The snap-out menu is designed to give you quick access to frequently used apps at the flick of a finger, but in actuality, we found it a little annoying. Flicking the menu out wasn't as smooth and precise as we would like. Instead of sweeping out in one fluid motion, the menu would sometimes jerk a little bit as we dragged our thumb back to select a function. In the end, we ended up just accessing apps the usual way by adding shortcuts to the home screen.
Along with the snap-out menu, the Casio G'zOne Commando has active wallpaper that leaves a glowing streak seconds after you swipe across the home screen.
Like many Verizon phones, the Commando is unfortunately stuck with Bing as the default search engine. Verizon has also preloaded a whole suite of applications on the Commando, like Verizon's V Cast suite of apps, Mobile IM, City ID, VZ Navigator, Skype Mobile, NFL Mobile, Slacker Radio, Social Beat, InnoPath ActiveCare, and Casio's G'zGear. Social Beat is essentially a hub that houses all your various social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace plus RSS feeds in a single app, while InnoPath ActiveCare lets you check for software updates. Unfortunately, these apps can't be uninstalled.
But the primary piece of software of interest to Casio fans is the G'zGear suite of apps. This suite is aimed squarely at the outdoors enthusiast with such apps as Earth Compass, Walking Counter, Adventure Training, Trip Memory, Thermometer, Tides, Sun/Moon, and Star Gazer. The apps are fairly self-explanatory--the thermometer app uses the built-in temperature sensor, and the compass app uses the compass, for example. Trip Memory lets you create a travel journal of sorts, complete with geolocated photos. Adventure Training might be of special interest to runners, as it is designed to analyze your runs and compare them to Olympic athletes' to motivate you. Star Gazer utilizes GPS to display the constellations and stars.
Aside from helping you navigate the great outdoors, the Commando still functions as a regular Android smartphone. You'll get all the usual Android 2.2 features on here, like contact and calendar management, social network integration, a full Web browser, and of course Google apps and services like Gmail, Google Talk, and YouTube. However, because of the Bing association, Google Maps isn't preinstalled--you'll have to download that yourself from the Android Market. In case you want to access work e-mail on the Commando, you'll be glad to know that Casio promises high-security encryption on all Microsoft Exchange corporate e-mail. Other apps include a document viewer for Office documents, an alarm clock, and a calculator.
A smartphone wouldn't be a smartphone if it didn't have other connectivity options, too. The Commando has it all; Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and GPS. Since the Commando has EV-DO Rev. A, we were glad that we could also use the Commando as a mobile hot spot for up to five Wi-Fi-enabled devices. Just know that this requires a Mobile Broadband plan, which costs $20 per month and has a 2GB data cap.
The 5-megapixel camera takes average photos. Most images have an orange tinge to them, and they are not at all as sharp as we would like. The LED light did help somewhat in dark environments, but that often resulted in washed-out photos. The camera records video as well.
We tested the Casio G'zOne Commando in San Francisco using Verizon Wireless service. Call quality was okay, but nothing spectacular. On our end, we heard callers clearly for the most part, but we did hear the occasional static interrupt the call.
On their end, however, callers could definitely tell we were on a cell phone. The voice quality was very fuzzy and hollow, as if we were calling from a tunnel. The call came through fine--they had no problems making out what we were saying--but the overall quality was just muddy. Speakerphone calls sounded the same.
On Verizon's 3G network, CNET's full site loaded in 20 seconds. The mobile versions of CNN and ESPN both loaded in around 5 to 7 seconds. YouTube clips loaded quickly, too, without much buffering. We did encounter the occasional jerky video, but it didn't happen very often. V Cast videos played fine as well, but the quality was quite poor.
The Casio G'zOne Commando has an 800MHz processor. Overall navigation felt smooth, but as we said earlier, we did encounter the occasional sluggishness. We suspect this might have more to do with the touch screen than the processor, however, as other phones with similar processors don't have the same problems.
The Casio G'zOne Commando has a rated battery life of 7.5 hours of talk time and 11.25 days of standby time. We're happy to say that our tests showed a talk time of 7 hours and 43 minutes.
The Casio G'zOne Commando is absolutely the choice if you want a rugged and durable Android smartphone. Its tough construction is built to withstand everyday drops and spills, so it's well suited for industrial workers or simply those who love the great outdoors. While we're not entirely pleased with Verizon's preloaded apps, we did enjoy Casio's G'zGear suite of apps designed for those who love the active outdoor lifestyle. All of that, and it's also a pretty decent Android smartphone with corporate e-mail security and most of the usual Google apps at your disposal. The Casio G'zOne Commando is $199.99 with a new two-year service agreement.