AT&T Looks to Pantech for $69 Android Smartphone

After designing and building Android smartphones for Asia, Pantech is ready to tackle the U.S. market with the help of AT&T (s t). The Pantech Crossover arrives on June 5 for a low, up-front cost of $69 with a two-year contract; the commitment is met through AT&T’s $15 monthly smartphone plan, which offers 200 MB of data. Unique to the Pantech Crossover is a slide-out QWERTY hardware keyboard, as most Android handsets rely on software keyboards through the touchscreen.
For $69, Pantech’s Crossover may be suited to current feature phone owners who don’t want to spend $199 or more for the latest handset technology. The specifications illustrate the target audience:

  • 600 MHz processor
  • Google (s goog) Android 2.2
  • 3.1-inch touchscreen, no resolution specified
  • Four row QWERTY keyboard
  • HSPA Tri-Band 850/1900/2100 MHz; Quad-Band GSM850/900/1800/1900 MHz
  • 3-megapixel fixed focus camera with video capture
  • 2 GB microSD card pre-installed, support for 32 GB
  • 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • Mobile hotspot support for up to five devices

Specification-wise, the Pantech Crossover appears similar to the then $30 LG Optimus line of handsets I reviewed in November of last year, but with the addition of the QWERTY keyboard. Here’s a look at the Optimus showing the performance for a device in this class:
Surprisingly, such a configuration worked reasonably well then and should appeal to first time smartphone buyers on AT&T’s network now. The low, upfront cost combined with a $15 data plan — AT&T will charge another $15 and provide 200 MB of additional data if a user eats through the first 200 MB — offers a solid starter handset with 3G capabilities, access to the Android Market and even mobile hotspot support.
But the price doesn’t undercut AT&T’s $49 iPhone 3GS (s aapl), so the Crossover isn’t a guaranteed sales success just yet: It may come down to the user experience of Android 2.2 and the desire for a hardware keyboard.