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printed December 20, 2014
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Review: Pantech Matrix Pro

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The Matrix Pro more closely resembles the Ocean 2 (also made by Pantech) than it does the Pantech Duo, which is the spiritual predecessor of the Matrix Pro. It has the soap-bar shape of the O2, but thankfully comes with a somewhat smaller footprint. It is shorter and narrower than the O2, but it is thicker. In fact, it measures nearly an inch thick. That's fat. It's also a bit on the heavy side. Combining the fatness and weight, and you have a serious anchor weighing you down.

Despite its bulk, the Matrix Pro feels good in the hand. Its curved edges are comfortable and smooth to grip. The upward sliding mechanism (to reveal the numeric keypad) feels great. There's a nice amount of spring assistance and it jumps open smartly and feels solid. The sideways sliding mechanism doesn't have quite the same quality feeling to it. There's a minimal amount of spring assistance, and it feels a bit rough. Also, when open sideways, the top part of the slider is loose. There's a lot of side-to-side play that degrades from the quality of the phone.

The controls on the front face of the phone are squished uncomfortably down at the bottom. They're so squished, that I found myself opening the phone in order to make it more comfortable to use. The D-pad almost touches the very bottom edge of the phone, and reaching it while the phone is closed can leave the phone unbalanced in your hand. The D-pad is about the size of a quarter and has a good edge to it. The action is OK. Packed around the D-pad are six other buttons. The soft keys and send/end keys are built into the surface of the Matrix Pro. The two soft keys are easy enough to find and use, but I thought the send/end keys were too tightly mashed below the D-pad. The home and back keys are circular buttons that stand out starkly compared to the surrounding controls. These two buttons have excellent travel and feedback.

The volume toggle and voice record key are found on the left side of the Matrix Pro. These buttons are practically perfect. They are easy to find and have great travel and feedback. The camera key on the right side of the phone works just as well as the others. Also on the right side is the hatch covering the data/charging port. This hatch is a total pain to use. It refuses to open all the way unless you really work at it. What's worse is you know you'll be using this hatch all the time (probably daily) to charge the phone. Conversely, the hatch protecting the microSD slot on the bottom of the phone nearly pops open easily.

As for the QWERTY keyboard and number pads, they are acceptable. The QWERTY has three rows, which means is doesn't quite have a standard layout. The space bar is inserted between the V and B keys. Rather than place the number keys along the top row, the Matrix Pro packs them on the right side of the keyboard, shared with the UIO, JKL and BNM keys. The keys have good travel and feedback, but it is impossible to tell where you thumbs are on the keyboard without looking. There are no physical indicators to tell you which row or column your thumb is hovering over.

The numerical keypad is perfectly flat. The keys
are well spaced and have good travel and feedback, but it is a little hard to tell what you're pressing without looking at the keypad.

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