Review: Casio G'zOne Commando
Casio's line of rugged G'zOne devices have always had their own look. Chunky, tough, and brutish, they manage to combine form and function in a style that's unique to the brand. The Commando, Casio's latest G'zOne device, follows in the stylistic footprints of its predecessors.
The Commando, as the name suggests, makes most other smartphones look downright dainty. It has a commanding, militaristic look that simply says, "I'm tougher'n your weak, girly phone." There's a high bezel surrounding and protecting the screen. It is covered in a rubbery material that provides a lot of grip. The back surface has a similar feel. It's a big phone, wide and thick, and feels enormous in the hand. It is also fairly heavy. With the large size and grippy surface, this phone fights pockets going in and coming out. It is not comfortable to carry around in your jeans.
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The front of the Commando has black and red style cues around the display, which itself is recessed several millimeters. Directly below the display, Casio has placed four capacitive buttons for interacting with the Android system. The Home and Back buttons, which are in the middle, are easy to interact with. I found my thumb hitting up against the bezel, however, when using the Menu and Search keys. It's a bit uncomfortable.
The sides of the Commando are bristling with controls. The volume toggle is on the left, close to the top of the Commando. It feels good to use, and has excellent travel and feedback. Directly beneath it, Casio has given the Commando a dedicated button with which to launch its G'zGear application (more on that later). This button is too big and sticks out too much. It is way too easy to depress it when gripping the Commando tightly. Below the G'zGear button, there are contacts for a dock. The metal contacts are recessed pretty deeply. In the very bottom of the left side, you'll find the power/lock key. This is exactly the wrong spot for this button, but at least it works well.
The 3.5mm headset jack is positioned on the top right side. It is hidden under a bulky hatch that protects it from water. The jack is also set fairly deep into the phone. I had trouble using headphones with angled jacks on them; they wouldn't snap in all the way. Below the headphone jack, there is a hatch covering the microUSB port. This hatch is also bulky, and the microUSB port itself is recessed deeply, too. This hatch also protects the Commando from water. Lastly, there's a dedicated camera button near the bottom. It is a two-stage button and both stages were clearly defined.
As with other watertight phones, the battery compartment of the Commando is sealed with a locking plate and rubber gaskets. Slide the lock switch to the side, then you will be able to pry the battery cover off. Sadly, the microSD slot is buried under the battery. Given how much work it is to remove the battery cover and re-install it, I suspect most people won't bother too often.
Let's not forget that the Commando is rugged. It can take a beating. Drops? No problem. Sweaty hands? Pshaw. Accidentally leave it in your freezer? Not to worry.