Thick, durable, and up to speed on military specification for dust, humidity, temperature, altitude, and a host of other elements, the Samsung Convoy 2 flip phone for Verizon updates the design of its predecessor, the original. While it's a more attractive flip phone to our eyes, the latest model of the durable, push-to-talk handset seems less rugged now that it's lost its rubberized sidings.
Although we have misgivings about dropping the thing from great heights, the Convoy 2 does have some nice features that make it more than just a sturdy handset. The Convoy 2 costs $79.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate and with a new two-year contract.
Thick and substantial in the hand, the Samsung Convoy 2 advertizes its durability in its design: large, square buttons; dark, hard plastic; sturdy hinge; dimpled finish. The Convoy 2 stands 3.9 inches tall, measures 2 inches wide, and is a brawny 0.9-inch thick. It weighs a solid 3.9 ounces for its size, but feels comfortable on the ear. It might be a tad thick for more tailored pockets.
This Convoy sequel loses the rubberized sidings from the previous model, which aided in grip and insulating the phone from bang-ups and falls. It seems tough enough when we knock it against a table, but we're not convinced that the new, all-plastic design will stand up to serious impact.
As did the original Convoy before it, the Convoy 2 has a 1.3-inch external CSTN display (128x128-pixel resolution), with support for 65,000 colors. While you won't be able to customize much, you will be able to use the controls just below the screen, along with the volume rocker, to access an abridged menu that pulls up messages, voice commands, and a long list of other shortcuts. Other times, the three hardware buttons act as music controls to go forward, back, play, and pause a track.
Above the small screen on the Convoy's closed face is a 3.2-megapixel camera/camcorder with flash. On the right spine, plastic covers conceal a Micro-USB charging port. Unfortunately, Samsung has stubbornly stuck to the outdated 2.5-millimeter headset jack instead of the standard 3.5-millimeter jack. There's also a speakerphone button on the side.
On the left, you'll see a red button that serves as a programmable convenience key in regular cellular mode, and as the push-to-talk key when you're in that mode (turn on PTT through the Settings.) Below that is a wide enough, but rather shallow volume rocker that's a little tough to locate by feel (especially with gloved hands.) You'll also find the covered Micro-USB card slot that takes up to 32GB.
Flipped open, you'll see the Convoy's 2.2-inch internal QVGA display (320x240 pixels) with support for 262,000 colors. It's a pretty standard resolution for the screen size, and one that delivers predictable levels of sharpness and vibrancy. Familiarity is no crime; the same Verizon menu we've seen for years makes navigation a snap.
Below the screen, the roomy navigation area and dial pad are even better, with large, ridged keys that rise above the surface. Fully separated keys would be easier for dialing by feel, but feeling where the raised edges stop and start works, too. The Convoy 2 has a shortcut button dedicated to launching the camera and camcorder, and another one that turns on voice commands, and also turns the camera flash into a bright flashlight (just press and hold.)
The back cover is pretty plain, save the metal "screw-top" panel that protects the battery from Mother Nature's more tricky conditions. It's easy enough to screw off with a fingernail or a coin, no special equipment necessary.
The Convoy 2's phone book is 1,000 contacts deep, with room enough for multiple phone numbers and e-mail addresses, an IM name, a photo ID, a calling group, and one of 21 ringtones, plus silent mode. You can customize the message tone as well.