Verizon Wireless said it will discontinue its $2.99 Visual Voicemail service come July 8. All customers who use the Visual Voicemail app will be transitioned to Verizon's free, basic voicemail service. Verizon says customers won't lose their existing voicemails, but may need to make room in their voicemail inbox, as well as reset their voicemail greeting. The list of phones impacted by the change is significant, including old and new models from BlackBerry, Casio, HTC, Kyocera, LG, Motorola, Nokia, Pantech, and Samsung. Verizon did not say why it is discontinuing the Visual Voicemail service.
Pantech's U.S. operations filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy today, following similar legal moves in the company's home market of Korea. The company has been in receivership since August and put itself up for sale last month. Chapter 15 bankruptcy is reserved for organizations that need to protect themselves when their international parent company becomes insolvent. Pantech has been trying to restructure its debt all year, but has so far failed to do so. It believes it can get about $366 million by selling off the entire company. If there are any bids for the failing phone maker, they have not yet been made public.
Pantech, based in Korea, has staked a For Sale sign in its front lawn. The company, which declared the equivalent of bankruptcy last month, is seeking a buyer to scoop up the entire business. Pantech has been facing trouble all year long. It twice sought delays in debt payments and entered into court receivership in August. The company believes it will fetch a higher price if sold as a single entity (approx. $366 million) rather than broken up and sold in pieces (approx. $181 million). Bids for the company are due in early October. Pantech found itself unable to compete with Samsung and LG, which are also based in Korea. It faced financial losses six quarters in a row, which led to its debt problems and eventual bankruptcy.
Pantech filed for court receivership today, which is the South Korean equivalent of declaring Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company has seen its share of the global market drop precipitously. More importantly, it is no longer able to compete against the likes of LG and Samsung in its home market, according to The Wall Street Journal, where a month long sales ban further crippled the company. Pantech has spent the last few years juggling with its finances. Last year, it accepted investments from Samsung and Qualcomm, which own 10% and 12% of the company, respectively. Even with these investments, Pantech owes creditors about $961 million - or double the amount of assets its has. Pantech only brought three models to the U.S. in 2013, and hasn't brought any in 2014. If Pantech's court receivership is accepted by the bank, it will have about a year to come up with a restructuring plan.
Pantech today announced the Vybe, a quick messaging device that features both a touch screen and a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. The Vybe, which is an update to the Ease, includes a 3.2-inch 400 x 240-pixel display with three customizable home screens. The Vybe can also be put into Easy Mode, which simplifies the home screens and menus for inexperience users. The Vybe uses a proprietary, Java-based operating system. The Vybe offers a 3-megapixel camera and can be launched quickly thanks to a dedicated button. The Vybe also includes shortcuts to social media apps, and a number of AT&T services, such as Drive Mode, Navigator, Address Book, Family Map, and myAT&T. Other hardware features include a 1230mAh battery, and support for HSPA data and Bluetooth. The Pantech Vybe will be available online and in stores beginning May 23. AT&T is asking $30 with a new two-year contract.
Pantech has reached out to its creditors in hopes that they'll allow the ailing firm to restructure its debt. At the moment, Pantech owes creditors more than the entire market capitalization of the company. "Through this [debt] workout, we expect to improve Pantech's financial status and secure a stable flow of liquidity," said Pantech. Pantech's creditors haven't yet agreed to the proposition. Pantech announced reorganization plans last September. It furloughed hundreds of employees, and is no longer selling phones outside of its home market. The last device Pantech brought to the U.S. was the Breeze IV for AT&T.
AT&T recently added the Pantech Breeze IV to its lineup of inexpensive flip phones. The Breeze IV is a simple device, but offers a large 3-inch main screen with 400 x 240 pixels, and a 1.44-inch external screen with 128 x 128 pixels. The Breeze IV includes three quick-dial buttons, as well as dedicated buttons to access the camera and speakerphone. The Breeze offers Easy Mode with simplified menus, Slow Speech to make calls/voicemail easier to understand, and large keys and fonts for improved accessibility. Other features include a 3-megapixel camera with LED flash, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, support for microSD cards, and basic messaging/media apps. The Breeze IV costs $39.99 with a new two-year contract.
