Review: Pantech Ease
It is not obvious just by looking at the Pantech Ease that it's meant as a simpler device, but a few intelligent design decisions do help make the phone easier to use. The phone is fairly thick, but not too thick to carry in your pants pocket. It wouldn't be comfortable in tight jeans, though. The back of the phone has a dimpled texture and a soft touch finish, which makes it easy to grip.
On the front of the phone, you'll find "Call," "End" and a back button, in addition to a centered select key. The keys aren't obnoxiously large, but they are plenty wide and easy to press. Keys don't overlap much or butt up against each other. I like that the Ease uses hardware keys beneath the screen instead of touch sensitive buttons, which have unfortunately become popular on inexpensive feature phones.
All around the phone, buttons are nicely raised and easy to spot. On the left you'll find two volume keys. There's also a microUSB port with no port cover. That's a plus, because those port covers can be difficult to pull open. On the right side, there is a basic camera button. There is also a button which triggers speaker-independent voice recognition software from Nuance. I'm a fan of Nuance software, it usually works very well, and the software on the Ease was no exception.
There's a sliding screen lock key at the top of the right side. This is the only key that bugged me. The spring-loaded key can be stiff to slide down. You have to hold it down for a moment to get the screen to unlock so you can access the menus. You can also hold your finger on a software lock button on the touch screen itself, but this also required a moment of hold time. I'd like to see a better lock mechanism or, better yet, a proximity sensor to avoid manually unlocking the phone altogether.
The sliding keyboard opens with a nice snap. Keys are large, but look like they have a bit of extra room, so they could have been even larger. The bigger the better on a phone like this. Printed letters are nice and big, but the keys are a bit flat. Larger, rounder keys would have made typing much easier. The keyboard is not fussy about special symbols. Some punctuation marks (, . ?) get their own keys, but there are no shortcuts, no ".com" or smiley key. There are two keys to zoom in and out, but they didn't work everywhere on the phone. They work to make text larger in the messaging apps, but not on Web pages in the browser. Zoom keys also don't work in the photo gallery, which is just silly.