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Samsung Gusto 2 (Verizon Wireless) review: Samsung Gusto 2 (Verizon Wireless)

Samsung Gusto 2 (Verizon Wireless)

Jessica Dolcourt Senior Director, Commerce & Content Operations
Jessica Dolcourt is a passionate content strategist and veteran leader of CNET coverage. As Senior Director of Commerce & Content Operations, she leads a number of teams, including Commerce, How-To and Performance Optimization. Her CNET career began in 2006, testing desktop and mobile software for Download.com and CNET, including the first iPhone and Android apps and operating systems. She continued to review, report on and write a wide range of commentary and analysis on all things phones, with an emphasis on iPhone and Samsung. Jessica was one of the first people in the world to test, review and report on foldable phones and 5G wireless speeds. Jessica began leading CNET's How-To section for tips and FAQs in 2019, guiding coverage of topics ranging from personal finance to phones and home. She holds an MA with Distinction from the University of Warwick (UK).
Expertise Content strategy, team leadership, audience engagement, iPhone, Samsung, Android, iOS, tips and FAQs.
Jessica Dolcourt
5 min read


Samsung Gusto 2 (Verizon Wireless)

The Good

The <b>Samsung Gusto 2's</b> solid, compact design looks and feels good, and call quality was excellent on both sides of the line. Additional accessibility features are a bonus.

The Bad

The Gusto 2's subpar resolution is out-of-date, there's a smaller-than-standard headset jack, and some people may find the convenience keys hard to press.

The Bottom Line

Verizon customers looking for a simple phone will appreciate the Samsung Gusto 2's emphasis on call quality and comfort, despite a few minor flaws.

If you're a simple cell phone, there are three necessary qualities for achieving greatness in your class: a sturdy, comfortable design; easy navigation; and great call quality. The original Samsung Gusto crashed and burned on all three counts. Thankfully, Verizon's second stab at the Gusto line, the Samsung Gusto 2, excels, leaving only a few lingering problems.

Without explicitly saying so, the Gusto 2's accessibility features nod toward seniors and people who prefer to rely on audio, rather than visual, inputs. The Samsung Gusto 2 will cost $79.99 at launch after a $50 mail-in rebate and with a new two-year contract. At the time of review, Verizon hadn't publicly set the phone's release date.

A vast improvement over its cheap-feeling predecessor in the design department, the clamshell Gusto 2 both looks and feels appealing. Measuring 3.8 inches tall by 1.9 inches wide by 0.75 inch thick, the Gusto 2 gets a smooth, gunmetal finish; a compact feel; and contouring that makes it extremely grippable. I could take the handset for a jog without ever worrying about it sliding loose. It feels fine on the ear, and the construction seems strong enough to withstand multiple drops and endless opening and closing. The 3.9-ounce weight contributes to the overall impression of strength.

The Samsung Gusto 2 is a compact, solid slug of a flip phone.

Design-wise, the Gusto 2 is a flip-phone faithful. There's a 1-inch color external screen that displays essentials like the date, time, battery strength, signal strength, and alerts to missed calls and messages. Above that is the camera lens. Flip open the phone face on its thick hinge to greet the 2-inch display.

Here's where the first bit of bad news rears up. Like the original Gusto, the sequel has a QQVGA resolution on its internal screen, which means it uses only 128x160 pixels to display the picture. Most simple phones bottom out at the QVGA resolution (320x240 pixels), so the result is a display that comes across as soft, rather than crisp. It's disappointing that Samsung didn't improve the quality here. There is support for 260,000 colors, and the colors look bright and deep enough.

Below the screens, the keypad is composed of some extensive shortcut and navigation buttons, and the backlit, alphanumeric dial buttons. Buttons are large, rubberized, responsive, and comfortable. The two soft keys and directional pad with the central select button take care of most navigation. There are also shortcuts for ICE (in case of emergency) numbers, for the texting menu, and for voice mail access. You can also do things like turn vibrate mode on and off from the keypad, and launch voice commands.

