If you wanted to use a cell phone in the U.S. and abroad, we would usually recommend you get a quad-band GSM handset if you were an AT&T or a T-Mobile customer, or a dual-mode CDMA/GSM phone if you were a Verizon Wireless or a Sprint customer. So far, the only dual-mode CDMA/GSM phone available in the U.S. is the RIM BlackBerry Tour, a rather advanced smartphone with a lot of business-slanted applications, not to mention a hefty price. In an effort to diversify its world phone offerings, Verizon has come out with the fairly basic Verizon Wireless Escapade, manufactured by PCD. It is also a dual-mode CDMA/GSM phone, but it is not as complicated as the Tour and is only available for $29.99 with a two-year service agreement.
Measuring 3.9 inches long by 1.9 inches wide by 0.9 inch thick, the Verizon Wireless Escapade has the look of a normal clamshell phone except for its glossy red shell. It's slim and sleek, with silver and black trim. The Escapade is quite lightweight at 3.4 ounces and feels comfortable in the hand.
On the front is a simple 1.1-inch 65,000 color external display. It shows the date, time, battery life, signal strength, and caller ID. It also supports photo caller ID, and you can use it as a camera viewfinder. You can adjust the clock format and the wallpaper for the front display. On the left side of the phone are the volume rocker and the headset jack, and the charger jack, the voice command key, and the camera key are on the right. On the back of the phone is the camera lens.
Flip open the phone and you'll find a nice 2-inch display with 262,000-color support and 176x220-pixel resolutions. The display is good looking, with bright colors and sharp legible text. You can adjust the backlight time, the clock format on the standby screen, the menu layout, and the font sizes for dialed numbers and menu text.
Underneath the display is the navigation array, which consists of two soft keys, a four-way navigation toggle with a middle OK key, a speakerphone key, and a dedicated messaging key that opens up a new text message. The array is very flat to the surface of the phone, with almost no delineation between the keys except for the navigation toggle in the middle. The Send, Clear, and End/Power keys are part of the number keypad underneath, and that, too, is quite flat to the surface of the phone. However, the number keypad has raised lines in between each key, so there is some texture for dialing by feel.
The Verizon Wireless Escapade has a 500-entry phone book with room in each entry for five numbers, two e-mail addresses, an IM screen name, and a street address. You can organize your contacts into caller groups, pair a contact with a photo for caller ID, and with one of 30 polyphonic ringtones and alert tones. Other basic features include a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, text and multimedia messaging, a calculator, a tip calculator, a calendar, an alarm clock, a stopwatch, a world clock, a unit converter, and a notepad.
More-advanced users will appreciate the voice command feature, Bluetooth, mobile instant messenger (AIM, Windows Live Messenger, and Yahoo), a simple mobile Web browser, and GPS, which comes with location-based services like Verizon's VZ Navigator and Chaperone. You can also get e-mail either via Verizon's mobile e-mail service that delivers e-mail directly to your in-box from services like Yahoo, AOL, and Windows Live, or via mobile Web e-mail, which just opens up the Web browser. The mobile Web e-mail is free, while the mobile e-mail option requires an application download and a $5 monthly fee.