Review: Casio G'zOne Ravine
The internal display is a 2.2-inch, QVGA screen. It wasn't remarkable, but it did a fine job with the phone's interface and the apps provided. Pictures looked a bit grainy, with a noticeable screen door effect, but text was legible and sharp enough to make the menus easy to navigate. The screen held up fine in outdoor light, but it could have been better. Reading text was okay, but viewing angle was poor, so it was difficult to see colors in the camera viewfinder unless I was looking at the screen head-on. That's not especially convenient for taking outdoor shots down low or above my head.
The external display is a 1.4-inch square in the middle of a circular window. The 96 by 96 pixel screen is monochrome, and you can switch from light text on a dark background to dark text on a light backing. Even with such a low resolution, Casio puts it to good use as a clock or compass, among other features. The external display was very easy to read on a sunny day.
Sound quality from the Casio G'zOne Ravine is surprisingly good for a phone that needs to use waterproof speakers. Call quality was good, a definite improvement from the last generation of G'zOne flip phones. There was a slightly digitized, muffled quality to my calls, but no problems that scream "waterproof phone." My callers said I came through sounding nice and clean.
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The phone has an awesome speaker. It was loud enough that I could use it in a car driving down the highway with the windows cracked open. Voices and music both sounded very clear on the speakerphone. Even though it lacked a strong bass kick, I could easily fill a room with sound playing tunes on the Ravine. This also translated to a very loud ring. With the ringer turned off, the Ravine had a very strong vibration, as well.
Signal strength on the Casio Ravine was okay, but not exemplary. In my house, a notorious Verizon Wireless dead zone, the phone usually reported a weaker signal than other Verizon phones I have on hand. This translated to some calls that did not go through after dialing. Once I had connected, I never experienced a dropped call, but I did have a few non-starters.
Data speeds were even worse than I imagined. The phone uses Verizon's faster EV-DO Rev. A network for data, but pages in the Mobile Web browser were very slow to load. Even the simple Verizon Wireless launch page took a very long time to load.
The Casio Ravine had solid battery life. After a full day's use, I still had power to spare. With plenty of camera use and navigation, the phone drained more quickly, but still managed to last through a full day. I wouldn't count on this phone to make it through a weekend of camping, at least not if you're going to be using it for directions and nature photography. But if you'll only be making phone calls, the phone should do fine. In standby mode, the phone easily held onto a charge for more than a week without draining completely. Verizon Wireless notes that using the phone as a push-to-talk (PTT) device will drain the battery much faster, and I did not test the PTT features, so depending on whether you'll be using the walkie-talkie features, your mileage will vary.
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Phone Scoop is on site in San Francisco to take in all the breaking news and hands-on experiences of the fall CTIA trade show. Be sure to check for full coverage and handset first impressions here.
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