The Gusto 2 has quite a few other external buttons. On the left spine sits the volume rocker and Micro-USB charging port. On the right is an identical rocker to launch the camera and speakerphone. I had no problem pressing the buttons, but I'm imagining my grandma fumbling around and wishing they were larger and better marked. I also wish that Samsung had added a little more redundancy with a software speakerphone option as well as the physical button. The right spine is also home to a 2.5mm headset jack, another opportunity Samsung missed to elevate the Gusto 2 to the 3.5mm standard.

Since the Gusto 2 is primarily about calling, let's tackle the phone book first. There's room for five phone numbers, e-mail, a photo ID, and one of 20 polyphonic ringtones, including silent mode. There's also support for calling groups, physical addresses, a birth date, and notes.

I like these physical buttons for the camera and speakerphone, but want software equivalents.

Speed dial also comes standard, but what's nice is that as part of the enhanced accessibility features, you also get the three ICE numbers for emergencies, whisper mode (which makes it easier for recipients to hear soft-spoken callers), and audio readout for menus and submenus, texts, the dial pad, caller ID, and missed calls. The voice commands feature is another Verizon standard.

One complaint I have is how difficult it is to find the various accessibility features, which are buried in settings submenus throughout the phone. The features won't be useful in the real world if phone owners don't know where to turn them on.

Of course, Verizon also outfits the Gusto 2 with the usual communication essentials of text and multimedia messaging and Bluetooth. Personal organizer tools include a calculator, a calendar, an alarm clock, a stop watch, a world clock, a notepad, and phone search.

What's surprising are the other features you can access: a browser, VZ Navigator's subscription-based turn-by-turn directions app, mobile e-mail, and hooks into social networking. I can't forget to mention Fake Call, an app that helps you slip away from awkward real-life conversations with a fictitious call that, gosh darn, you just have to take. So sorry.

There are also game demos for Tetris and Uno, and you can download more games and wallpaper from Verizon's online store.

The Gusto 2 has a 1.3-megapixel camera, up from a VGA camera the first time around.

The Gusto 2 does replace the original Gusto's VGA camera with a 1.3-megapixel lens, and it also doubles the phone's internal storage to 64MB. There's not a lot I can say in defense of the camera's small, grainy, and dull images, except that it's better than VGA and fine for photo ID.

I tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1900 MHz) Samsung Gusto 2 in San Francisco on Verizon's network. In my tests, call quality was excellent on both sides of the line. My test caller, who has particularly picky hearing, praised the Gusto 2 for its unusual clarity with no background noise or crackles, and strong volume. I heard a little wavering on my end of the line, which made my caller's voice sound like it was slightly going in and out, but for the most part I agreed about volume and call clarity.

We also tested the Gusto 2's whisper mode, which amplified the microphone so that my caller could hear me better without me having to raise my voice. She loved it, and at my regular speaking volumes, found it almost overly loud.

Samsung Gusto 2 call quality sample Listen now: "="">

Speakerphone quality was also very strong. My test caller reported that my volume dropped when I held the phone at waist level, and she heard echo as well. Although she could hear me very clearly, she also mentioned that a noisy outdoor or office environment would probably drown out my voice. Speakerphone remained clear and pretty loud on my end, and echo, though still present, was kept to a minimum. I could comfortably use the Gusto 2's speakerphone for an entire conversation.

The Gusto 2 runs on a 400MHz processor. It has a rated talk time of 7 hours and 15.6 days standby time on its 1,000mAh battery. During our call tests, it lasted 7.22 hours. According to the FCC's radiation measurements, the Gusto 2 has a digital SAR of 0.41 watt per kilogram (1.6 watts per kilogram is the maximum allowed).

Samsung has managed to turn around the Gusto 2 by improving the phone's most important features: call quality and design. I also appreciate the bump in camera and onboard memory, and the extra effort to include accessibility options like voice readout of the menu and texts, ICE numbers, and whisper mode for calls. Yet in a few other ways, Samsung stopped short of updating the simple, sturdy flip phone. A step up in screen resolution and a 3.5mm headset jack standard could have gone a long way toward making the Gusto 2 as good as it could be.

The $80 asking price isn't a steal, but it is at the low end of Verizon's range. If you're a steadfast Verizon customer, the Samsung Gusto 2 is a great choice for a basic phone.


Samsung Gusto 2 (Verizon Wireless)

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 7