Review: Pantech Marauder for Verizon Wireless
The Marauder is fairly thin, as far as sideways sliders go. This device type is quite often bulky and lacking in the style department. The Marauder suffers neither affliction. That's probably because it's been put through the "squish" effect. It's thinner, but has a fairly tall and wide footprint instead. Though it makes use of black-on-black coloring (as any marauder should) it still manages to show a little bit of personality thanks to the design.
The quality of the device, its materials, and how well it is assembled impressed me. Pantech is perhaps most well known for its entry-level devices. The Marauder doesn't feel entry-level at all. It's a solid phone that's been put together well.
The semi-rough texture of the battery cover provides enough friction so that it won't slip through your fingers, but the side and front surfaces are all smooth and comfortable against your skin. It's thin and light enough that you won't have trouble dropping it into a pocket and forgetting about it for while.
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The only controls on the front are four capacitive buttons below the display. Even though the Marauder runs Android 4.0, it has Back, Home, Multitasking, and Menu keys. Pantech did something interesting with the menu key. As in Android 4.0 itself, the button's icon is three vertical dots. These same dots appear in the system software from time to time to let the user know that there are options available. Using the same icon on the hardware itself will help new Android 4.0 users learn their way around the software better.
The volume toggle is on the left, and is somewhat hard to find. I wish it had more travel and feedback. The microUSB port is below it. The power/lock button is on top, as is the 3.5mm headset jack. I thought the button worked well.
The slider mechanism has a good feel to it. There's no grating or grinding, just smooth action. It's spring assisted, so you don't have to push it too far before the springs take over and snap it open or closed.
The QWERTY keyboard itself is a generous, five-row affair. The top row is reserved for numbers, and the remaining four are for letters and other symbols. I like that the keyboard includes dedicated period and comma keys. It also has directional arrows for positioning the cursor in text, and dedicated shortcuts for the SMS app and browser. The buttons have a decent feel to them. Travel and feedback is quite good, but I wish the keys had just a bit more shape. As they are, I found them to be somewhat flat. Overall, though, it's a solid keyboard.
The battery cover fits perhaps too snugly. The clasps are tight enough that I had to break out my jackknife to pry the cover off. Sadly, you have to remove the battery to access both the SIM card and the microSD card slot.
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