DNP Pantech Discover handson

Talk about a stark contrast to last year's AT&T Developer Summit: instead of blasting out a large number of devices, the Pantech Discover was the carrier's sole handset announcement today. It's certainly a spotlight hog, though -- the budget-friendly smartphone is making its way to store shelves on January 11th for $50, and it's bringing an entourage of premium features. Boasting a 4.8-inch 720p TFT display, 12.6MP camera, 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 Plus, 2,100mAh battery and 16GB internal storage with microSD capacity, it's one of the most tempting phones we've ever seen in this price tier (on paper, at least). We've been able to spend some quality time with the Discover. We have some photos after the break, and keep on reading below as we collect our thoughts and first impressions of the surprisingly solid device.

Gallery | 14 Photos

Pantech Discover hands-on

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Our biggest concern going into our hands-on with the Discover was the fact that it offers an abnormally large number of higher-end features for $50 -- for instance, does the camera actually offer decent quality, or is it just a victim of the megapixel war? Many of those particular questions will need to wait to be answered in our full review, but overall we didn't feel as though the Discover was short-changed on quality. Nothing on the phone exuded cheapness, and we couldn't find any visible flaws in the hardware or software performance. The removable back cover is textured plastic, which helps deliver a better grip without us having to worry about fingerprints, and has a curvacious design that we've never seen on any smartphone; all told, we're pleasantly surprised with how it looks, and more so how the 4.8-inch frame and 9.1mm thickness feels in our hands.

The 720p TFT display is crisp and offers above-average viewing angles, and it does so without using a PenTile matrix. Up above the screen is a 2MP front-facing camera -- again, a nice touch for a lower-end handset -- and below you'll find virtual navigation buttons.

Flanking the phone on the left and right sides are a pair of 3D surround sound speakers. We watched a quick movie and didn't feel particularly impressed by the volume, but they're slightly above average when compared to the majority of speakerphones on the market -- especially around its pricing tier. Also, we noticed that the speakers didn't produce as much of a stereo effect as we would've preferred whilst watching a movie, since both speakers are located on the same side of the phone in landscape mode. That slight frustration aside, the Discover is otherwise a solid handset that appears to perform quite well, and Pantech's recent history has shown us that this likely isn't just a small hiccup. We'll get our hands on a review unit soon enough to put it through its paces, but in the meantime, check out our photos (and video) to get a closer look at the splendidly-specced midrange phone.

Jon Fingas contributed to this hands-on.