Verizon Wireless Escapade review: Verizon Wireless Escapade

Verizon Wireless Escapade

Nicole Lee

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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Verizon Wireless Escapade

The Good

The Verizon Wireless Escapade is slim and lightweight, has a 2-megapixel camera, a nice display, GPS, Bluetooth, and a dual-mode CDMA/quad-band GSM chipset.

The Bad

The Verizon Wireless Escapade has very flat keys, especially with the navigation array.

The Bottom Line

The Verizon Wireless Escapade is ideal for globe-trotting Verizon customers who just want a simple camera phone.

If you wanted to use a cell phone in the U.S. and abroad, we would usually recommend you get a quad-band GSM handset if you were an AT&T or a T-Mobile customer, or a dual-mode CDMA/GSM phone if you were a Verizon Wireless or a Sprint customer. So far, the only dual-mode CDMA/GSM phone available in the U.S. is the RIM BlackBerry Tour, a rather advanced smartphone with a lot of business-slanted applications, not to mention a hefty price. In an effort to diversify its world phone offerings, Verizon has come out with the fairly basic Verizon Wireless Escapade, manufactured by PCD. It is also a dual-mode CDMA/GSM phone, but it is not as complicated as the Tour and is only available for $29.99 with a two-year service agreement.

Measuring 3.9 inches long by 1.9 inches wide by 0.9 inch thick, the Verizon Wireless Escapade has the look of a normal clamshell phone except for its glossy red shell. It's slim and sleek, with silver and black trim. The Escapade is quite lightweight at 3.4 ounces and feels comfortable in the hand.

The Verizon Wireless Escapade is a slim and lightweight clamshell.

On the front is a simple 1.1-inch 65,000 color external display. It shows the date, time, battery life, signal strength, and caller ID. It also supports photo caller ID, and you can use it as a camera viewfinder. You can adjust the clock format and the wallpaper for the front display. On the left side of the phone are the volume rocker and the headset jack, and the charger jack, the voice command key, and the camera key are on the right. On the back of the phone is the camera lens.

Flip open the phone and you'll find a nice 2-inch display with 262,000-color support and 176x220-pixel resolutions. The display is good looking, with bright colors and sharp legible text. You can adjust the backlight time, the clock format on the standby screen, the menu layout, and the font sizes for dialed numbers and menu text.

Underneath the display is the navigation array, which consists of two soft keys, a four-way navigation toggle with a middle OK key, a speakerphone key, and a dedicated messaging key that opens up a new text message. The array is very flat to the surface of the phone, with almost no delineation between the keys except for the navigation toggle in the middle. The Send, Clear, and End/Power keys are part of the number keypad underneath, and that, too, is quite flat to the surface of the phone. However, the number keypad has raised lines in between each key, so there is some texture for dialing by feel.

The Verizon Wireless Escapade has a 500-entry phone book with room in each entry for five numbers, two e-mail addresses, an IM screen name, and a street address. You can organize your contacts into caller groups, pair a contact with a photo for caller ID, and with one of 30 polyphonic ringtones and alert tones. Other basic features include a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, text and multimedia messaging, a calculator, a tip calculator, a calendar, an alarm clock, a stopwatch, a world clock, a unit converter, and a notepad.

More-advanced users will appreciate the voice command feature, Bluetooth, mobile instant messenger (AIM, Windows Live Messenger, and Yahoo), a simple mobile Web browser, and GPS, which comes with location-based services like Verizon's VZ Navigator and Chaperone. You can also get e-mail either via Verizon's mobile e-mail service that delivers e-mail directly to your in-box from services like Yahoo, AOL, and Windows Live, or via mobile Web e-mail, which just opens up the Web browser. The mobile Web e-mail is free, while the mobile e-mail option requires an application download and a $5 monthly fee.

The Verizon Wireless Escapade has a SIM card on the back that can be used abroad.

Of course the most important feature of the Verizon Wireless Escapade is that it has a dual-mode CDMA/GSM chipset. You can use the Verizon Wireless network when you're in the country and when you're abroad you can use the preloaded SIM card on any GSM network in the world. Verizon Wireless doesn't have roaming agreements with other carriers in the U.S., so you can't use it locally; only in other countries.

The Verizon Wireless Escapade has a 2-megapixel camera on the back.

The Verizon Wireless Escapade comes with a 2-megapixel camera. It doesn't have a self-portrait mirror, but you can use the external display as a "subdisplay" in the camera settings for a self-portrait viewfinder. You can take pictures in four resolutions (1,600x1,200, 1,280x960, 640x480, 320x240), six white-balance presets, and four color effects. Other camera settings include the brightness, the choice of three shutter sounds plus a silent mode, and two capture modes (landscape or portrait). Photo quality was surprisingly good for a simple camera. Images looked sharp and vibrant, albeit with a slightly blue tinge. There is no camcorder in the Escapade.

The Verizon Wireless Escapade takes decent pictures.

You can personalize the Escapade with a variety of wallpaper, graphics, and alert tones. It doesn't come with any games. If you want more customization options and games, you can purchase and download them from Verizon via the wireless Web browser.

We tested the Verizon Wireless Escapade in San Francisco using the Verizon Wireless network, and we were very impressed with the call quality. On our end, callers sounded loud and clear with a natural-sounding voice. There was hardly any static or noise in the background.

On their end, callers could hardly tell we were on a cell phone. They said we came through crystal clear and voice quality was very close to landline quality. Our voice sounded natural, and we went through automated voice response systems without issue. Surprisingly, speakerphone calls were quite good, too. Callers said the speakerphone quality didn't sound too different from calls not on a speakerphone. There was no need to speak closely to the mic for people to hear us clearly. On our end, the speaker sounded fine: a little harsh and tinny, but not that bad.

The Verizon Wireless Escapade has a rated battery life of 3.8 hours talk time and 13.2 days standby time. Our tested talk time came close at 3 hours and 15 minutes. According to the FCC radiation tests, the Escapade has a digital SAR of 1.29 watts per kilogram.


Verizon Wireless Escapade

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 8