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UTStarcom G'zOne Type-V (Verizon Wireless) review: UTStarcom G'zOne Type-V (Verizon Wireless)

The ultrastrong G'zOne Type-V is a perfect phone for extreme sports enthusiasts. It lacks some key offerings but otherwise offers a decent selection of features and performance.

Kent German

Kent German

Senior Managing Editor / Features

Kent is a senior managing editor at CNET News. A veteran of CNET since 2003, he reviewed the first iPhone and has worked in both the London and San Francisco offices. When not working, he's planning his next vacation, walking his dog, or watching planes land at the airport (yes, really).

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8 min read

Despite its rather ugly-duckling appearance, the Type-V is a welcome change after the seemingly endless parade of thin, pretty phones we've endured over the last year. With a common silver color scheme, an external antenna, and a bulbous exterior display, it makes zero effort to be trendy, which is a good thing. It's also one of the biggest (4.1x2.0x1.1 inches) and heaviest (5.3 ounces) phones we've seen in a long time. It's better worn on a belt clip than in a pocket, but its bulk is hardly a negative; in fact, it contributes to the phone's exceptional durability. The Type-V feels quite solid in the hand and is comfortable to hold while talking.


UTStarcom G'zOne Type-V (Verizon Wireless)

The Good

The G'zOne Type-V is an extremely rugged durable phone that can withstand submersion in water and multiple drops to the floor. It offers decent call quality, a speakerphone, a 2-megapixel camera, and support for 3G EV-DO networks.

The Bad

The G'zOne Type-V lacks Bluetooth, a music player, analog roaming, and an expandable memory slot.

The Bottom Line

The ultrastrong G'zOne Type-V is a perfect phone for extreme sports enthusiasts. It lacks some key offerings but otherwise offers a decent selection of features and performance.
If Aquaman or Superman ever needed a cell phone to keep in touch with the other members of the Justice League, Verizon Wireless's new G'zOne Type-V would be the perfect handset. Rugged, strong, and waterproof, the Type-V is well suited to the superhero lifestyle. Aquaman could take it underwater (albeit one meter), while Superman could use it while battling villains in the most extreme environments. It's not the prettiest phone around, but like a superhero, it's built to take a lot of blows. Look out Nextel, Verizon is coming after you. The feature set packs a wallop as well, with support for EV-DO networks, a 2-megapixel camera, and a speakerphone, though curiously, Bluetooth and a music player are absent. The Type-V costs a hefty $300 with a two-year contract. Though the phone is made by Casio, it's marketed by UTStarcom.

Though the Type-V doesn't have any superpowers, it's built to take a beating. Also, like most Nextel phones, it meets military equipment specifications for exposure to harsh conditions. Verizon says it subjected the phone to a battery of tests, including water immersion, dropping, vibration, and resistance to various elements. The former is probably the most impressive as water and cell phones are natural foes. The Type-V is designed to survive a dunking in a meter of water for up to 30 minutes. We're not sure how you'd use a cell phone underwater, but if the occasion arises, the Type-V will do the trick. We submerged the phone and took it in the shower and had no problems. We didn't replicate all of the tests, but it's worth noting Verizon's promises: The carrier says the Type-V will withstand rainfall of 2 inches per hour with a 40mph wind; a temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit with 95 percent humidity; and extended exposure to salt, fog, dust, and solar radiation.

The plastic bumper takes the brunt of drops to the ground.

We also dropped the Type-V to the floor a fair number of times, from heights of a few inches or feet. Instead of rubber sidings, the phone has a plastic bumper on the bottom end that's designed to handle impact shocks. Though the bumper certainly is odd-looking, it seems to do the trick, and it even made the phone bounce on a carpeted floor. On harder surfaces there was no bouncing, but the Type-V emerged unscathed except for one instance where the battery cover popped off. Since there's no guarantee the Type-V will always land bottom-end first, we also tried dropping it from other angles. Overall, we didn't have any problems.

It's not often we see a round external display on a cell phone. The Type-V's measures an inch in diameter and is surrounded by a silver frame. Sometimes we gripe about monochrome displays on expensive phones, but in the Type-V's case, the lack of color is a good thing. For the most part the display is visible in almost any environment, even when the backlighting is dim. The display shows the date, time, and caller ID (but not photo caller ID). Battery live and signal strength are displayed as well, but they are more difficult to decipher when the backlighting is off. The backlight time and brightness are not customizable.

The camera lens and flash sit just above the display. Both are unique among camera phones: the lens is quite large and the flash is exceptionally bright. Yet there's no mirror, so self-portraits are awkward. For taking photos, a dedicated shutter button sits on the right spine just below the volume rocker. The headset jack sits on the left spine, while the charger port rests on the bottom of the rear flap. Both have secure covers that must be fitted securely before you take the Type-V in the water. Interestingly, the battery cover has a locking mechanism, which also must be secured tightly. The Type-V comes with a small tool for doing so, or you can just use your fingernail.

The locking mechanism on the battery cover secures the phone against water damage.

The Type-V's internal display measures an expansive 2.2 inches (204x320 pixels) and supports 65,536 colors. Though we're becoming attached to 262,000-color displays on multimedia phones, the Type-V's screen was perfectly serviceable for viewing photos and applications and even for navigating through the much-maligned Verizon menu interface. You can change the backlight's time, font size, and contrast.