Park Byeong-yeop, the vice chairman of Pantech, announced today that he will resign from his post. Park founded Pantech in 1991 and served as its leader for more than a decade. He cited the company's poor smartphone sales performance in recent years as the reason for his departure. Further, Pantech is restructuring its finances and is asking 800 employees (about 25% of its total workforce) to take a voluntary six-month leave of absence. Verizon Wireless sells the Pantech Perception, an Android smartphone. It is one of the only Pantech devices to reach the U.S. this year.
AT&T today announced that it is pushing the Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean update to the Pantech Flex. In addition to the standard Jelly Bean features, the update also adds some accessibility capabilities to the Flex, such as support for external Braille input/output devices and Gesture modes for visually impaired users. The update may be downloaded and installed over the air.
Samsung today confirmed that it has made a $48 million investment in competitor Pantech, which gives it 10% ownership of the company. "The investment is aimed at solidifying our relationship with Pantech, a key component customer of Samsung," said the company in a statement. "Samsung will have no involvement in Pantech’s business management in any way or form." The two competitors already collaborate on semiconductor and display technologies. Pantech sells a mix of feature phones and smartphones in the U.S. through AT&T.
Verizon Wireless today announced that the Pantech Perception, a global Android smartphone, will go on sale beginning April 25. According to Verizon, Motion Sense is the Perception's stand-out feature. Motion Sense allows Perception owners to answer phone calls, scroll through the contact app, flip through photo albums, or advance songs by waving their hand in front of the device. This feature is similar to Air Gesture on the Samsung Galaxy S 4. Other features of the Pantech Perception include a 4.8-inch 1280 z 720p HD Super AMOLED display; 8-megapixel main camera and 2-megapixel user-facing camera; 1.5GHz dual core processor with 1GB of RAM; LTE, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, Wi-Fi, and mobile hotspot; and 16GB of on-board storage. The Perception will ship with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, but will be updated to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean quickly. The device will cost $99.99 after $50 mail-in rebate with a new two-year agreement.
Documents seen on the Federal Communications Commission reveal an unannounced handset from Pantech for Verizon Wireless. The Pantech Perception is a monoblock Android smartphone that the FCC confirms supports LTE 4G in addition to CDMA and GSM for roaming, and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The FCC also confirms that the Pantech Perception includes NFC, and images show an 8-megapixel camera with flash on the rear of the device. The draft user manual refers to other features such as microSD card support, Wi-Fi Direct, HFMI, and DLNA, though these are not confirmed. Based on screenshots, the Perception runs Android 4.x. Neither Pantech nor Verizon Wireless has announced the Perception, and pricing and availability are not known.
Pantech announced the Discover today, a high-end handset for AT&T. We were able to spend a few moments with it and here are our first impressions.
AT&T today announced the Pantech Discover, a new smartphone that has a 4.8-inch 720p HD display and runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. The Discover includes a 12.6-megapixel camera with 4x zoom that can capture 1080p HD video. The Discover will be the first AT&T smartphone pre-loaded with the AT&T DriveMode application, which is meant to help prevent distracted driving. It also ships with the Easy Experience mode for first-time smartphone owners, which simplifies some of the home screen and settings arrangements. Other features of the Discover include NFC, LTE, a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, 16GB on-board memory, 3D surround sound, 2,100 mAh battery, and SwiftKey. The Pantech Discover goes on sale January 11 for $49.99 with a new agreement.
Pantech has made the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich system update available for both its Burst smartphone and Element tablet. The upgrade includes all the standard improvements inherent in Ice Cream Sandwich, such as face unlock and the holo theme. Changes specific to the Burst include new self-portrait and panorama capture modes in the camera, and a time-lapse recording function in the video camera. Both devices are sold by AT&T. The update must be downloaded and installed through a laptop or desktop computer.
