Check out our full review of the Pantech Crossover here. Does this sporty QWERTY slider for AT&T have what it takes to compete?
Pantech Crossover Report
Pantech, makers of the Duo, Slate, and Laser, are back with their first Android phone. The Pantech Crossover is a mid-range touchscreen QWERTY slider running Android 2.2.1 and hosting a 600MHz Qualcomm chip with Adreno 200 GPU. We found this phone to be ideal for the active user, thanks to its grippy back panel and rubberized buttons. However, the Crossover is more like those old Sony Sports Walkman portable cassette players in that it's styled for the athlete, but not particularly rugged, though it looks like it. Regardless, it was a surprise in that the phone did everything we asked of it quite well and never gave us any trouble. This phone is not for the power user lusting after Thunderbolts and Sensation 4Gs, but it does have its audience. For $70, the Pantech Crossover (specs) should be one of the best options in AT&T's fleet within the sub-$100 price range. But with phones like the HTC Inspire 4G ringing in at $100, it might be difficult to resist the enticing world of advanced smartphones before settling on a Crossover.
The Crossover is a relief to look at after being bombarded with troves of nondescript black Android candybars on a daily basis. It features an octagonal shape, thanks to its flat corners, and is highlighted with yellow pinstriping. The back of the phone is textured for grip and the front has two haptic feedback and two tangible button controls for the Back, Menu, Home, and Search controls. The Crossover has two rubberized buttons at the top two corners of the phone—one is the Power/Lock control and the other is the Function key, which acted more like a shortcut button for quick access to several applications.
The Crossover is smaller than the iPhone 4, but it's twice as thick. That's because it hides a full slide-out QWERTY keyboard that snaps out with expert precision. This is a nice keyboard with an intuitive button spectrum, relying on the Alt key for half of the action. We found plenty of typing real estate available on the Crossover's keyboard, and were highly impressed with its sensitivity. But the phone also had a virtual keyboard with swype when the keyboard was lying dormant.
Speaking of touchscreen action, it has a 3.1-inch LCD with a 320x480-pixel HVGA resolution and 262K colors. There was nothing special about the phone's display. In back, the phone showed off its 3-megapixel camera lens housed in a utilitarian metal frame, and an accompanying Camera button lived on the side of the phone for convenience. The phone was light on memory with a 2GB MicroSD card slot right out of the box, and it was equipped with a standard 1500mAh battery.
Software and Interface
Although we're dealing with more of a budget phone, the Pantech Crossover did not disappoint when it came to speed. The phone is piloted by a 600MHz Qualcomm MSM7227 chip with Adreno 200 GPU and 512MB of RAM. That Adreno 200 GPU is the same one found in last year's HTC EVO 4G and all of the Windows Phone 7 devices we've reviewed so far, so no wonder the phone was so responsive. Of course it's no dual-core, but the Crossover was able to get things done snappily. Networks were limited to Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n and AT&T's 7.2 HSDPA/5.8 HSUPA data waves. No DLNA, but we did get Bluetooth 2.1 out of the deal.
Although the Pantech Crossover receives Android 2.2 at a time when Gingerbread is about to become the standard, the phone's interface is polished. From the round icons in the dropdown menu to the circular patch that's digitally peeled away to unlock the screen, the Crossover was a typical Android phone that infused its own particular tweaks throughout. The phone offered 5 Home screens that could be customized with widgets, though Pantech's widgets were strickingly similar to the Android ones. The Function key prompted a list of commonly used applications and programs that could be customized with various entries on the list. After reviewing dozens of high-end Android smartphones, the Crossover could do it just as well, thanks to its intuitive interface.
Although we didn't get Flash support on the Pantech Crossover, the phone succeeded in playing YouTube videos from the browser, even though they were embedded in their own player. This was just like the iPhone, so there was not much of a surprise there. The Internet menu was superbly designed, especially the Windows portion. We could view thumbnails of the pages we had open along the bottom and scroll through them while the selected page remained as a large icon in the center of the screen. Pinching and zooming, double-tapping and zooming, flicking, swiping, were all well behaved on the Crossover, and we kept forgetting that it was only a $70 phone.
Multimedia and Productivity
Courtesy of the Adreno 200 GPU, the Crossover could handle intense games like Speedx 3D and Glow Hockey. For the active users, Pantech included a Compass and Allsport GPS application, which was like a personal trainer inside the phone. There was also a distance and size Converter, AT&T Navigator, Document Viewer for Office documents, and a robust Google suite. It offered Facebook and Twitter out of the box with widgets to match, and there was even an All Inboxes email widget for combining all of our email accounts into one. The Contacts system was great, featuring black and green graphics with a side scrolling menu bar at the top that allowed us to access the Phone, Call Log, Favorites, Groups, and even YP Mobile. For a mid-level Android phone, the Crossover rocked.
Call Quality/Battery Life
Battery life on our Pantech Crossover review unit was great, and provided us with advanced longevity throughout the duration of our tests. Battery life will be the last of your worries with the Crossover.
The Crossover has a 3-megapixel camera without a flash and is capable of shooting 800 x 480 widescreen standard-definition videos. Still image quality was mediocre, although certain bright light shots were impressive. However, the camera struggled in low light and overall video and sound quality was poor. Obviously, it's not a super shooter, due to its lack of flash and basic image sensor. We did like the dedicated Camera button on the side of the phone, and the Crossover did offer a few funky effects and useful manual controls, but Pantech needs to take the camera to the next level if they want the next version of this phone to be competitive in that department (check out photo and video samples).
Pantech Crossover – infoSync Diagnosis
Pantech's first Android phone is a solid choice. Its polished, unconventional interface was welcomed and its modest processing guts surprised us with a snappy performance. We liked the octagonal, sporty design, in addition to the full QWERTY keyboard.
A phone like the Crossover will be reliable, offer a stellar battery life, and excel when it comes to calling and texting. We saw the full Google support and 3D gaming capabilities as a bonus, based on the phone's classification, and it should give models like LG's Phoenix, Optimus S and Vortex runs for their money.
However, we'd like to see a better camera and screen on Pantech's next creation, in addition to more memory out of the box. But then we're talking about a price hike. When it comes down to it, you can go for the Inspire 4G for $100 or the Pantech Crossover for $70. Those who are more into the outdoors lifestyle will most likely spring for the Crossover.