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

UTStarcom G'zOne Type-S

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Nicole Lee
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Nicole Lee

Former Editor

Nicole Lee is a senior associate editor for CNET, covering cell phones, Bluetooth headsets, and all things mobile. She's also a fan of comic books, video games, and of course, shiny gadgets.

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7.7

UTStarcom G'zOne Type-S

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.

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.

Design
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.

We really liked the navigation controls and keypad of the G'zOne Type-S. Not only were all the keys really easy to press, they were well-spaced and had smooth bumps and curves so we could dial by feel. The navigation controls consist of two soft keys, and a five-way toggle that doubles as four user-defined shortcuts and a middle OK button. Underneath the two soft keys are two shortcut keys that have different functions depending on how long you hold down the key. Press the left key quickly for the still camera, while a longer press activates the video camera. Similarly, a short press on the right key activates the speakerphone, while a long press turns the camera flash LED into a steady light. The keys have a subtle blue backlight when activated.

The G'zOne Type-S comes packed with a desktop charging cradle and a headset jack adapter.

Features
Even though the G'zOne Type-S is the successor to the Type-V, it would be a mistake to call the Type-S an upgrade, because its features are somewhat of a downgrade from the Type-V. Billed as a more basic phone, the Type-S doesn't have EV-DO, doesn't support V Cast, and has a VGA camera instead of a megapixel lens. But before we delve further, let's start with the basics. The G'zOne Type-S's phone book holds about 500 contacts and each entry holds four numbers and two e-mail addresses. You can organize them into groups, match them with a picture for caller ID (though it won't show up on the external display as mentioned previously), as well as one of 10 polyphonic ringtones. Simple features include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, a speakerphone (which can be activated prior to a call), a voice recorder, a calendar, an alarm clock, voice dialing and voice command support, a notepad, a world clock, a calculator, a countdown timer, and a stopwatch. There's also e-mail, a mobile Web browser, and instant messaging. Despite the fewer features on the Type-S, it does have something the Type-V does not--Bluetooth support. This is a welcome addition to the G'zOne series, as it supports the hands-free, headset, and dial-up networking Bluetooth profiles.


The G'zOne Type-S took mediocre photos.

As mentioned before, the Type-S comes equipped with a basic VGA camera with 2x digital zoom. It can take pictures in three resolutions (640x480, 320x240, and 120x160) and has a self-timer of up to 10 seconds. Other settings include brightness, white balance, and three color effects. You can also choose to turn the shutter sound on or off. There's a video camera option as well, which can record clips in only one resolution (176x144) and up to 15 seconds in length. Video camera settings include brightness and white balance, as well as the flash, which can be used as a recording light. Typical of most VGA cameras, photo quality was dull, blurry, and utterly mediocre. Video quality didn't fare much better, with jerky and pixilated moving images.

Of course, as with most Verizon phones, the G'zOne Type-S has access to Verizon's Get It Now Internet service, plus the option to purchase Verizon applications like VZ Navigator, which is Verizon's location-based navigation service. The phone doesn't come with any games, but you can always buy more titles via the included Get It Now service. Personalization options are plentiful with a variety of wallpapers, display themes, alert sounds, and more.

Performance
We tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1900) Type-S in San Francisco using Verizon Wireless. We were very impressed with the call quality, with fantastic voice clarity on both ends. Callers could even hear us in noisier environments like on the city sidewalk. Speakerphone quality was great as well, though it was muffled a little. It even worked when we dunked it underwater. We also tried the phone out while in the shower, and were surprised that we could hear our callers quite well even in that environment. We also managed to pair the Type-S with the Nokia BH-801 Bluetooth headset successfully. Call quality from the headset was similarly loud and clear.

The G'zOne Type-S has a rated talk-time battery life of 3.38 hours and a rated standby time of 7 days. Our tests revealed a talk time of 3 hours and 20 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the Type-S has a digital SAR rating of 1.34 watts per kilogram.