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Pantech is back from the brink with the quirky IM-100 smartphone

For over a year, Korean phone manufacturer Pantech did not know whether it would sink or swim. After finding out its survival was ensured in October, however, the company officially announced its comeback in the Android game with the IM-100, ETNews reports.

The front of the phone packs a 5.15-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 resolution display, while a Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 processor and 2GB RAM sit as the beating heart. What is interesting about the Snapdragon 430 chipset is its inclusion of Qualcomm’s latest WCD9326 audio codec chip, which itself supports the APT-X codec. In short, the codec should allow for playback of high-quality music over Bluetooth.

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Elsewhere, the IM-100’s exterior design eschews the plastic of older Pantech phones for an all-metal enclosure that comes in either black or white. Finally, the nonremovable 3,000mAh battery should be sufficient to take the phone from the crack of dawn to nightfall, with 32GB of native storage as the baseline and only line.

Looking purely at the spec sheet, the IM-100 is a solid midrange offering from Pantech. However, two aspects of the phone separate it from the rest of the pack: the dial and its name.

Similar to the Marshall London, the IM-100 features a scroll wheel instead of your typical volume buttons, with Pantech saying the wheel has 100 volume precision levels. Interestingly enough, the wheel can also be used as a way to move through photos and videos when using the phone. To double down on this feature, Pantech also unveiled the Stone Bluetooth speaker, which doubles as a wireless charger and also features a scroll wheel for precise control.

As for its name, the number 100 reads as “back” in Korean, so the phone’s name can be meant to say “I am back,” a fitting message from a company that has been out of the Android phone game for 20 months. After all, not only was Pantech bought by two companies acting in unison, but the Korean outfit also laid off more than a handful of workers during a company restructuring in April.

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Finally, Pantech does not plan to sell many IM-100 units, as the company set 300,000 units as its sales target. A modest number, relatively speaking, but keep in mind that Pantech is still trying to get its bearings, so modest might be a good thing right now.

Unfortunately, it seems as if Pantech has no plans to sell the IM-100 outside of the company’s native South Korea. Even so, interested importers can pick up the phone for 440,000 won ($380). For that price, however, there might be better options, such as the Nexus 5X and the OnePlus 3, which would give you better network band support and more bang for your buck. The IM-100 is a strange and niche beast, though, so have at it if that is what you prefer.