AT&T today announced the Pantech Flex, and new Android smartphone that includes an "Easy Experience" mode for those upgrading to their first smartphone. The Flex runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and can quickly switch between a standard Android user interface and the Easy Experience. The device features a 4.3-inch qHD Super AMOLED display and a 1.5GHz dual-core processor and includes SwiftKey's virtual keyboard. It also includes an 8-megapixel main camera with 1080p HD video capture, and a 2-megapixel user-facing camera. The Pantech Flex supports AT&T's LTE 4G network. It goes on sale September 16 for $49.99 after mail-in rebate with a new agreement.
Pantech today announced that it will add business-grade encryption and security features to its future Android smartphones. Pantech plans to use AuthenTec's QuickSec Mobile VPN Client and SafeZone FIPS 140-certified secure platform in order to meet the security requirements of its carrier partners and potential business customers. The VPN software means Pantech's smartphones will be able to securely access corporate networks behind the firewall, and the encryption software will allow Pantech device owners to protect their data. Pantech didn't specify which devices would be first to offer the bolstered security features. AuthenTec is in the process of being purchased by Apple.
Pantech today revealed that its next LTE 4G Android smartphone for AT&T will be called the Flex. Pantech said the device will be available in the coming weeks, but didn't provide more information about the phone.
Verizon and PCD today announced the Pantech Marauder, a 4G LTE Android phone with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard and a "starter mode" for people new to Android or who prefer a simpler interface. The starter mode has four home screens with preset widgets, including a dialer, and a simplified lock screen. On-device guided tours also help new users learn the ins and outs. There is also a standard mode for users wishing more standard Android. Users can switch between modes at any time without losing any settings or data. Other features include a 5-megapixel camera, 1.2 GHz dual-core processor, 1 GB of RAM, mobile Wi-Fi hotspot, DLNA wireless media streaming, and a memory card slot. Distributed by PCD, the Marauder will go on sale August 2 for $100, with two-year contract and before $50 rebate.
Pantech and AT&T today revealed the Renue, a "quick messaging device" with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard and rugged design made from 67% recyclable materials. The phone doesn't require a smartphone data plan, but uses Qualcomm's BREW-MP platform to provide smartphone-like features, including a touch screen and multiple customizable home screens. The Renue is similar to the pantech Swift, but with a larger screen, better camera, and the rugged shell. The Renue is tested and rated to military specs for sand, dust, extreme temperatures, humidity, vibration, and sun. The phone is available starting today for $70 with two-year contract.
Pantech's latest quick messaging device for AT&T is the Swift, a cute little touch-and-type slider that brings some personality back to the world of cell phones.
AT&T today announced a new QWERTY- and touch-equipped quick messaging device, the Pantech Swift. This sideways slider has a full physical keyboard as well as a capacitive touch screen. Its runs the BREW MP operating system and offers customizable home screens and widgets. The Swift focuses on messaging services, including Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace in addition to email, SMS/MMS, and IM. Features of the Pantech Swift include a 2.8-inch 320 x 240 display, 2-megapixel camera with video capture, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, 3.5mm headset jack and media player, and support for microSD cards up to 32GB. The Pantech Swift includes 3.6Mbps 3G data and is available online and in stores starting today for $69.99 with a two-year contract after mail-in rebate.
U.S. Cellular has started selling the Pantech Verse, their version of Pantech's Jest 2 for Verizon. The compact feature phone sports a landscape display and vertical sliding four-row QWERTY text keyboard. The phones's features are basic, including a 2-megapixel camera and a memory card slot. U.S. Cellular is selling the phone for $30 with two-year contract
Pantech and AT&T recently made the Android 2.3 Gingerbread system update available to the rugged Crossover smartphone. The Crossover shipped with Android 2.2 Froyo, and the update brings a number of new features and performance improvements to the Crossover. The update must be installed via a Windows-based computer, and is not available for download and install over the air. Instructions are available on Pantech's web site.
