We expected an average showing from the camera, and that's precisely what we got. As anticipated, images ended up reasonably crisp and bright, though colors had a knack for getting washed out in direct sunlight. We gave up on taking close-up shots, as our subject would turn out fuzzy more often than not. Macro focus is not available on the Breakout, so we just had to give objects more distance before photographing them -- albeit, without as much detail as we'd prefer.
The user interface was surprisingly minimalistic in comparison to most Android cameras. When you first enter the app, the only visible icons are the touchscreen shutter button, camcorder and front-facing toggle switches and a GPS indicator on the right side. Upon pressing the menu key, however, a sidebar appears on the left and the right sidebar's icons change into options for gallery and random settings. On the left, we find four icons: zoom, exposure, shot mode and a miscellaneous icon that opens up to lighting, white balance, timer and focus (auto, manual and spot) settings. In additional settings, we can change resolution, scene mode and anti-shake, as well as a couple other random choices.
The video capture resolution on most standard smartphones is now drifting into high-def territory, which means the Breakout's 720p HD camcorder is par for the course. We found the performance to be average, with only minor amounts of lag scattered about. The videos were slightly choppy when capturing sudden motion, but was smooth otherwise. Audio quality turned out great, as our voice could be clearly heard above the noise of a busy street.
Performance and battery life
Much like Verizon's first three LTE phones, the Breakout sports a predictable 1GHz single-core CPU. It doesn't feel long ago that such a processor speed was considered top of the line, and now it's bordering on low-end. However, that's not a reason to discount the phone's real-world performance. Provided you're not looking to overload your device with graphics-intensive games or try to do 50 things at once, you can expect to find buttery-smooth performance. We experienced a slight amount of lag when bogging down the CPU with a laundry list of tasks, but otherwise it ran just fine. Hard as we tried, the phone didn't crash or shut down on us. In case you're a numbers fan, however, we ran our standard benchmarks and compared the results with comparable LTE phones below.
The above benchmarks show a device that can certainly keep up with its LTE compadres, and its Sunspider score only puts it 100ms shy of the Motorola Droid Bionic. In our own testing, we couldn't see any noticeable difference in the phone's performance when compared to the other single-core darlings.
We also came away with admiration for the Breakout's little speakers that could. While media playback through our headphones wasn't anything to write home (or a review) about, the speaker grill on the back of the phone held up very well when watching movies or listening to music. Likewise, we had an enjoyable time using the speakerphone -- the other line came through loud and clear, and it's great to use a phone that we have to turn the volume down
in order to hear comfortably instead of vice versa.
When it comes to LTE handsets, we've already come to expect less-than-stellar battery life. The Breakout's 1,500mAh juicepack doesn't depart from those expectations, though it's at least bearable for anyone who doesn't plan to use their phone for constant video / music streaming or gaming. In our standard video rundown test, the battery lasted for four hours and 50 minutes before taking its final electronic gasp and shutting off. We were able to get through the full workday with moderate usage, but it may not be a bad idea to have a charger with you if you find yourself getting into some heavy emailing, internet browsing or media playback.
All said, Pantech's done a commendable job of cutting corners in all the right places. It still features a CPU with the same clockspeed as the Thunderbolt and Revolution, carries a competitive amount of RAM to accompany it, has an above-average display and exudes a design more elegant than its price tag would normally suggest. Don't get us wrong: it's no Droid Bionic, but it doesn't try to be. Even then, however, we were expecting much worse from a handset that undercuts its 4G counterparts by at least $150. Instead, we found a device that does well at keeping up with its older brothers (with the glaring exception of the Droid Bionic, of course). It's unfortunate news for the members of that exclusive club, because we have a feeling the pool's going to get a lot more crowded very soon.