What you see above is the Casio G'zOne Commando, a rugged Android device available from Verizon right now, only without the ice. But you can definitely ice it if you'd like because the Commando is certified for the military's MIL–STD–810G standards for shock, extreme temperatures, dust-, salt-, and water-proofing.
This is definitely not your typical Pocketables review, folks. Oh no, this review literally put the device through hell and back. It was even slightly singed through that journey. Are you ready to witness the torturing of Casio's latest tough guy through a plethora of words and pictures? If so, then join me below to watch (and read) as I perform science.
Before we begin, I need you all to know something: This phone is not meant to actually be thrown around and dunked in water for long periods of time. You shouldn't throw it in your freezer, either. While the box may say it can handle all of this, accidents do happen. And not every phone is alike. Your buddy's Commando might be waterproof, but that doesn't necessarily mean that yours is as waterproof. Manufacturing processes aren't perfect, and eventually somewhere down that assembly line, some devices just won't be as well-built as others. Take this all into consideration before you torture your own phone.
We can begin now.
The Commando's main feature is ruggedness, and you can definitely tell that Casio spent more time and money on the outside than in. It's got a measly 800MHz processor, coupled with 512MB of RAM. You also get a pre-installed 8GB microSD card. The camera is of the ubiquitous 5MP variety, and of course, it has an LED flash. It packs a moderately skinned version of Android 2.2, as well.
It runs on Verizon's CDMA network; call quality was pretty good, if a little muffled due to some of the waterproofing materials. I always had a consistent three out of four bars of 3G, as well.
The Casio G'zOne Commando is designed to even look tough. Durable plastic lines the outside, held on not by glue, but visible screws. This is obviously to add to the whole toughness image that the Commando has, but I think they're really ugly. They're functional, sure, but they are ugly. On the front, up top is your earpiece and below are two speakers.
On the back is that 5MP camera, and also the flash that goes along with it. You can also see the waterproof back cover. It locks into place and has a rubber ring that slips into the crevices between the battery and the sides of the battery compartment to keep liquids out of that area.
On the left, you've got your ports and a dedicated camera button. Again, just like the battery cover, these covers are waterproof, with rings that cover up the ports so liquids cannot get in. We'll get to how well they do their job a little later.
Turning over to the right, you'll find a volume rocker, a programmable button (which is preset to open a Casio G'zOne app), and the power button.
Now all of these pictures were from before my fun. Later in this review, I will show you everything that has happened in an "After" sort of gallery.
Remember when I disappointed you with the specs of this device?
I left one out on purpose so I could make up for it here. The Commando has a very nice display. It's a 3.6" screen with a resolution of 480×800. It's certainly not as high as the Retina Display, but it's also not as low as some other phones that I've been reviewing lately. Text is sharp and colors pop. It's also this way underwater, which I'll show you when we take a look at its swimming abilities.
However, one of the bad things about this display is how unresponsive it is. I'm blaming it on the extra effort Casio put into making it durable, but it's really, really bad. And the more and more I used the Commando, the less and less responsive the screen became. I don't really understand how screen responsiveness can be overlooked, especially when the company took such an overwhelmingly large amount of time to make the device durable. They could've (and should've) taken more time on the quality of actually using the device. It doesn't matter how durable your device is if you can't even use it effectively.
Anyway, the Commando is running a lightly skinned version of Android 2.2. Really, the only "enhancements" Casio made to the operating system are a few navigation widgets, a different dock, and a fast way to launch your most used apps. Other than that, it's your basic stock Froyo build.
Oh yeah. And the horrid keyboard. If you do any typing at all on your smartphone, stay away. The theory is similar to Swype, but the execution is the farthest thing from it. Swiping in "Monday," for example, will usually give you "nobody." It's not predictive text; it's more like, "you swipe some letters in and I will find the most random word that doesn't resemble the swipe you just put in."
And remember how unresponsive the screen is? Sometimes, your swipes won't register all the way through, and you'll get an assortment of abbreviations instead of what you actually swiped. And not swiping is even worse due to that unresponsiveness. Depending on how quickly you're typing, sometimes keys won't register or that abbreviation effect will haunt you yet again. It's absolutely terrible, and it makes no sense to put such a bad keyboard in what is supposed to be a business-oriented phone. If you were out in the field, would you really want to have to take 2 minutes out of your working time to say yes to a co-worker? I don't, and I'm almost certain nobody else does, either.
Another unfortunate thing about the Commando is the battery life.
Not only does it take forever to charge, but it also takes very little effort to drain. In fact, I didn't make it through half a day during the whole trial period. I don't understand why either. The specs definitely don't make it seem like the device would get such bad battery life. And I didn't even use it all the time. If I had to take a guess as to why, I'd say that the skin is simply too unoptimized, which would make sense for its little big of lag, as well.
Torture and False Advertising?
As I previously mentioned, the Casio Commando is set to withstand the specifications of the military's MIL–STD–810G standards. Part of that set of standards is the ability of the device to be submerged under water that's up to three inches deep for a duration of up to thirty minutes. I kid you not, the deepest of water the device was in was one inch, and it was only in there for 15 minutes. At first it was fine, but then I watched as the water started seeping into the space between the glass and the screen. Eventually, the water condensed and the screen ceased to work.
I can't tell you how demeaning it is to consumers for a company to say one thing, only for the device to do something completely different. Especially with something this serious. You might not think that it's that big of a deal; who drops their $200 smartphone in water?
But let me tell you something: companies with employees that work out in the field always buy tough phones to last them through whatever tough things they have to do. If a company bought these for their field workers and they simply cannot take anything, what point is there to buy this device? Well, I'll tell you: there isn't one.
I'm not going to hold a grudge against Casio for this. I simply could've received a defective unit. It happens to the best of companies. But if I hear of one more incident that happens like this, then I will update this review and let you all know. You deserve to know. Why waste money on something that isn't going to work?
Up until the point that it died, the Commando was a typical Android device, with the addition of rubber and screws around the perimeter. But when it died, I realized that the quality of the device was lacking. And remember, this might be just my device. I will have to assume that's what it is until I read another review in which the same thing happened. Until then, I will say just this: if you buy this device, be careful.