Phone Scoop

printed November 26, 2014
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Review: Pantech Ease

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Considering the Pantech Ease is admittedly designed for an older crowd looking for a simple device that is easy to use without squinting or precise aiming, Pantech gets a lot right, but misses a few key opportunities. The hardware is well designed without looking too much like a business phone. The hardware keys are easy to use without looking big and goofy. Many phones aimed at an older crowd can look like children's phones, like the Jitterbug devices. The Ease is equally appealing to any crowd looking for a simple messaging device.

The interface is also well designed in the Easy Mode. It's simpler, with large buttons and fewer, unnecessary options. It might be missing out on some key features, like the Social Net app and the music player, but most of the stuff that's important is available with a simple tap. I also like that the Easy Mode relies more on taps than swiping gestures, since the screen is better suited for this sort of interface navigation.

Still, some of the features that should be great fall flat. My mother, who is almost 60, takes loads of pictures with her phone, and often sends text messages. The camera on the Pantech Ease is lousy, with few options to upload pics or share them with friends. Text messaging, for some strange reason, is easier to use in Advanced Mode, which gets threaded messaging, while the Easy Mode makes you read messages one at a time.

I would trade almost every other feature on the phone to make the camera and messaging apps great. My mother never, ever uses her phone to listen to music, browse the Internet or navigate from place to place (her car has built-in GPS). Social networking and email might interest folks to whom I'm not related, but I'm guessing these other features are just extras cluttering the device. The Ease seems to ignore advances in technology in the Easy Mode, as if threaded messaging is complicated because it's new.

In the end, though, the Ease is the simplest phone I've used with a full QWERTY. I would have no trouble recommending the device to my own mother, and I imagine this phone could cut down on support calls so that we could focus on what's important . . . teaching her how to use her iMac.

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