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printed November 22, 2014
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Review: Pantech Crux

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Is It Your Type? Body The Three S's Touch  

The Crux is a thin, slab-style touch phone. It feels dense and heavy, but makes use of luscious materials. The glossy plastics on the front feel great in the hand, as does the swirly ribbed pattern on the back. The overall fit and finish is solid, and the Crux will easily slip into a pair of jeans.

What's odd about the Crux is that it is a vertical slider, but not in the way that you might suspect. The top half of the Crux is smaller than the bottom half, leaving a Frankenstein-esque forehead jutting out at the top. On the forehead is a little icon of a lock. When the slider portion is down, the phone is locked. To unlock the Crux, slide the top half up to cover this little lock symbol. That's all the slider does. It doesn't reveal a QWERTY keyboard, or even a numerical dialpad. It only unlocks the phone -- something that could be accomplished with software or a lock button. The slide-to-unlock idea is interesting, but offers no other use. Thankfully, the slide mechanism feels extremely strong and solid. And guess what happens if you leave the phone in the unlocked position for a while, but don't use it? It locks itself via the software, and you have to use a software bottom on the screen to unlock it. (Sigh.)

Pantech has built the microUSB port into the left side of the Crux. It is covered by a small hatch that is easily opened. The volume toggle is below this hatch. The volume toggle is a bit too small for my tastes, measuring perhaps but 1cm. A larger toggle would be easier to use.

The right side of the Crux is busy with buttons, perhaps too busy. Starting closest to the bottom, Pantech has placed a toggle key. One side of the toggle is for the camera, and the other side is for voice actions. This is a design disaster. These keys are literally attached. I must have accidentally activated the voice actions as often -- if not more than -- the actual camera. Terrible move, Pantech. Above that, your thumb will encounter the power button. All this button does is turn the phone on and off. Next is a hatch covering the microSD card port. It is easily accessed. Last, and closest to the top, Pantech has made at least one smart move by including a 3.5mm headset jack.

The top edge of the Crux houses dedicated media player keys. The three buttons (Back, Play/Pause, Forward) are all large, easy to find, and have good travel and feedback. It's obvious at first glance what they are for.

Pantech has made some confusing design choices with the Crux that don't help with basic usability. That leaves me scratching my head.

 

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