If you're a big game hunter, dirt biker, B.A.S.E. jumper or other extreme hobbyist, you want a phone that handles serious knocks. Enter the G'zOne Commando: Verizon's only truly durable Android smartphone that can withstand a lot of abuse.
Unlike rugged rivals like the Motorola Defy, you won't mistake it for a run-of-the-mill Android smartphone. No, from the industrial-looking rubber and exposed screws to the red and gray accents, one look at the rough-and-tumble body and you know it means business. The shell can take a serious pounding -- it meets to military standards for water, dust and shock resistance. You'd think a phone with so much protection would be heavy, but it's surprisingly light -- or rather, lighter than you'd expect -- at five and a half ounces.
The plastic-lining along the sides, likely decreased the weight, but it also makes me wonder if it's more destructible than it seems -- the port covers and buttons are plastic too, and I can't help but worry that they might break off after enough wear and tear. I didn't have it long to put it through the full litany of tests, but I did toss and drop it a few times, and it survived every bit ding and dent the military-grade tests claim test.
As long as those port covers stay put, you can rest assured that it'll survive what you throw at it. You can even leave it in sitting water for half hour.
The size is average, but the 3.6-inch screen is rather small due to the protective frame that surrounds the display. The 800-by-480 resolution, meanwhile, provides crisp definition, and a 256-ppi pixel density means you get sharply rendered images. Moreover, the colors are very bright and vibrant, even in direct sunlight, so it's readable in all kinds of weather. You'd think a rugged phone would have an awful display, but even though it's small, you can enjoy watching movies on it.
The display quality isn't an issue. No, the problem is the "touch" part of the screen. Often times, it just wouldn't respond to my taps. So in extreme conditions, like in the winter, or with work gloves on, and you'll have to tap inaccurately and repeatedly. Without enough pressure, nothing happens. Casio markets the Commando to burly outdoorsmen, but you'll need to flex some muscles to get it to register an input-- and that's a problem.
The 5-megapixel camera takes often blurry photos. If you don't stand perfectly still, shots come out looking like garbage. Want to take an amazing picture of that wheelie on your mountain bike? It's not happening. Anything that's moving will look like a mix between a bad Sasquatch photo and a Jackson Pollack. Of course, if you use it to take photos of plants and other stationary objects, it's better -- color representation is accurate, but it's nothing special. Video quality, meanwhile, is similar, but playback is riddled with lag.
The Commando runs on Froyo, but Casio made several changes, which will make you long for vanilla Android. Google is switched out for Bing; Casio swapped out the stock Android keypad with an inferior XT9 QWERTY, and Verizon loaded VCast bloatware, including useless apps like City ID. Moreover, the traditional Gmail app that comes with Android is gone, replaced by a proprietary e-mail app that syncs Gmail with Yahoo Mail, Hotmail, AOL, Exchange and Verizon.net. If you have e-mails at various places, it's useful, but I prefer stock Gmail any day, especially since it doesn't thread group messages as conversations.
One useful element: Casio included apps for an earth compass, star gazer, pedometer and thermometer, and they're all easy-to-use and practical. The tide heights app isn't really useful, unless you're a surfer, and there are only 100 or so coastal areas available -- so if you live in New York, for example, the closest measured tide is in New Jersey -- not particularly helpful. If you don't like them, you can delete shortcuts by dragging them to the trash.
The 800-megahertz processor isn't quite fast enough, and the touch screen lag increases during intensive use. Call quality, though, is strong, and Verizon's 3G network is extensive, so if you venture off the beaten track, you still have a connection to the world. That's helpful if you hike in remote areas. It comes with a paltry 8-gigabytes of storage, but you can buy a microSD card to boost it up to 32-gigabytes.
If you don't plan to listen to music or watch movies, there should be more than enough memory. The 1,460 mAh battery, meanwhile, is as robust as the body, so you'll get through at least seven hours with heavy use or a few days of standby.
Overall, I'd only recommend the Commando if you really need a tough phone -- if you work on a construction site or you do extreme sports. The touch and camera are bad, but it's Verizon's first rugged Android device, designed for a very specific niche. Unless you're that group, buy a phone you like, and pick up a cushy case. ♦
I picked up a used Commando off Ebay to test. I was so impressed that it's now my primary phone.
Great audio call quality. Voices sound more natural on both ends of the call. My wife, who has tinnitus, said that for the first time in some time she can hear me with no trouble.
I get 2 to 5 bars at work (metal roof) and can place and receive calls with no trouble. Can't make calls from there with my Sprint phone. GPS accuracy is much better than with any other smart phone I've tested -- LG Ally, HTC Evo, Motorola Photon... I spent 30 minutes on the Phone with my wife, and on hanging up the Commando uploaded the previous 30 minutes of GPS coordinates to the server as I've programmed it to do. First phone I've found that could do that.
Apps download and install with no problem. Audio quality for music and Internet radio is excellent and has a much higher maximum volume that the previously mentioned smart phones.
Screen sample rate is slow, so at times you have to hold your finger there momentarily before it responds.Was this review helpful to you?
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