UTStarcom G'zOne Type-S review: UTStarcom G'zOne Type-S

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The Good The Verizon Wireless G'zOne Type-S is a military-tested phone meant to withstand everything from water immersion to drops on the floor. It has Bluetooth support, a speakerphone, and flashlight functionality.

The Bad The Verizon Wireless G'zOne Type-S has a VGA camera that took mediocre photos. It also does not have analog roaming.

The Bottom Line Though it is has rather basic offerings, the Verizon Wireless G'zOne Type-S is a rugged and sturdy phone perfect for extreme sports enthusiasts, industrial workers, and those who just want a reliable and durable phone.

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7.7 Overall

We've seen plenty of stylish and skinny fashion phones cross our paths over the past year, and while we think they're pretty, we always take care to be gentle with them because some of them are so delicate and fragile. With the Casio G'zOne series of phones, however, you can toss them around as much as you want. Tough as nails, the G'zOne phones are bulky and military-tested to be rugged, durable, and water-resistant--perfect for those of us who tend to use and abuse our phones. The latest offering is the Verizon Wireless G'zOne Type-S, a smaller and more basic version of the G'zOne Type-V, that debuted last year. Though it doesn't have EV-DO or a megapixel camera like its predecessor, it does come with Bluetooth support, which was noticeably absent in the Type-V. Because this is more of a basic phone, we were willing to do away with the fancier features and focus more on the Type-S's durable design, which makes it perfect for extreme sports enthusiasts or just the very clumsy. We're also glad to see that it's affordably priced at $149.99 after a $50 rebate and a two-year service agreement.

If you were to compare the Motorola Razr V3 to a sleek sports racer, the G'zOne Type-S would be comparable to a big, hulking SUV. Make no mistake; the Type-S is certainly not your everyday fashion phone, with its bulky sides and bumpy exterior (its entire back is dimpled for shock absorption). The handset is a little smaller than its big brother, the Type-V, but not by much--measuring 3.8 inches tall by 2 inches wide by 1.1 inches thick. Weighing a hefty 5.1 ounces, the Type-S is certainly not something you want to be slipping into your shirt pocket. It features a loop antenna on the top, making it look more streamlined than the Type-V, which has a stubby external antenna. Its large size gives it a very rugged and sturdy feel in the hand and is certainly part of what makes the Type-S such a durable phone.

Though its dark blue exterior may seem ugly to some, a lot of what went into the design of the Type-S is underneath its surface. Built to be tough, the G'zOne Type-S is built from shock-absorbent silicon, rubber packing, dust and water filters, water-resistant screws and keys, and a sealed lithium ion battery. In fact, the battery cover has a locking mechanism that you can secure before taking the phone in water. The Type-S comes with a small plastic tool for doing so, but you can do it with your fingernail, too. All of this sturdy packaging has apparently been subjected to a battery of military testing, like water immersion, impact shock, solar radiation, sand and dust, extreme temperatures, fluid contamination, gunfire vibration, fungus, and even explosions, as per U.S. Military standard (code MIL-STD-810F if you're keeping score). Do note that all ports were closed (battery, headset jack, and charger) when these tests were done.

The G'zOne Type-S is water-resistant.

We weren't able to replicate all of these tests, but we did dunk the Type-S into a bucket of water and left it there for a good 30 minutes or so and didn't notice any difference in performance. We also dropped it from several different heights, kicked it down a flight of stairs, and sent it flying across a room, with no ill effect. We noticed the phone even bounced a couple of times on a carpeted floor, probably because of its rubber housing. Verizon states that the Type-S can survive in various conditions, including up to 2 inches per hour with a 40 mph wind, up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit with 95-percent humidity, a total of 26 drops from a height of 4.9 feet on a variety of surfaces, and it can resist dust as fine as silica flour. Overall, we were very impressed with the durability of the Type-S and can safely recommend it for extreme sports enthusiasts or the very clumsy.

The G'zOne Type-S has a VGA camera lens and a flash LED.

On the front of the G'zOne Type-S is a round external display, which mimics that of the Type-V. It measures about 1.3 inches across, and it displays all the necessary information, including date and time, caller ID, and battery and signal strength. In addition, it can be used with the phone's stopwatch application. There's no photo caller ID however, because of its monochrome screen. The external screen has a subtle backlight when the phone is activated. Above the external screen are the camera lens and flash LED, while the left spine is home to the headset jack, and the speakerphone key, volume rocker, and voice command key are located on the right. The flash LED on the front also doubles as a very bright flashlight.

When the phone is flipped open, you'll find a decent 1.8-inch (176x220 pixels) display that supports 65,000 colors. Though we prefer 262,000-color displays, the screen on the Type-S actually looks pretty good, with well-defined colors, and is fine for viewing photos and applications. We only wish that the Type-S did away with the confusing Verizon menu interface that requires too many clicks to get to a desired application. Thankfully, you can adjust the backlight time, the contrast, and the dial font size.

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