AT&T today published a list of devices that it plans to update to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich in the coming months. The devices include the LG Nitro; the Motorola Atrix and Atrix 4G; the Pantech Burst and Element; and the Samsung Captivate Glide, Galaxy Note, Galaxy S II, Galaxy S II Skyrocket, and Galaxy Tab 8.9. These devices will all be updated in the coming months, according to AT&T, but more precise times weren't provided.
Pantech today said that it is holding discussions with Microsoft about licensing certain smartphone patents. "We are in talks with Microsoft over the patent use, but specific details have not yet been decided," a company spokesman said. A number of Android device makers, such as LG and Samsung, have licensed smartphone patents from Microsoft. Pantech sells several Android-based devices, including the Pocket and Crossover.
Pantech was one of a slew of companies that outed new Long Term Evolution 4G gear for AT&T today. The Pantech Burst is a nice little $50 LTE 4G smartphone.
AT&T today announced six new LTE phones, some with record-breaking high-resolution cameras.
- Sony Ericsson Xperia Ion, an Android phone with a 12-megapixel camera with Sony Exmor R sensor and 4.7-inch full HD display. A front camera also supports 720p capture. It also sports HDMI-out and is PlayStation Certified.
- HTC Titan II, with a 16-megapixel camera and a 4.7-inch Super-LCD display. Powered by a Qualcomm 1.5 GHz Snapdragon S2 processor.
- Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket HD, with a full HD display measuring 4.65 inches, powered by a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor.
- Samsung Galaxy Note, with a huge 5.3-inch display that borders on tablet size. A stylus is included, but not required. 1.5 GHz dual-core processor.
- Samsung Exhilarate, an affordable LTE smartphone with a 4-inch Super AMOLED display and made from 80 percent recycled post-consumer materials.
- Pantech Burst, with 4-inch Super AMOLED display and Android.
The FCC this week approved a unique phone with specific radio functions that suggest AT&T may be planning to deploy LTE technology in the 850 Mhz frequency band. The Pantech P9070 will be the first phone to support LTE 850. It also supports the standard set of modes for an AT&T LTE phone, including LTE in the 700 and 1700 bands, plus GSM and WCDMA. The specific LTE 700 band supported by the P9070 - band 17 - is unique to AT&T. AT&T deploying LTE in the 850 band could be a "plan B" in case the company is unable to purchase T-Mobile USA. Re-farming the 850 MHz band for LTE would allow AT&T to deploy a robust LTE network nationwide, although migrating customers away from GSM and WCDMA technology in that band - without disruption - could be challenging in many markets.
AT&T today announced that the Pantech Pocket Android 2.3 Gingerbread smartphone will go on sale starting November 20. It will cost $49.99 with a new agreement. The Pocket has a large, 4:3 aspect ratio display and a 5-megapixel camera.
AT&T today announced via its Twitter feed that the Pantech Pocket, Samsung DoubleTime, and Samsung Captive Slide will be available starting November 20. Price points were not disclosed.
Intellectual Ventures recently announced that handset maker Pantech has agreed to license a selection of its patent portfolio. In addition to access to Intellectual Ventures' patent portfolio, Pantech can also participate in Intellectual Ventures' IP-for-Defense program, which helps protect companies from patent-based litigation. Pantech didn't disclose what patents it licensed, and terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
One of the more interesting devices announced during the CTIA trade show this week is the Pantech Pocket. This Android smartphones offers a wide(r) screen than most other Android devices and is a fine phone from Pantech. Here are our initial impressions.
Pantech had a handful of its newest devices available at CTIA. We spent a few moments with them. Here are our initial impressions.
AT&T announced a slew of new Android smartphones today from Motorola, Samsung, Pantech, and ZTE.
