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Casio G'zOne Commando 4G LTE (Verizon) review:

Extra-tough build, weak camera chops

Casio G'zOne Commando 4G LTE (SSI)
In our standard studio shot, the flash casts a blue tint against the white backdrop, and objects are not in focus. Josh Miller/CNET

Images shot during video recording looked more in focus (both moving and still), with sharper edges, and their colors appeared more accurate. Audio also picked up well. However, I did notice a strange occurrence whenever I moved the camera. For some reason, perhaps because of a lack of image stabilization in auto mode, every time I shifted the camera, the perspective on objects in the background (like buildings) appeared distorted. These objects would looked stretched and pulled in the direction that I moved the smartphone, giving an unpleasant, 2D effect that resembled a fun-house mirror.

Casio G'zOne Commando 4G LTE (video)
Notice how the buildings look like they are leaning severely to the right, despite the even horizon. Lynn La/CNET

I tested the Commando 4G LTE in our San Francisco offices and call quality was great. Voices sounded clear and undistorted, and the volume range was excellent -- especially at maximum levels. (Even when the speaker wasn't turned on, I could place the device far from my ear and still hear my friend.) Audio didn't clip in and out, none of calls dropped, and I didn't hear any extraneous noises or buzzing. Likewise, I was told that I could be heard clearly as well. My friend did say I sounded a bit muffled at times, but from my end, I could hear her fine.

Phone calls on speaker also sounded loud and clear. Furthermore, perhaps because the human voice isn't as lush as a composed song, I noticed I didn't hear as much harsh tinniness on max volume with conversations like I heard when listening to music.

Casio G'zOne Commando 4G LTE (Verizon Wireless) call quality sample

Listen now:

Verizon has one of the fastest and most widespread 4G LTE networks around. As such, data speeds were fast and consistent. CNET's mobile site loaded in 6 seconds and our desktop site took 13 seconds. The New York Times' mobile and desktop sites took about 6 and 14 seconds, respectively. ESPN's mobile site took 5 seconds, and its full site loaded in a 9 seconds. Ookla's Speedtest app showed me an average of 5.01Mbps down and 3.41Mbps up. It took a minute and 20 seconds to download the 35.01MB game Temple Run 2.

Casio G'zOne Commando 4G LTE Performance testing
Average 4G LTE download speed 5.01Mpbs
Average 4G LTE upload speed 3.41Mbps
App download (Temple Run 2) 35.01MB in 1 minute and 20 seconds
CNET mobile site load 6 seconds
CNET desktop site load 13 seconds
Restart time 41 seconds
Camera boot time 1.89 seconds

The Commando 4G LTE is powered by a dual-core 1.5GHz processor. In general, it operates smoothly. Daily and necessary tasks, like opening the app drawer, switching from landscape to portrait mode and vice versa, and returning to the home pages can all be carried out without a hitch. In addition, when playing the graphics-intensive game, Riptide GP, the app didn't stall or force quit. Though I've seen higher frame-rates and crisper graphics on the game with more powerful devices, you can still have a smooth game experience with this handset. On average, it took about 41 seconds to reboot the device, and 1.89 seconds to launch the camera.

During my durability testing, I dropped the handset a dozen times against a hardwood floor from a height of about 4 feet (it can reportedly survive being dropped 26 times at this height...though no one has said what happens on the 27th). Not only was the screen still intact, but it didn't accumulate any scuffs or scratches. It also survived several kicks down a flight of stairs. Casio also reports that it can survive in -13 degrees Fahrenheit for 96 hours. While we couldn't exhaustively test that spec, I did stick it in the freezer for an hour (which I measured to be a crisp 49 degrees Fahrenheit inside) and it worked fine afterward. As for its water resistance, it survived several quick dunks, as well as a 30 minute submersion in a long flower vase. During this dunking, it was able to receive a phone call. It also kept on ticking after getting splashed around in a 20-minute shower.

During our battery drain test, the 1,800mAh battery lasted 5.87 hours for continuous video playback. It has a reported usage time of up to 9 hours. Anecdotally, it had a decent battery life that I wish would last longer. At the end of the workday, I was surprised to see that it had about 30 percent battery life left with medium usage. Perhaps because it has many applications in the background running (the compass and barometer for example), users who are not mindful of battery saving techniques could see this device drain rather quickly. According to FCC radiation standards, it has a digital SAR rating of 1.08W/kg.

If you're not tied to Verizon and you want a rugged handset with better camera quality, consider the Kyocera Torque from Sprint. It also costs $99.99 under contract, and its 5-megapixel camera takes far clearer photos than the Commando 4G LTE.

However, if you don't mind mediocre photos, consider the Commando. Not only is Verizon's 4G LTE network faster and available in more cities than Sprint's, it also has clear call quality, and a slightly faster processor than the Torque. True, aside from its predecessor, the device is the only rugged handset on Verizon. But even if it's your default choice, it's a solid choice to have nonetheless.

What you'll pay

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