Pantech's Cellphone Nods, but Doesn't Bow, to Needs of Seniors

Breeze handset from AT&T offers a step toward simplicity while keeping many features.

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When closed the Breeze's only external button is for volume.
When closed the Breeze's only external button is for volume.

Playing with the Pantech Breeze confirms that this cellphone has done less than others to be simple. That's not necessarily a bad thing, because it gives seniors and other lesser-techies a range of ease versus power in handsets.

The phone is an attractive clamshell with a white exterior and silver-and-white interior. Big buttons make the keypad more accessible than most standard phones.

Numbers and letters appear to be printed in a dark grey that looks nice with the silver case. Jet black, though, would've made the labels pop for those with failing eyesight. That's typical of the phone's nod, instead of a full bow, to the needs of seniors.

Three dedicated buttons for speed dialing are perhaps the Breeze's most distinctive reach for ease. Labeled with a 1-2-3, the buttons sit apart from the keypad on the phone's upper half. They're also easy to program. But they're recessed, unlike the other keys, and I had to shift the phone in my hand to apply enough pressure. And I'm not sure they're that much better than setting up speed dials on the keypad itself.

To reach other features, the phone displays a simple text menu. Or you can shift to a menu of icons. The latter is clearly more confusing, which is ironic. Weren't graphics supposed to make technology easier?

Phone numbers also appear in giant type when punching them into the keypad.

Otherwise, this feels like most any low-end feature phone, with a multitude of choices buried in sometimes confusing menus. Maneuvering, for example, often calls for hitting the "OK" button. But that doesn't exist because AT&T apparently replaced the "OK" label with its logo.

Features include E-mail, instant messaging, and a camera that also takes video. The phone can access a Web store for ring tones and other applications, such as mobile banking at a few institutions. And it can browse the Web itself.

In short, the phone is an option for someone who might want a touch of simplicity, but no more. AT&T sells it for $50 after rebate with a two-year contract, or $200 without.

senior citizens

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