Below the gargantuan hinge are the navigation controls. A five-way toggle doubles as a shortcut to the Web browser, Verizon's Get it Now service, the camera and pictures menu, and one user-defined shortcut. In standby mode, the OK button in the center of the toggle opens the main menu, while the two soft keys open the phone book and the messaging menu. Below the toggle are two additional shortcut buttons. A quick press to the left control opens the still camera, while holding the same button down opens the video camera. Meanwhile, the right button activates the speakerphone when pressed once and turns the camera flash into a steady light when held down. While we appreciate the large number of feature shortcuts, the navigation controls aren't the most tactile. They're somewhat slippery and flat with the surface of the phone. And though the toggle is large, the other keys are a bit small.

The backlit keypad buttons are somewhat tricky as well. Though they are large and spaced far enough apart, they also rather slippery and flat with the phone's surface. We didn't have any misdials, but dialing by feel was difficult. Just above the keypad are the talk and end/power buttons and a dedicated clear key.

The Type-V's feature set has its high points, but it lacks some key offerings we've come to expect from 3G multimedia phones. The internal phone book holds 500 contacts. It's a bit small for such a feature-rich phone, but each entry holds four phone numbers and two e-mail addresses. You can organize callers into groups, pair contacts with a picture for caller ID (though it won't show up on the external display), and select a ring tone from the phone's small selection of 10 polyphonic tones. Other features include a powerful vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, voice dialing and commands, instant messaging, e-mail, a voice recorder, a calendar, an alarm clock, voice dialing, a notepad, a world clock, a calculator, a countdown timer, and a stopwatch. We like that you can activate speakerphone before you make a call, but it's disappointing the Type-V doesn't offer Bluetooth or an expandable memory slot. As a result, you're limited to 31MB of shared space (2MB is reserved for downloads, 15MB for photos). Though that's not a tiny amount, a multimedia phone should offer more.

The Type-V's camera comes with a flash but not a self-portrait mirror.

The 2-megapixel camera takes pictures in five resolutions (1,600x,1,200, 1,280x960, 640x480, 320x240, and 120x160) and comes with a 3-, 5-, or 10-second self-timer; brightness and white-balance controls; and three color effects. There's also the aforementioned flash and a 2X digital zoom, though it's unusable at the highest resolution. The video camera records clips in one resolution (176x144) with sound and at 15 frames per second. The flash and the zoom are usable here, too, and you can adjust the brightness and white balance. Clips are limited to a short 15 seconds. Photo quality is good, but our images were a little blurrier than we'd like for a 2-megapixel shooter. Colors are bright, though, and the flash is very effective. On the downside, photo downloading is cumbersome as there's no way to transfer them to a computer without sending them as multimedia messages.

The G'zOne Type-V has decent photo quality.

The Type-V supports Verizon's EV-DO V Cast video service. The V Cast interface is standard for all phones from the carrier that support the content. We're miffed, though, that the Type-V lacks a digital music player and access to the V Cast Music Store. It just seems strange that Verizon would integrate one feature but not the other. Criticisms aside, you have the option to purchase a variety of Verizon applications, including VZ Navigator, Backup Assistance, and Verizon's SuperPages 2.0 for directory information. The Type-V also supports a host of alternative services, such as the Weather Channel and, of course, Verizon's Get it Now Internet service, which has even more programming choices. There are no included games, but you can always buy 3D titles via the WAP 2 wireless Web browser; just remember that Verizon uses BREW instead of Java. You can personalize the Type-V with a variety of wallpapers, display themes, sounds, and clock styles, or you can buy more options if you want them. More ring tones are available as well.

We tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1900) Type-V in San Francisco using Verizon Wireless service. Call quality was quite good, with sharp clear audio and loud volume on both ends. At higher levels, sound was marginally bass-heavy, but audio quality overall was superb. We even took the phone in the shower and had decent sound quality, considering. Speakerphone calls were admirable as well, though sound is a tad muffled at higher volumes. But that's hardly out of the ordinary for a speakerphone. Unfortunately, you can't make calls with the speakerphone closed.

We never had a problem getting a signal with the Type-V and experienced no interference from other electronic devices. The phone even rang when it was in a six inches of water. EV-DO coverage also was broad in our test area, but be mindful that it will be less comprehensive in more rural locations. Web browsing was sufficiently zippy, and game and application downloads took just a few seconds. Our only real complaint is that an outdoorsy phone like the Type-V should support Verizon's analog roaming network. Since the handset is designed to be used in the backwoods, you should be able to make calls there.

Video performance was acceptable on the Type-V, though not outstanding. Streaming media was somewhat pixelated, but it was rarely jerky, and voices matched the subject's mouths. Also, we didn't have any rebuffering problems, and the volume was loud.

The G'zOne Type-V has a rated talk-time battery life of 3 hours and 20 minutes and a promised standby time of 7.1 days. Our tests showed a talk time of 3 hours and 40 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the Type-V has a digital SAR rating of 1.28 watts per kilogram.


UTStarcom G'zOne Type-V (Verizon Wireless)

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 8
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