Review: Pantech Flex for AT&T
The Flex doesn't stray too far from the stock Android 4.0 music and video tools. The Google Play Store is, of course, available for purchasing and renting music, movies, TV shows, books, and magazines. The Flex also has a simple music player and simple video player app available, in addition to the stock YouTube app. AT&T Radio is on board, and so is AT&T's Live TV service. Both are streamed over the network.
I didn't have any problems using these apps and services. They all worked as intended. I thought music sounded OK when routed through my favorite earbuds, but not fantastic. It was a bit flat. Video looked good on the Flex's qHD screen, though.
Pantech doesn't have its own content store.
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Even with the lockscreen shortcut, the Flex's camera is a wee bit too slow to open up. In fact, much of the camera software is too slow.
The controls are laid out plainly enough. Perhaps my favorite control feature is a little button that lets you toggle the HDR shooting mode on and off without having to dive into the deeper menu settings. Turning on HDR also automatically turns off the flash. Smart. The settings let users adjust most facets of the camera's behaviors (scenes, exposure, effects, image quality) without too much fuss.
I noticed the Flex had trouble with the autofocus. Focusing took a long time, and often it didn't lock down on the right subject. If you use the touch-to-focus feature, it is quicker to lock focus and more accurate. There is a Burst mode that speeds up the focusing process, but it's really only meant for capturing fast-moving action, such as the kids playing soccer.
You can probably guess what I'm going to say here. Half the images are completely out of focus. If you fire off shots willy-nilly and don't pay attention, you're going to be disappointed with the results. If your subject isn't moving, be sure to take the time to use the touch-to-focus feature.
Beyond the focus problems, exposure was uneven. I saw both bright and dark areas become overblown or lose details. On the plus side, color looked good and white balance was mostly accurate.
Unfortunately, the Flex's 8-megapixel shooter delivers inconsistent results.
Video results were actually a bit better. Focus was the one aspect most improved, but exposure was more even as well. Color and white balance remained good. The audio clarity was a little iffy from time to time, but it was more good than bad.
The Flex uses the stock Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich gallery application. The app syncs easily with your online accounts for sharing and offers a decent selection of tools for modifying images after the fact. Photos can be cropped and rotated, red eye can be fixed, and a number of effects (sepia, B&W, etc.) can be applied for fun. You can also straighten images, flip them, sharpen them, and reduce bright spots that might appear on peoples' faces if you hit them with the flash. You can't go so far as to correct white balance or exposure, though.
There are 44 apps preinstalled on the Flex, eight of which belong to AT&T. One of the standouts is Key Ring. Think Passbook for Android, but only for coupons and loyalty cards. It lets Flex owners store supermarket and other cards and take advantage of coupons directly from their device. There's also an app I'd expect to see on a Jitterbug phone, but not necessarily this one: Pill Reminder. As the name implies, this application is an alarm-clock-come-reminder tool that does pretty much what the name implies.
The Bluetooth radio on the Flex can be used for the usual tasks: phone calls and music, as well as file exchange. Calls sent through my car's hands-free system were crummy at best, but music sounded decent when sent to stereo Bluetooth headphones.
The Flex includes the stock Android browser, but it has been given an interesting new feature. It has a little pop-up bar that runs along the bottom of the screen. It's mostly for social networking. There are five icons that let you easily share whatever is on the screen to Facebook, Twitter, and just about any other social network or destination you might like. The pop-up toolbar also includes links to Yahoo-populated Sports, News and Entertainment web sites. It's not the most amazing browser tool ever conceived, but it is something. The rest of the browser performs as you'd expect from a stock Android device. As I've said many times, do yourself a favor and download Chrome for Android instead.
The Flex has its own version of the Android lock screen clock. The time is displayed in white digits in the center of the lock screen circle. Since the lock screen is a bit busy with icons, it can sometimes be hard to discern the time in a quick glance.
The Flex ships with AT&T Navigator and Google Maps/Latitude on board. They behave the same on the Flex as they do on other devices, and I didn't run into any trouble using them. The GPS radio of the Flex itself was a bit slow. It often took longer than 30 seconds to locate me. Accuracy was within about 40 to 50 feet, which is not as close as I'd like it.
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