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printed December 19, 2014
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Review: Samsung Convoy 2

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Slick urbanites looking to impress the Saturday night crowd need not apply. No, the Convoy is a rugged clamshell that can take a beating out in the real world and still deliver the goods when it comes to performance.

As is the norm for phones of this ilk, it is a chunky block of tough-as-nails plastic. It feels as solid as a hockey puck in your hand. All of the moving parts fit firmly together, and the Convoy 2 feels like it could weather a hurricane with no problem. I was somewhat surprised by the slick feel of the plastics used in the Convoy 2. It is a slippery phone, which isn't the best thing for a device meant to be used out in the elements. A soft-touch paint job would have made more sense to me.

This is not a pocket-friendly phone. It'll fit, but its brick-shaped form will feel awkward. I imagine the Convoy 2 will be worn in a holster on the hip of the un-hip user.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

The front face of the Convoy 2 offers a tiny little display and dedicated controls for the media player in the form of three buttons. The buttons have good travel and feedback. The left side of the Convoy 2 has several controls, including a user-assignable shortcut button, the volume toggle, and the microSD card port. The shortcut button is red, which makes it easy to see. It also has a rough texture, making it easy to find without looking. Travel and feedback was pretty good. The volume toggle is a bit too flat for my tastes, but travel and feedback were OK. I could imagine gloved fingers having a hard time using the toggle. The microSD slot is protected by a hatch, which is easily removed.

There is a 2.5mm headset jack (boo, hiss, as that size requires an adaptor for most stereo headphones) on the right side of the Convoy 2, close to the top. The hatch covering it is not a problem. There is a speakerphone button below the headset jack. It is a bit small, but travel and feedback were OK. Last, there microUSB port is positioned close to the bottom of the right side. It, too, has a hatch, which is not a big deal to interact with.

The Convoy 2's hinge is rock solid, and offers a pleasant amount of spring assistance to help open the Convoy 2 up. The control cluster of the Convoy 2 is large and well organized. The d-pad, which is about the size of a quarter, has good travel and feedback, but the edges were not well defined, making it easy to accidentally press one of the adjacent buttons.

There are seven other buttons in the control cluster arranged around the d-pad. There are two soft keys up top. Moving down, there’s a dual-function voice action / flashlight button and a camera button. Across the bottom are the end/power, clear/back, and send buttons. All of these offer excellent travel and feedback.

The number pad is typical for Samsung: It is large, has relatively flat keys, and has great key response. It was easy to use for dialing numbers.

The battery cover has a little rotating lock for removing it. Use your fingernail to turn it, and it opens.

The one important thing to keep in mind with the Convoy 2 is that while it is rugged, and will take a beating, it is not waterproof. It meets MIL-SPEC 810F for altitude, temperature extremes, solar radiation, humidity, salt fog, sand, dust, vibration, and shock, but don't drop it into the drink.

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