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on October 25, 2011
ORIGINAL REVIEW (see updates below):

This is the second Pantech phone I've had. The first one was functional and reliable, and so I didn't hesitate (much) to try this smartphone. I liked the features, and I got it during Amazon's 1c sale, so you can't beat the price (unless you can get it free). I've had it for a week.

I was upgrading from the Motorola Droid (circa 2009), which I loved. This time I opted for a phone without a physical keyboard because I'd been using Swype, which comes pre-installed on the Breakout. Because I was familiar with Android v2, the Breakout seems updated yet familiar. Some of the keys (back, home, menu) are in a different order on the Breakout, which takes some getting used to. There are seven "pages" where you can put shortcuts or widgets vs. five on the Droid. That makes organization a little more important, otherwise I'll be swiping the screen to hunt for the shortcut I want.

The pros include:
lightweight
great OS
Swype (don't have to install the Beta)
mini USB input jack has a cover
power/wake button is conveniently located on the side
camera resolution is decent
voice quality is good
has voice control function that actually recognizes names in my contacts list

Cons include:
Speakerphone isn't very loud or clear
Battery life is disappointing, even with screen brightness turned down
Useless, unwanted apps (such as Lets Golf 2) can't be uninstalled
User guide is weak

I installed Advanced Task Killer, and after killing all apps except ATK, the following apps are restarted automatically:

Google search
Weather
Gmail
VZ Navigator
Blockbuster
Voicemail
Email
Slacker
City ID
My Verizon Mobile
Mobile IM
Alarm/clock

Some of these apps are essential and I'd always want them to start up. But some aren't. I don't use Blockbuster and don't want it on my phone, but there it is, sucking down my battery life. Slacker is a personal radio, for which I don't even have an account. When you start up VZ Navigator, you see a warning:

"This application requires data usage for download and use which will be billed to your account according to your plan, feature or bundle."

Even if I decline, the app runs whether I want it or not.

City ID displays the city & state of an incoming call. Nice if you get a lot of calls from unknown callers, but I only give my cell number to family and friends.

The Breakout's not blowing me away with its awesomeness, but I'm happy with it despite these annoyances.

Edited to add:
4G range is wider than expected. The Verizon coverage map says that I'm 10+ miles outside the 4G zone, but when I'm at the dog park in the middle of town (trees around but no buildings), I get 4G. At home, only 3G as expected.

11/4/11 update: When I said the battery life is disappointing, I wasn't kidding. I charge the phone overnight and unplug it around 8am. If I don't charge it during the day, I hit 10% battery by about 8pm. This is with some light texting and maybe a call or two. It has shut off on me before 9pm due to low battery. I have the screen timeout set to 15 seconds and tried setting the screen brightness to Auto or about 1/4, but that made little difference. :/

12/26/11 update: I frequently get errors on the Pantech home page if I try to open an application too quickly after unlocking the phone. It's one of those errors that gives me the choice of waiting or force-closing the Home application. It's rather annoying. The phone is also sometimes very slow to respond to commands. I've discovered a trick to extending the battery life is to use a wallpaper other than the animated default image that comes with the phone, and turn animations off. It means not using some of the built-in features, which somewhat defeats the purpose of having a cool smartphone, but it's less frustrating than running out of juice at 6pm.

Conclusion: I might go back to using my old Droid until I'm eligible for a new phone (almost 2 years!). I definitely WON'T be buying another Pantech. I'm lowering my review from 4 stars to 3.

9/18/12 update: I'd lost the phone for several months and didn't miss it. When I found it again, I took it to Verizon to reactivate it and ask what they can do about the horrible battery life. The lady suggested I get a larger capacity (2300 mAh) battery (PN: VZW18995BATX) for $49. I figured that it was worth a try. So far, this battery is holding plenty of juice and hasn't gotten below 50% during a single day. It does make the phone thicker (it comes with its own back to accommodate its larger size), but it has eliminated my largest complaint about the phone. I'm not changing my star rating because it's an add-on, but if you've been frustrated with the battery life, it's worth considering.

2/6/13 update: I went to the Verizon store to see if one of their sales people could help configure my phone to use less power and put more apps on the SIM card rather than the core memory. She tried everything I tried and gave up. The problem is that with only 1GB RAM, there's not much room for add-on apps, many of which do not provide the option of running from the card. I ended up closing my account & taking the hit on the early termination fee in order to get a decent phone. The frustrations were too high with this Pantech.

