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printed October 24, 2014
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Review: Pantech Link

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In the end, the Pantech Link provides some nice hardware, but it's held back by lackluster software. The keyboard is very good, especially for a device at this price point ($10 with a contract at launch). The slim shell and rubberized back make this an easy phone to carry around. The screen is fairly low-res, but that's to be expected on an inexpensive, Quick Messaging device.

My biggest complaint is with the software. AT&T's interface needs to meet the needs of the audience for this phone. Instead of a standard feature phone interface, with only the most basic messaging features thrown in, I'd like to see an interface that's all about staying in touch. A unified inbox, built in support for Facebook and Twitter, even an improved Instant Messaging app would be an improvement.

The real kick in the shins, though, is all the extra fees that AT&T tacks on to use the basic services this phone provides. As a 3G phone with a full QWERTY keyboard, AT&T already requires either a $20 messaging plan or a data plan on top of your talking minutes. To then charge an addition $5 monthly for e-mail (seriously, for e-mail?!?), then another $10 to use the new Online Locker sharing service, is completely missing the point of the Quick Messaging category. Instead of those extra fees, you might as well pick up a cheap smartphone. The Nokia E71x, which the Pantech Link somewhat resembles, will cost you $20 with a contract, plus it uses a better interface and includes all of those extra services free.

Through no fault of Pantech's fine hardware, AT&T seems to be missing the point when it comes to this phone and its audience, who I suspect want a simpler, elegant phone for quick messaging and staying in touch without spending too much on monthly fees.

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