to view your apps by different groups, alphabetically, or by downloads. There is also a nice selection of widgets, such shortcuts, calendars, clocks, photo albums, and weather.
Missing are any type of themes, which we usually see on LG and HTC devices, but you can select 3 different colors (white, green, or black) for use with the phone’s dialpad.
Naturally, the Pantech Perception does well with the included Android core apps, such as E-Mail and Gmail, contacts, and calendar. A few other apps included are Color for Facebook, Document Viewer, IMDb, NFL mobile, Real Racing 2, Shark Dash, Slacker, Verizon Tones, VZ Navigator, and Zappos.
Processor and Memory:
Running things on the Pantech Perception is a Qualcomm 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 MSM8960 processor with 1GB of RAM. This allows the device to be plenty quick when opening apps, and there is no noticeable lag when moving between the home screens.
As you can see from the benchmark tests, the Perception does well compared to other dual-core phones, such as the LG Lucid 2, Motorola DROID RAZR M, and Samsung Galaxy S III.
We are glad to see that the Perception comes with 16GB of internal memory, though only 9.6GB is left available for use out of the box. But if you happen to need more room, you can always install a microSD memory card up to 32GB.
Internet and Connectivity:
The Perception comes equipped with a standard web browser, though you can install Chrome or Dolphin if you desire. It renders pages just fine, with kinetic scrolling and pinch-to-zoom working without a hitch.
Since the device makes use of Verizon’s 4G LTE data network, we used the app and were able to get 15 Mbps downloads and 5 Mbps uploads, with a signal reception of -102dBm. Naturally, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0 is supported. We were also glad to see that the Perception comes with Global Roaming capabilities, for use with GSM 850/900/1800/1900 MHz and UMTS/HSPA 900/2100 MHz while overseas.

As most of you know, more megapixels don’t always translate to a better quality picture, and this is the case with the Pantech Perception. Even though it comes equipped with an 8MP autofocus camera, every image that we took regardless of light level looked soft, grainy, and almost blurry at times. We made sure the lens was clean, and that the tap-to-focus was working. But as you can see, the results aren’t anything great, and even color reproduction is dull and lifeless.
For video recording, the Perception is capable of Full HD 1920×1080 at 30 frames per second. But again, the video looks hazy instead of sharp and crisp, and colors are lacking. Needless to say, we are quite disappointed when it comes to the camera on the device.
The music player is easy to use with tabs across the top for accessing songs, albums, artists, genres, folders, playlists, ratings, and most played. The sound produced through the rear speaker is loud enough, and the different equalizer and bass boost options do help some, though using wired earbuds are the way to go.
Playing videos on the 4.8” Super AMOLED screen look great, with eye catching color and plenty of contrast. We were able to play MP4, H.264/263, DivX and Xvid files up to 1080p resolution without any issue.
Call Quality:
The voice quality while using the Pantech Perception is a mixed bag. Even though voices on our end were plenty loud, they sounded “sharp and digital” instead of sounding natural. People that we called also said that we sounded more digital on their end, and they could easily tell we were using a cell phone. The 1X signal was a bit below average with only -98dBm of signal reception showing.
Battery:Even though the 2020mAh battery on the Pantech Perception is larger in capacity than the one that came with the Pantech Breakout and Marauder, it is still a bit less than we would like to see. The specs says it can provide up to 11 hours of usage time or 11 days of standby time, but during our testing we were only able to get 8.5 hours of continuous talk time, or about 1 day of mixed usage on a full charge – meaning you’ll have to charge the device nightly.
If we were back in January, the Pantech Perception would be a halfway decent mid-level smartphone for the price. But as we mentioned earlier, with higher end devices from last year being discounted down to under $100 on-contract, it is really a tough sell for the Perception. Even though we like its 4.8” 720p Super AMOLED display, overall styling, and ease of use, the poor camera quality and digital-sounding call quality is holding it back – not to mention it comes running Android Ice Cream Sandwich instead of Jelly Bean. At this point, the Samsung Galaxy S III or Motorola DROID RAZR HD can be purchased for the same or less than the Perception, yet offer a higher quality device and experience.

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