Pantech Discover review: Unlikely hero
The Pantech Discover is stylish and affordable without compromising on functionality. If the handset had launched six months ago, it would have been one of best value offerings in the Android smartphone game. Unfortunately, it missed its chance and now it's merely a decent proposition in its price range.
The clean, curvy lines of the device, combined with the small premium touches even add an aura of desirability to it - a first for a Pantech smartphone in the United States. The 720p 4.8-inch screen, the 12.6MP camera and stereo speakers set it apart from rivals, too. Stellar performance and a host of software tricks add further appeal to the device. We are particularly impressed with the Easy Mode UI - it makes the device more accessible for first-time smartphone buyers.
We aren't particularly excited to get Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich out of the box seven months after Jelly Bean has been released, but we are hoping the manufacturer will keep its promise to release an update. Camera speed could have been better too - we've seen devices with lesser hardware being a lot more responsive.
The Pantech Discover will set you back a highly acceptable $49.99 with a two-year commitment to AT&T. Pantech's marketing department wants to convince you that choosing the device is a way to save $150 over a similarly equipped competitor. This would have easily been the case a few months ago, but today, the landscape looks slightly different.
A quick look at major retailers such as Amazon Wireless reveals that the Samsung Galaxy S III is priced at only $79.99. AT&T on the other hand, currently offers the mighty LG Optimus G for $99.99. Both devices are well worth the price difference over the Pantech offering, especially considering the total costs over the length of the contract.
It can be argued that the Pantech Discover is an attractive proposition with an off-contract price below $400. That might very well be the case, but in the US the 16GB LG-made Nexus 4 can be had for $350, and that one offers twice the processing power. By the way, T-Mobile is currently offering the Nexus 4 for $49.99 with a contract. As we see it, the only reason to pick the Discover over the Nexus 4 is the microSD card slot, which enables memory expansion on the cheap.
It seems then that the Pantech Discover won't have a particularly easy ride in the current market. Priced way closer to the smartphone heavyweights than it's comfortable, it risks entering a battle that it simply cannot win.
It's up to Pantech to improve the Discover chances by releasing the Jelly Bean update and probably slashing its price to free on contract. Focusing the efforts on a market segment where it stands a chance seems the only way to go for the smartphone, regardless of what the initial plan was. There will be enough time for Pantech to attack the high-end when the Vega No 6 hits the US.