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Review: Pantech Link

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Is It Your Type? Body The Three S's  

The Pantech Link is a very basic slab QWERTY phone. I could compare it to any number of BlackBerry or Samsung smartphones, but it most reminds me of the Nokia E72, with its super thin shell and metallic banding. It's a very light phone, and that may lend a cheap feel to the device, but I definitely appreciated the comfortable weight in my pocket. This is one phone that won't stick out in a pair of jeans. The phone has a rubberized, textured back that made it easy to hold, and even easier to rest on a slightly inclined surface. It's comfortable to hold, but with its flat shape I wouldn't call it ergonomic.

The exterior of the Pantech Link lacks any bells and whistles; buttons are a plain Jane assortment. You get a volume rocker on the left, a camera button on the right, both nicely raised and curved to find easily. The navigation buttons weren't great, especially the 4-way button in the middle. The bottom of the circular d-pad cuts off where it abuts the keyboard, and my fingers occasionally found the "T" or "Y" keys when I meant to press down.

The keyboard is surprisingly good for an inexpensive messaging phone. The keys are each individually raised domes, with enough space in between that typing was a breeze. The keyboard layout was pretty good, too. You get a dedicated ".com" button, which is nice, though I might have traded the dedicated "?" for an "@" key, just to complete the theme. For messaging and entering Web addresses, the keyboard did a fine job, and typos were rare.

Pantech uses a proprietary port for USB, charging and headphones. It's time to give up the proprietary designs and move to microUSB, like the rest of the world. For one thing, microUSB would mean I could lose the proprietary charger and not worry about special ordering a new one. I've tried to find a Pantech charger at an AT&T store; it's nearly impossible. For another, Pantech and AT&T are stingy with accessories, and the phone lacks a USB cable or handsfree option out of the box. I'd like to see a 3.5mm headphone jack, but barring that option, at least a microUSB port would give me more options than Pantech's proprietary dreck.


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