Pantech Matrix Pro Review

matrix-proI just got a BlackBerry Bold a few weeks ago after my Treo 750 died (may it rest in peace). I was still in the honeymoon phase with my BlackBerry – oohhing and aahhing over its features, downloading applications like Facebook for BlackBerry and TwitterBerry, busting it out while waiting in line at the grocery store to discover more of its new features – when I was asked to review the new Pantech Matrix Pro. How could I say no? It’s a brand new phone, and it looks pretty sleek. I’ve never used a phone with both a QWERTY and numerical keypad, so I was eager to test that out. First impressions are everything, and my first impression of the Pantech Matrix Pro was that it’s heavy. Weighing in at 5.34 ounces and with dimensions of 4.2 x 2.0 x 0.9 inches it’s not exactly slim. Technically, the BlackBerry Bold weighs 0.5 ounces more, but for some reason the Pantech Matrix Pro feels much heavier. For a night out, it would take up significant space in my clutch purse and could not be conveniently slipped into my jeans pocket. But, it’s not a piece of jewelry, so let’s move on to the more important stuff…I mean, it is a cell phone so let’s talk about functionality.

Sound quality while using the cell phone is good. The person you’re talking to comes in nice and clear, and it sounds just as good on the other end of the line. However, I can’t say the same thing when you’re using the speakerphone. The sound isn’t as clear and background noise is noticeable. I did like the threaded text messaging. This feature is a must for someone like me who exchanges text messages frequently.

The phone’s display is bright and wide enough for easy viewing, though I noticed there can be a delay switching from horizontal to vertical and vice versa. I have to say, however, that the user interface leaves much to be desired as it offers limited customization capabilities. Surfing the Internet on the phone was fine. The screen was nice, clear and bright.

The Pantech Matrix Pro runs on Windows Mobile 6.1 so you have access to applications like Microsoft Mobile Office Suite and Microsoft Direct Push for email and messaging. It was a simple process setting up my personal email account, and it easily synched with my Outlook contacts, calendar and tasks. I was pleased with the AT&T 3G speed on the phone as I was able to quickly download attachments and video clips. Unfortunately, the phone does not have Wi-Fi capabilities. The Pantech Matrix Pro does have Bluetooth capabilities. It also has built-in GPS that can be used with AT&T Navigator.

As for the keypads, I had a bit of difficulty figuring out which key was for what at first. There are two soft keys located on the right and left of the keyboard. They’re not really marked clearly, nor are they raised keys, so it took me awhile to realize they were functioning keys. The numerical keypad is also flat, so if you’re one of those people who like to dial numbers while multi-tasking and not looking at the keypad, don’t try it on this phone because you could end up calling the wrong number. The QWERTY keypad is fairly easy to use, though it took me awhile to get used to it since I had been so accustomed to the Treo keypad and just mastered the BlackBerry keypad. While I had no problems punching in letters, I should note that I have small hands (some would call them “dainty”). I think someone with larger hands would have some trouble using the keyboard. I also realized I am not a fan of dual keyboard phones. Sliding from vertical to horizontal can be cumbersome.

The cell phone includes a 2.0 megapixel camera that I’m not too wild about. There’s a camera key on the bottom right side of the phone. I had to press this button multiple times to get the camera interface to come up, and it took a few seconds to load. I like the 7x digital zoom, as well as the ability to shoot in four different modes and to use effects like Sepia and Negative. However, the camera lacks a flash, and the quality of the images I shot were just mediocre. I also tried out the video feature, and the quality of the video was not very good…but that’s why I carry a Flip Mino HD wherever I go.

The Pantech Matrix Pro is available through AT&T for $180 with a two-year plan and after a $50 mail-in rebate. It’s a good phone as far as basic features, but I prefer a phone with better camera capabilities and one that doesn’t require sliding from vertical to horizontal. Back to the BlackBerry…