I absolutely cannot recommend this phone for anyone who wants a *smart phone* to run add-on apps with. If you only want the basic functions and apps that come with the phone, you might not become as dissatisfied as I did. I could not find instructions for rooting it in order to remove the useless apps taking up all the storage space.
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on November 10, 2011
The Skinny:
Overall an amazing phone. Inexpensive but not cheap looking or feeling, lightweight and thin, this phone is great for mobile users and those that need 4G speeds but don't want to dish out $200 just for the phone. Although battery life may be a problem, this is standard of smartphones and 4G phones especially. A few well-chosen apps like Juice Defender and the GO Launcher EX Task Manager (A must!), as well as turning off WiFi/GPS will keep the battery life sufficient for a full day of normal use such as email and texting. Rooting the phone allows greater usability and functionality (duh) and further increases battery life (no more bloatware draining the battery to auto-update). Factory software allows for mobile tethering at amazing 4G speeds (mine tested at 14mbps!).

All of these facts combined makes this phone ideal for mobile on-the-go budget users who need 4G speeds and don't want a phone weighs as brick (or have the dimensions of one; I'm still trying to understand the logic behind a phone with larger than a 4.0 inch screen...is it supposed to be a tablet replacement?).

EDIT: February 13, 2012- I'm editing this review to reflect my 5 months of usage. Although in the beginning the phone was what I wanted- 4G speeds without the 4G price- this phone has a huge long list of issues that frankly cannot be dealt with. After rooting my phone and removing the bloatware, the fact that there is only 380mb of internal memory- 300 of which is used by the system and cannot be freed- makes this phone at best a compromise. Bluetooth functionality is terrible- this phone constantly disconnects, fails to connect, or simply freezes when attempting to connect. Software updates that are pushed onto the phone (61mb...) further make the internal memory problem worse, which in turn causes the phone to freeze even more consistently. Honestly, the only thing that's good about this phone is that you can throw it at a wall and it'll just bounce right off- in other words, its a great brick of a phone. Even my Blackberry Storm/Storm II didn't freeze nearly as much as this one. Also, you need to root and then use a google app (like Barnacle Wifi) to tether it (edit from what I said before).

I've taken my review from 5 stars to 2 stars to account for these issues.

Old Review:

The Long:
I previously had a Blackberry Storm/Storm II. I used my phone mainly for business (Calendar, Email, etc.) and quick on-the-go info (Google Maps, Movie Showtimes, Weather). I wanted more functionality out of my phone and Blackberry has an atrocious app store and even worse choice in hardware (my phone was akin to a brick in my pocket; some poor family in Africa could probably use my phone as a critical component in constructing their house), so I chose to go with an inexpensive Android-based phone with 4G Speeds: The Pantech Breakout

Pros:
-Lightweight (lightest of the VW 4G phones) and thin, screen is the perfect size for a smartphone (AKA it isn't a massive monstrosity that won't fit in your pocket and cover half your face when you talk). The way I see it, I already have a tablet (IPad), why would I want to lug around another in my pocket that has less functionality?
-Amazing VW 4G speeds (14mbps!)
-BUILT IN WIRED/WIRELESS TETHERING APP FOR MOBILE USERS (4G internet anywhere you go!)
-Sturdy build, textured back of phone provides great traction for 1-hand on-the-go texting/surfing and overall construction doesn't look or feel cheap
-Built in Swype Keyboard (if you're into that)
-Incredible deal when compared to other 4G phones (~50% the price)

Cons:
-Serious battery issues, but this is standard with smartphones and even worse with 4G phones. I turn off my WiFi/GPS whenever I'm not using them to save battery life, and it lasts about 15 hours of normal usage (text, email, etc.)
-Low Internal memory keeps getting in the way (~384mb of internal memory, so you have to keep transferring your apps to your SD card; however, this is also a pretty standard problem with Android phones)
-Doesn't have a dual-core processor for you developers out there (I doubt normal users need the halved battery life but the doubled multitasking capability)
-Camera is decent but not amazing
-Pantech stock software sort of sucks (Their Home app only allows 7 pages of apps, their widgets take up way too much memory, etc.)
-Bloatware out the bejesus. Let's Golf 2 and Blockbuster apps? WTF why?

To fix the CONS, I rooted my phone (just search Pantech Breakout Root on Google) and removed the bloatware (also helped with the battery problem) and downloaded a bunch of battery-saving apps (Juice Defender!)

