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​Pantech launches first smartphone in 20 months

After wobbling through debt and overcoming bankruptcy, South Korean smartphone maker Pantech has launched its first smartphone model in 20 months, the IM-100.

Pantech, South Korea's third largest smartphone maker, has launched the mid-tier Sky IM-100 smartphone, its first model in 20 months.

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(Pantech)

The company has suffered through debts since 2014, and filed for court receivership, South Korea's equivalent of the US's Chapter 11, in August that year. Since early 2015, it couldn't launch new models. It was bought by compatriots Optis and Solid late last year and was dramatically saved from bankruptcy.

After the purchase, it went through a tough restructuring that saw many workers laid off, the last being in April this year.

The IM-100 weighs 130g, is 7mm thick, and is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 430. It comes with Qualcomm's latest audio codec chip, the WCD9326, which supports Qualcomm's APT-X codec and allows for quality sound on Bluetooth earphones and speakers. It packs 2GB RAM and a 3000mAh battery.

The IM-100 is also the first in years for which Pantech has used the "Sky" brand, which it used for its feature phones before the appearance of smartphones. Previously, for smartphones, it used the "Vega" brand.

The number 100 reads as "back" in Korean, so IM-100 can be construed to mean "I am back," a confident message from Pantech.

The company said it wanted a refined but simple design. The full-metal phone comes in either white or black, and the gold-coloured whirlkey was accentuated to give a touch of "analogue" to the phone, the company said. The whirlkey can used to control volume and sort though pictures and videos on the phone. Logos of mobile carriers were also removed to stress simplicity.

The phone has an accompanying cube-shaped accessory called Stone, a hybrid of a speaker and wireless charger. A phone placed atop Stone will automatically begin charging. It can be synced with the phone to play music as well.

The IM-100 is moderately priced at 440,000 won ($380).