Commando smartphone can survive typical abuse

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Milwaukee Journal Sentinel technology reporter Stanley A. Miller explains why the Casio G’zOne Commando is one tough smartphone.

Mobile phones have become quite precious little things over the years. Sleek. Dainty. Fragile.

It seems like the smarter the phone, the softer the phone, and the more susceptible it is to being unrecoverably broken if it’s accidentally dropped, splashed or otherwise mistreated.

So when a new ruggedized Android phone comes out, it’s exciting. A smartphone that can survive more than a trip to the local Alterra? Sign me up.

The G’zOne Commando is made by Casio and available from Verizon Wireless. At its core, this mobile is similar to the myriad touch-screen Android phones on the market: it’s a wide, tablet-slab phone with a crisp, color screen. It’s light enough at 5.4 ounces, and despite being rugged, it is not hard on the eyes.

The screen, sizing up at 3.6 inches, looks about standard. But the feel is a bit different. Specifically, the virtual keyboard on the Commando’s screen isn’t the best I’ve used. It’s a little sluggish, actually, and the keys a bit more narrow, leading to more typos than I’d like.

And the G’zOne isn’t the speediest phone around either. Apps don’t load nearly as snappily as on some other Android beasts. The Commando isn’t painfully pokey, but its velocity - or lack thereof - was noticeable right away.

Speaking of apps, it was quite apparent that Verizon wielded a heavy, meddling hand with the software prepackaged on the Commando. The phone comes loaded with bloatware, including no fewer than four VCast apps for software, video, music and more.

Meanwhile, many Google essentials - this is an Android phone, after all - are missing in action. Commando owners will have to download apps as basic as Google’s search program from the Android market, while Microsoft’s Bing app comes already installed on the home screen.

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