A MUST if you want a nicer UI: GO Launcher EX (trust me, you get a better looking Home page, better widgets, task manager widget to kill apps easily from your home screen...)

Summary is at the start of the review...
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on April 18, 2014
I purchased this phone about 2 weeks ago. For 2 weeks, I have been using the phone and observed it really closely to find its pros and cons.
Pros: Price. For a price of under $60.00, it is almost impossible to find other 4G LTE phones made by major companies. Price is the biggest winner in this phone.
Ok reliability -- Like other reviews, it is true that it freezes and may lose calls. But it does not happen all the time, they happen occasionlly.
Reception is tolerable. At first, I thought the reception was horrible. But after removing the vinyl safety film that had covered the speaker, it became OK.

Cons:
Tends to freeze a lot, especially when you are doing something that requires a lot of memory. Definitely not a phone for heavy game players or data users.
Blackout possible. When it freezes, it is also possible for the phone to black out.
Touchscreen reaction is not the best of all. Many times you have to push the icon twice or three times until you get the reaction.
Battery runs out rather fast. I am not a heavy phone user at all. I rarely talk on the phone, I never play games, just occasionally use internet browser, navigation app, and Amazon kindle app for reading books. With a minimal use, the battery does not last a whole day. It is a good idea to purchase an extra battery and carry it around, with chargers so that you can frequently charge it.
Must get the SD card along with the purchase of phone itself. It has very little, almost non-existent internal memory, and without a SD card, you cannot even save contacts.

Overall, an OK phone. Not so horrible, but when you think about the price and 4G LTE on the top of it, I would definitely recommend this phone to the people who are on the budget, not a heavy phone user, and first time smartphone users. People who have had smartphone previously from other major companies would not find the phone satisfactory, but for the starters and savers, this phone would be recommendable.
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on September 9, 2014
Excellent for the price. I broke my iphone 5 and was not due for an upgrade for a few more months. So I hit up amazon and saw this gem. Thankgod I did because for 40 dollars I got a really good phone ( shockingly ) and can upgrade when I have to but still have a replacement while I wait. This phone would be great for most people even in full time use, it has everything basically my iphone 5 did. No clue how they can sell this so cheap...
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on September 13, 2014
Purchased this phone as a temporary replacement while my HTC One M7 phone was being repaired by HTC. I wasn't expecting anything similar in performance or features (this phone came out in 2011), but having a spare smartphone on hand whenever your primary smartphone is being repaired was a no-brainer, especially at $40.00.

Verizon doesn't have a "loaner" program and won't supply you with another phone (while yours is being repaired), unless you send your phone to them. They have plenty of inventory if you agreed to this Advanced Exchange program, but suddenly they have zero inventory for you to use, if you send your phone to the manufacturer for repair.

I was in the unique situation where I purchased my current phone (HTC One M7) outright, so that I wouldn't lose my grandfathered unlimited data plan. I also didn't want a refurbished phone from Verizon that might have the same defect as mine (pink/purple haze when taking pictures in low light or when the phone was running warm). HTC is fully aware of this issue and agreed to pay for shipping both ways and to cover the repair at no charge, so I decided to allow HTC to perform the repair and that I would need a smartphone in the meantime to use while mine was out of commission..

The biggest knock on this phone is the internal storage, which out of the box and with the pre-installed apps/bloatware, leaves zero room to add any other apps and you'll soon be receiving the annoying message that your internal storage is almost full.

The solution is to root the phone and to apply the Breakout ROM, which removes almost all of the Verizon bloatware. Then, install Titanium Backup to backup a few other apps to the SD card, then remove those as well and move any others to the SD card. Internal storage issue resolved and I'm now able to perform basic activities, like check Facebook, email, and surf the web without running out of internal disk space.

I must admit that I do like some of the features on this phone more than my HTC One M7, namely the SMS/text app, the email app, and the volume on the phone when placing/taking calls.

When I get my HTC One M7 back from the manufacturer, I'll just give this phone to my 9 year old daughter to use with Wifi to play games on and I will now have a backup smartphone to use just in case.

