Pantech is a brand you're going to hear more of in the U.S. this year. They have actually been producing phones for the U.S. for many years; Pantech is the company behind the Audiovox (now UTStarcom) 8000-series phones. But starting this year, Pantech is phasing out its relationship with UTStarcom and starting to brand and distribute phones here on their own.
The first true Pantech phones for the U.S. are a couple of low-end phones on Verizon. Although they are Pantech phones, you won't see a Pantech logo on them, thanks to Verizon's heavy-handed policies about phone branding. Pantech would actually have pay Verizon, or commit to a large marketing campaign, to be allowed to put their logo on the phone. So all you'll see is a model number that starts with "PN" to indicate the manufacturer.
The PN-215 is already available for Verizon through some channels. It's the same phone as the Audiovox 8915 (Snapper) already available for Virgin Mobile. It's a basic camera phone, almost exactly like the 8910 it replaces.
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An even more basic model - the PN-210 (above) - will be available later this month. It won't feature WAP, BREW or any really features beyond enhanced messaging. It does have speakerphone and voice dialing, though, which are fortunately becoming baseline features for most phones these days.
The next few phones on Pantech's road map are the replacements for the PN-210 and PN-215: the PN-310 and PN-315.
The PN-310 (above) is the more basic model. It's being pitched to carriers, but we got the feeling its release is not guaranteed.
The PN-315 is the camera-equipped version (VGA). It's not feature-packed, but it does have speakerphone, and it is impressively small and light. BREW, speakerphone, voice dialing and an OLED outer display round out the features.
The PN-315 is also surprisingly stylish; it almost seems like by shedding the Audiovox relationship, Pantech has finally been set free to create phones with decent design. Both the 310 and 315 also have excellent keypads.
Pantech also has a couple of slim phones in their lineup this year. It's amazing how much Motorola's RAZR and SLVR phones have influenced phone design these days...
The PN-320 is the slim clamshell CDMA model. It's very slim and light, and still manages to squeeze in a camera and external display. It also sports BREW (or Java,) MMS, speakerphone, and voice dialing.