This morning, AT&T announced a new entry-level addition to its smartphone lineup, the Pantech Flex 4G LTE. Extraneous network tech acronyms aside, this phone actually seems to be a fairly serious offering on the budget end of the spectrum.

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At just $49.99 on contract, even as someone who dislikes to notion of budget phones in general, the Flex really does look impressive on paper. A large-for-a-cheap-phone 4.3" qHD SAMOLED display accompanies the now near-ubiquitous MSM8960 dual-core processor, which should make for a legitimately speedy experience. The Flex is running Android 4.0, as well, but we wouldn't get our hopes up on a 4.1 upgrade particularly soon. Oh, and it has on-screen buttons. Hooray!

It is a little difficult to take the whole "saving money" aspect seriously, though. For just $50 more, you can get a One X, or an ATRIX HD (even less at Amazon). Both of which will be better phones, frankly. Still, the Flex will probably sell like hotcakes compared to its slightly pricier rivals, if only because most people will walk out of an AT&T store with a smaller charge on their credit card.


Supposed P9090 image. Sure looks exactly the same to me.

Interestingly, the images of the Flex look exactly like the leaked images of the P9090 Magnus we saw just last week - so perhaps we've yet to actually see the P9090. This device more accurately reflects an earlier FCC filing for the P8010, and today's announcement seems to confirm what we already knew.

  • Pantech Flex 4G Specs
    • 1.5GHz dual-core MSM8960 processor
    • Adreno 225 GPU
    • 4.3" qHD SAMOLED display
    • 4G LTE / HSPA+ connectivity
    • 8GB internal storage
    • 1830mAh battery
    • 8MP rear, 2MP front cameras
    • $49.99 with 2-year agreement

The Flex also comes with a "Easy Experience" mode for first-time smartphone users, similar to a feature we saw on Verizon's Pantech Marauder. SwiftKey comes installed as standard, too. The Flex will be available starting September 16th for the aforementioned fifty bucks.

AT&T, Pantech

David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • ElfirBFG

    On-contract budget phones always baffle me, but at least they're stepping up the game in terms of internals. No more low-res single core entries is a definite step in the right direction. I'd also bet that it will receive a very affordable off-contract(prepaid) price fairly soon after release. I'd rather a less-than-savvy person like my mom being 'tricked' into buying this phone than into getting a Curve or single-core.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      I agree. At least it's putting something that should, in theory, run Android halfway decently in people's hands.

      • Dan

        "run Android halfway decently" WTF? Are you smoking crack? It's a 1.5Ghz dual-core running ICS with a super amoled screen. What's going to be only halfway decent about that? It may not be the fastest phone in the room... actually, I take that back. In most rooms in the real world, it probably will be the fastest phone in the room. Most people are using phones that are 1 year old and the overwhelming majority of people are running phones that don't have ICS.

        Putting the subjective aside, you didn't even get the facts right. The Flex and the Magnus are two completely different phones. The Magnus is the P9090 with a 720x1280 screen. The Flex is a P8010 with a 540x960 screen.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

          The images look literally, exactly the same when you compare the Flex to the P9090 Magnus leak. Maybe Engadget got the wrong picture.

          It was an easy mistake, chill out.

          • Dan

            It's cool that you updated the story to clear up the P9090 vs P8010 confusion. I suspect that the two pics are identical, but the specs are on phonearena.com.

            Scrolling back, I don't see where I vouched for anything. On the other hand, your comment gave a backhanded compliment to a phone you've never used and implied that it's mediocre at best. Compare the specs of the Flex with the specs of the Galaxy SII.

            The Flex is a hair smaller and lighter with 0.2" smaller screen, but the screen is higher resolution. The Flex only gets a SuperAMOLED screen rather than the SAMOLED Plus on the SII. The Flex is running a Snapdragon S4 processor vs the Snapdragon S3 in the Galaxy SII which should mean faster graphics processing for the Flex and at least a 20% bump in battery life, possibly over 40% more. The Flex only has 8gig of memory rather than the 16gig in the Galaxy SII, but they both have a microSD slot that will take up to a 32gig card. Camera specs don't mean much, but they're identical on paper. The Flex has Bluetooth 4.0 and oh yeah, that other silly thing nobody cares about... LTE.

            The Flex is $50 on contract.
            The T-Mobile Galaxy SII is still $149 on contract AFTER the $50 mail-in rebate.

            As for the UI customization, Aaron says it's pretty good. The Flex is very close to the Pantech Marauder on Verizon that Cameron nearly gushed over a few weeks ago and Aaron reviewed the Marauder hands-on. Regarding performance, Aaron said, "In a word, performance is great. In terms of smoothness, this
            is by far the best budget device I've ever used. I'd rate the sheer feel
            of the performance on par with the Galaxy S II" The Flex has the same SoC as the Marauder, but it's clocked 25% faster, and let's not forget that some benchmarks, for whatever they're worth, show the S4 as being faster than the Tegra3 at the same clock rates.

            These inexpensive phones service a really important segment of the market, so why imply that they're a meh piece of junk when they really aren't? It's a screaming phone made possible by the cost savings of the SoC, less expensive glass (no Gorilla), and a shell that isn't titanium or carbon fiber or molybonded unobtainium.

            It's $50 and smokes most phones that people are using today.

          • Romans724

            Very informative post Dan. It really makes me laugh when people equate budget and mediocre performance when considering this phone. In fact, it is so good and so affordable off contract, that I just bought one for myself. For a mere $225, i got a heck of a phone and I can now say bye-bye to AT&T and their contract... it's Straight Talk and unlimited everything for $45/mos for me!

          • Brandt

            What APN settings did you use on your Flex to get MMS & Data to work?

        • GraveUypo

          yep. people here are so obsessed with the lastest highest end stuff they become stupid.

  • CeluGeek

    I got a kick out of the light switch unlock. At least it's original, although since you are technically sliding up on the screen, Apple will find a way to complain.

    • JG

      Yeah, I like it to... Might have to try to find a lock screen mod for it...

      Apple's patent is specifically left to right sliding (IIRC from previous discussions re: their slide to unlock patent)... So it should be ok.... Though, I suppose, if you hold it in landscape with the AT&T brand is on the right side while in landscape mode, it would be left-to-right sliding... So maybe....

  • http://www.facebook.com/geoff.baysinger Geoff Baysinger

    This is more interesting to me as a phone I can probably buy outright (no added contract terms) for about what it would cost me to buy a flagship phone on contract. I'm finding the pay as you go experience terms to be amazingly competitive these days, especially given how much I use WiFi instead of mobile data. I'm torn ... I still want a flagship phone ... but I don't want to be tied to AT&T for another 2 years given I'm almost out of my current contract.

    I don't know the off-contract price for the Flex yet, but if it is in line with the other Pantech phones AT&T sells in this class, it should be between $199.99 and $299.99. And for the specs, that's not bad at all.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dominick-White/642535026 Dominick White

    Have to say, that unlock screen seem cool

  • fixxmyhead

    4.3'' is NOT big

    • http://richworks.in Richie

      4.3" is indeed big. Anything bigger than that is huge :)

      • fixxmyhead

        if u think that then u must think ur weiner is huge lol

  • http://twitter.com/snalty sam nalty

    daaamn thats one ugly ass skin

  • Freak4Dell

    I like how they put a fairly recent version of Android on there, but then skinned it to look like it came from the Eclair days. Were they afraid people would accidentally think it was a high-end device or something?

  • rulost

    I want to sell mine in mint condition just don't want it anymore