Casio, marketing the line as G’zOne, has been at this for a dozen years now, offering ruggedized basic phones with such butch model names as Boulder, Rock, Brigade and Commando. Following the logical track that there are a lot of folks around the world that need more durable communication devices, Casio has been (consistent with it’s other semi-indestructible products, ie G-Shock) the go-to company for tough military spec phones. And, although quite capable of fulfilling most of their owner’s basic needs, such as GPS, texting, camera, the G’zOne products have lacked, for the last three plus years, the pizzazz that smart phones offer.
Now that is about to change..
In the pipe-line, Casio has a new series ready to launch that offers it all. Announced a few days ago, the G’zOne Type-L phones, initially available in red and black colorways, are going to roll out in Japan on November 2, 2012 and are expected to be available in the USA next year. With the benefit of Casio’s signature durability technologies and the popular phone-feature rich Android 4.0, this blog believes Casio is now about to become a major player in the cellular phone industry. And, of course, in the USA, this watch is the missing link in Casio’s master marketing plan to slip Bluetooth 4.0 enabled G-Shock smart watches into the accessory display cases of 2200 Verizon stores across the country.
The Gripe Sidebar..
But you don’t care about all that. And, you’re sick of reading the New York Times – Wall Street Journal- Hypebeast – BGR version of what you know is a lot of noise when all you really want is a cool phone that works with all your other stuff. And you know that these expectations are not unreasonable because they all told you that these features are right here, right now – and for cheap. Android is the promise, Apple is the carrot on a stick, Samsung GS III was and is the first live temptation, Sony almost has it, and all the other phones rolling out this fall are the confusion. We’re so close, yet so far – you feel like all you have to do is put up with your old phone for an extra few months and the wait will prove to be worthwhile – all the pieces will finally fit in this great puzzle. Oh, if only..
First There Was An Android..
The Commando, released some time ago is a mature, strong performer as a smart phone and, still so far, sets the high-water mark for durability (MIL-STD-810G), but is decidedly less competitive in the “flashy features” department with it’s older Android (2.2.1/2.3 Gingerbread) operating system and Bluetooth (v2.1) connectivity, slower (800MHz) processor, screen resolution (480 x 800), and single 5mp camera. Then again, at $99 under two-year contract at Verizon, it represents a good value, especially considering that this is one bug-free phone that will last the full term regardless of the amount of physical abuse it may receive.
So now we have the Type-L coming (eventually) our way – a “go anywhere – survive anything” ultimate high-tech beater phone. If you’re an X-Games or Red Bull sports fan, you’ll see the ads – phones duct-taped to surfboards, left on mountain bike trails, dropped, dunked, frozen, thrown – you name it, every kind excessive abuse that can be wrought by young extreme sporting celebs.*
Here are the Type-L’s features as indicated in the Japanese press release:
Operating system: Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
Processor: Qualcom Snapdragon (MSM8960) 1.5Gz dual-core
Display: screen size 4″ WVGA, touch LCD with high-intensity back-light
Connectivity: 4G-LTE (Verizon), Bluetooth 4.0 (G-Shock smartwatch compatible), Wi-Fi IEEE802.11a/b/g/n(2.4GHz/5GHz), MicroUSB, and OneSeg. Missing: NFC
Cameras (dual): 8M rear – HD movie (1920 x 1080, 16fps), 1.4M front
Durability: Gorilla Glass II, dust-proof, waterproof, shock resistant to MIL-STD-810G-516.6
Special features: thermometer, pressure sensing (barometer), large-loud speaker, pedometer, compass, Mobile WIFI router-tethering support and PC linking, Google certified.
The inclusion of Bluetooth v4.0 is a huge plus and the exclusion of NFC is a huge negative. While both connectivity schemes are not yet standard, they are both a big part of the coming gadget to gadget compatibility that we so much want.
Jeff Blagdon, reporting for The Verge from the floor of the au KDDI show with a red Type-L in hand gives us his take on this new phone. You can cneck out the video by clicking here.
Casio’s “important notes” remind us that the unbustable brawn inherent in the G’zOne products is to protect against incidental mishaps. and warns that deliberate abusive treatment such as leaving it stored in water, attempting to use it as an underwater walky-talky, or boiling the phone could prove to be more than it can handle. I look forward to the YouTube torture-test videos that are bound to come. How long can this phone hold together on a paint mixer; how tall a building can it be dropped from; can this phone fill in for the pigskin in a football game or (like it’s distant cousin, the DW5600) replace a hockey puck in a professional ice skating rink?