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printed October 30, 2014
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Review: Pantech Jest

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I could excuse many flaws on the Pantech Jest, but I can't forgive the problems I had with every aspect of the messaging features. Messaging is the most important draw for this phone. Forgetting the slow and ineffective Web browser, the lousy camera, the confusing music transfer and the lackluster calling options, if the Pantech Jest had only delivered on the messaging options, I might have been able to recommend this phone. Instead, when I tried sending messages, connecting with my social networks and checking my email inbox, everything came to a standstill.

Text messaging was unreliable, with a mystifying mix of menus and interface screens. The social networking and email apps simply did not work for me, no matter how many hoops I jumped through. I had to create dangerously simple passwords to access these services, and then found the effort, and the risk, was not worth the payoff. Even if my fingers were dainty enough to enjoy the small keyboard, the email and Social Beat apps didn't provide a reliable experience to make typing worth while.

Messaging wasn't the only fatal flaw I found, though. The optical direction key stymies all enjoyment of this phone's design. I like having plenty of customization and shortcut options, an impressive array for a basic quick messaging phone, but mostly I used these options to avoid the direction key. The optical button up front was unresponsive to the point of almost complete failure. There wasn't an app on the phone that wasn't hurt by this poor navigation choice.

The market for feature phones with a full QWERTY keyboard is thriving, second only to smartphones, so there's no need to settle for a device like this. Almost every other full QWERTY phone I've tried has performed better, especially in the messaging features that truly matter to interested buyers.

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