Shame on Verizon for forcing their customers to always have a backup smartphone in the event that their primary smartphone needs to be repaired.
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on October 18, 2011
This phone is pretty awesome. Fast 4G speeds and decent specs. i have had no negative experiences with this phone. Super customizable with android 2.3 Gingerbread. The processor seems to handle many many processes at once with ease. fast browsing and awesome battery life (if you set auto screen brightness). Bright and vibrant colors. very nice. and affordable. The physical shell of the phone has a very nice grippy feel to it with the textured, rugged plastic on the back. easy to hold and slim. Thats why i say "Miracle."
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on October 6, 2011
A great phone. Easy, easy, easy!!! I am in my sixties and was concerned that a smart phone would be to complicated for me. I chose this phone because I had a regular Pantech and liked it, also there was a great deal. I have not been sorry. Would buy again.
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on September 30, 2011
This is a great phone! It's easy to set up, easy to navigate and just plain easy to use. The interface is very smooth and it comes loaded with plenty of apps. You can get even more at the Android app store. We currently only have 3G in my area, so I can't rate the 4G experience, but it's still pretty fast. I'm very happy with this phone. It's a great value for the money.
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on November 10, 2013
Phone's receiver is not strong keeps cutting out during conversations. Switches to 3G more often than 4G. The memory is very limited and camnot accommodate much more than the aps that it was delivered with. The battery runs out very quickly even when idle. The samsung stratosphere II managed more apps efficiently.
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on October 10, 2012
The Pantech Breakout is my first smart phone. So, I don't have much in the way of comparison.

First, my carrier is Verizon. I cannot comment on how this product would perform with other service carriers. Nevertheless, here are my impressions after using the device for about three months now:

1. Call Quality -- It is great. No problems whether using an bluetooth earpiece or not.

2. 4G LTE -- Downloads and uploads are very, very fast.

3. Size -- Not sure, but it has a 4-in screen. The length of the phone is about as large as I can comfortably carry on my belt.

4. Screen -- To my eyes, the quality more than meets my needs. Text is clearly defined and readable. Colors look awesome. Moving graphics look great. Although I know that there are screens with greater pixel density, I am not going to be using my phone to watch movies or play games. And even if I did, I would believe that the tiny 4-inch screen display would clearly render the tiny movie and game images.

5. Construction -- I am a bit clumsy and have dropped the phone a number of times. Other than some scratches on the case, the screen did not break. This seems to be a well-made and durable phone.

6. Camera -- I am an amateur photographer with a good SLR Canon with a high quality lens. When I want shots for a family album or to share with friends, this is what I typically use. However, having a small built in camera on my phone is pretty cool. And the Pantech camera has a 5 mg photo sensor. Would I get rid of this phone to get a camera with an 8 mg sensor? Nope. In the world of photography, 8 mgs or 5 mg sensors are BOTH now hopelessly out of date.

With that being said, the 5 mgs on the Pantech is great for that spur of the moment shot that I can instagram to my friends. If I have a picture I want to print, I can still upload it to my computer, do some digital adjustments to the color or whatever, and then upload to some site for printing. And a 5 mg shot will still allow me to easily enlarge to sizes at least 8 in x 10 in. My recommendation: Don't get fooled that you have to have 8 mgs or you pictures will be awful. At one time not long ago, a digital camera with a 5 mg sensor was the absolute "state of the art". For what we are using them for, the 5 mg cell phone cameras are, in my opinion, plenty adequate.

7. Operating System. This is Android, as you know. I have always had Windows computers, so I am used to the occasional bug in the system or the need to reboot. At least to me, using Android on a phone is similar to using Windows on my computer.

8. Battery life -- If you get this phone, "splurge" for an extended battery. It still won't be as good as some of the newer phones are reported to be, but it is, at least for me, livable. It is the primary reason why I did not give the phone five stars.

9. Memory -- In my opinion, I wish the phone had more internal memory. However, it can expand up to 32 mgs with a micro SD card which I have done.

10. CPU -- I don't know the specs on the Pantech's internal computer chip. For me, it was 'I don't care'. I don't need a PHONE with a CPU powerful enough to run my business. Whatever CPU it does have is fast. Very fast. And with 4g, it downloads and uploads quickly. However, I am not a gamer. Thus, there might be situations where playing a game on a tiny, tiny 4 or 5 inch screen, instead of on your computer monitor or your TV screens of 40in or 50 in., might require a slightly faster or more sophisticated chip set.

My final recommendation: The Pantech Breakout is a great purchase if you want to make receive calls with good voice quality; if you like 4g; if a 4-inch screen that has good color rendition and smooth graphics (keep in mind I am not a gamer), and if the ability to take 5 mg pictures (which look fine when uploaded to the internet) works for you.
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