- Motorola Atrix 2: The Atrix 2 is a follow up to this year’s Atrix with a few spec bumps. It includes a dual-core 1GHz processor with 1GB of RAM; 4.3-inch qHD display with 960 x 540 pixels; and a 2GB microSD card. The Atrix 2 can access AT&T’s HSPA+ network at 21Mbps. It also includes an 8-megapixel camera with LED flash, 1080p HD video capture, fast-camera start-up, and a user-facing camera. The Atrix 2 runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread, supports HDMI mirror mode, Motorola’s Lapdock accessory, and Zumocast.
- Samsung Captivate Glide: This sideways slider has a 4-inch Super AMOLED Plus display in addition to a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. It features a dual-core 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, 1GB of RAM, 1GB of internal storage and support for microSD cards up to 32GB; Android 2.3 Gingerbread; 8-megapixel main camera with autofocus, flash, and 1080p HD video capture; a 1.3-megapixel user-facing camera, and support for HSPA+ at 21Mbps.
- Samsung DoubleTime: This Android 2.2 Froyo smartphone has a dual-screen design and a flip form factor that features a 600MHz processor with 260MB of RAM; a 3.2-inch 320 x 480 pixel display; 3.2-megapixel camera with video capture, and voice recognition. It supports microSD cards up to 32GB.
- Pantech Pocket: This Android 2.3 Gingerbread phone has a 4-inch display with 600 x 800 pixels; 5-megapixel camera with flash and 720p HD video capture; support for 32GB microSD cards; Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, and 600MB of RAM.
- ZTE Avail: This device is aimed at customers of AT&T’s prepaid GoPhone service. It has a 5-megapixel camera with autofocus and video capture; 512MB of RAM and 512MB ROM, 3.5-inch touch display; Wi-Fi, and Android 2.3 Gingerbread.
Verizon Wireless and Pantech today announced the Hotshot, a thin, touch-based feature phone that has a 3.2-inch touch display and a 3.2-megapixel camera with video capture. The phone features three home screens that can be customized with user-preferred content and apps and a full suite of messaging and social networking software. The Hotshot includes the Opera Mini browser, Bluetooth, GPS, and supports microSD cards up to 32GB (2GB card included). The Pantech Hotshot goes on sale October 6 for $99.99 after rebate with a new agreement.
AT&T recently began selling the Pantech Link II, a follow-up quick messaging device that includes a back-lit QWERTY keyboard for typing. The Link II also features a 2 megapixel camera with video capture, Bluetooth 2.1, media player, support for microSD cards up to 32GB, speakerphone, and a number of messaging and social networking applications. The Pantech Link II is available from AT&T.com for $9.99 after rebate with a new agreement.
Verizon Wireless today announced the Pantech Jest 2, a global vertical slider feature phone. The Jest features a 2.4-inch display, 2-megapixel camera with video capture, Bluetooth, Opera Mini, and support for microSD cards up to 32GB. It runs Verizon's feature phone platform, which includes V CAST Tones, VZNavigator, and other Verizon-branded services. The Pantech Jest 2 will be available online at beginning Sept. 29 for $79.99 after rebate with a new two-year agreement.
Verizon Wireless and Pantech today announced the Breakout, a new Android 2.3 Gingerbread smartphone that supports Verizon's Long Term Evolution 4G high-speed market. The Breakout is a monoblock handset that features a 4-inch display with 480 x 800 pixels, a 1GHz processor, 5-megapixel camera with 720p HD video capture, and VGA user-facing camera. It also includes Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0, GPS, and support for up to 10 Wi-Fi devices via mobile hotspot. The Pantech Breakout will be available in Verizon's stores starting September 22 for $99.99 after rebate with new agreement.
AT&T today announced that all of the Android handsets it has released in 2011 will receive the Android 2.3 Gingerbread system update. The Motorola Atrix 4G will receive Gingerbread starting today, and the HTC Inspire 4G will have access to Gingerbread in the coming weeks. Other devices to receive the update include the LG Phoenix, Pantech Crossover, Samsung Captivate 4G, and Samsung Infuse 4G. AT&T will announce Gingerbread availability for these other devices closer to when the update is ready. AT&T said Gingerbread will be available for install over Wi-Fi, 3G, and via PC, depending on the device.