Small square-shaped messaging phones have been a trend for a while now, and Pantech is one of the few handset makers to embrace the design early on with phones like the Reveal and the Pursuit. The latest to join the family is the Pantech Jest, a compact little handset complete with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. It's geared toward the young texting crowd with messaging, e-mail, and social networking apps and it has a 2.0-megapixel camera and a music player to keep them entertained. Our major problem with the Jest lies in its optical directional pad, which we found to be a bit of an annoyance. The Jest is otherwise a decent messaging phone, available at the unbeatable price of free for a two-year service agreement with Verizon Wireless.
The Pantech Jest has a design similar to its AT&T cousin, the Pursuit. At 3.7 inches long by 2.5 inches wide by 0.6 inch thick, it is slightly square-shaped with curved corners and rounded sides, which results in a stubby yet compact design that fits perfectly in the hand. Its front surface has a glossy reflective sheen, while the back is textured to provide a firmer grip when held. The Jest is relatively lightweight at 4.1 ounces.
On the front of the phone is a bright and colorful 2.6-inch color display. Sporting a 320x320-pixel resolution and 262,000 colors, Pantech did a great job here. The animated wallpaper really pops from the screen, and the graphics and text look clean and crisp overall. You can adjust the clock format, the backlight time, the menu layout, general font types, menu font size, and the size and effects for the dial font.
Underneath the display is a navigation array that consists of two touch-sensitive soft keys, a round optical directional pad, a Send key, a music player shortcut key, a Clear or Voice command key, and the End/Power key. On standby, swiping the directional pad to the right will reveal a My Shortcuts pop-up that lists up to four user-defined shortcuts. The optical sensor was not as responsive as we would like. We found that we needed to apply a certain amount of pressure for it to read our finger swipes, even after we adjusted the sensitivity level to high. Sometimes we would be scrolling along just fine, only for it to stop occasionally because we didn't swipe the pad the right way. It's probably usable most of the time, but we imagine it might be especially annoying if you're in a hurry.
On the left spine is a 2.5mm headset jack, a volume rocker, and a speakerphone key, while a Micro-USB charger port, camera key, and Task Bar key are on the right. The Task Bar key brings up a shortcuts bar along the bottom row of the home screen that corresponds to the dialing app, the favorites list, call history, messaging, Verizon services, the music player, the photo album, the contacts list, and tools. The microSD card slot is on the top, and a camera lens and a self-portrait mirror are on the back.
The Jest slides open vertically to reveal a QWERTY keyboard underneath. The keyboard is a little crowded due to the small size of the phone, but the keys have a nice raised texture that still made it fairly easy to type and dial by feel. The number keys are outlined in orange, and the keyboard also has shortcuts for the Favorites list, the notepad, and a new text message.
The Pantech Jest has a generous 1,000-entry phone book with room in each entry for five numbers, two e-mail addresses, a street address, and an instant-messaging screen name. You can add a photo to a contact for caller ID, and you can assign him or her to a group too. There are also 26 ringtones and alert sounds that you can use to customize each contact.
Some of the phone's basic features include a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, a calculator, a tip calculator, a calendar, an alarm clock, a stop watch, a world clock, a notepad and an e-diary. You also get an interesting app called Self Icon that lets you to create your own icons and banners via a dot-matrix layout. Other features include USB mass storage, voice command, a mobile Web browser, GPS with VZ Navigator support, and Bluetooth profiles for A2DP stereo, Object Push, and File Transfer.