Casio manufactures many types of electronics: musical instruments, calculators and cameras. However, it gained the greatest popularity in the world thanks to watches. During the 'quartz revolution' of the 70s, it ousted Orient and entered the 'big three' Japanese watch companies, where it remains today. Casio's main sales force is the G-Shock series watches, which have already become almost synonymous with the phrase 'protected watches'. Hundreds of thousands of jishoks are sold around the world every year, and their appearance has become the main prototype for fakes.
Casio DW-5000C – First G-Shock Watch
It would be strange if the Japanese did not try to apply their knowledge and successful brand in related areas, and later it happened: in February 2000, the first Casio G'zOne C303CA phone was presented for the IDO DDI operator (later – KDDI). In the design of the phone were used proprietary G-Shock technologies: shock-absorbing inserts and a waterproof connection of the body parts. The display in a round frame was supposed to remind the owners of the famous watch.
This phone gave impetus to the subsequent development of waterproof devices in the Japanese market. Here the lock of the battery compartment cover and contacts for charging the phone in the cradle were used – these solutions were borrowed from portable radios.
The phone worked exclusively in the CDMA band and was locked for use in the KDDI network. That is why there was practically no worldwide interest in this device. A month earlier, Nokia presented its 6250 model with about the same protection from external factors, but the design of the gel insert in the case was suspiciously similar to that of the G-Shock watch. But it was Japanese companies that made security in the design of electronics commonplace, because they even had (and still have) protected clamshells, sliders and rotators, which other brands could not afford. Now we have witnessed how many flagships have at least protection from water, and sometimes from shock. But many years before that, this feature remained the prerogative of Japanese phones and smartphones.
Successful by Japanese standards, the model was later updated and released in October 2000 under the name C311CA .. It was distinguished by a white color and a screen with two shades of gray.
The next G'zOne C409CA was introduced in March 2001. It had a 256-color display and a web browser. The proprietary protective ring around the screen has become titanium, the overall rigidity of the structure has increased, and additional proprietary accessories have appeared.
The C452CA (August 2001) looks like 'regular' phones, although the security remains the same. The choice of colors was limited to silver and black, support for java applets appeared.
From left to right: C452CA, C409CA, C303CA, one of the early prototypes of C303CA
In April 2002, the A3012CA clamshell was presented with a color screen, a long-awaited 0.3 MP camera and GPS navigation. It was not part of the G'zOne series and was only splash proof.
In 2004, the mobile divisions of Casio and Hitachi merged into a joint company. As part of it, Casio did not stop developing G'zOne devices. Several prototypes of new models never saw the light of day
In July 2005, Casio unveiled the upcoming bestselling G'zOne TYPE-R (A5513CA), the first rugged clamshell. She bounced back over the three years the series was not on the market. Its body was protected to the maximum, but then it was not yet accepted to certify phones according to the MIL-STD-810 standard, Japanese JIS was used. There were many outdoor activities here: digital compass, GPS navigation, tide schedule and weather. The letter R stands for Racing or Revolution. The design of the phone was inspired by the fuel tank of a racing bike, and the navi button was inspired by the disc brake. Switching on the phone was accompanied by the exhaust sound Toyota of the SERUMO team sponsored by KDDI.
The internal screen with a resolution displayed 65K colors, the camera had a resolution of 1.3 MP. Java applications could be installed on 128 MB of internal memory. The phone was produced in three colors: black, black and red and black and green. The flexible 'bumper' on the flip was removable, three options were included, as well as a tabletop cradle.
Later, the model was first adapted for other markets. Korean operator LG U + introduced Casio canU 502S, and American Verizon in 2006 opened sales of Casio G'zOne TYPE-V in boring gray color and with an external antenna. The phone has been certified according to the American MIL-STD 810 standard.
The next models of the line, up to the first smartphone, continued to be produced in the clamshell form factor. Casio G'zOne W42CA and its business version E03CA got a more down-to-earth look.
The W42CA model supported microSD cards and had an infrared port, while the E03CA differed from it with an increased battery and the presence of Bluetooth. The second was a purely corporate device, it was not sold in stores.
In parallel with the Japanese G'zOne, their American 'cousins' are developing. However, they will no longer intersect with Japanese models.
The TYPE-S model supported Bluetooth, did not have an IrDA, and the camera was set at 0.3 MP.
The G'zOne BOULDER phone came out in 2008, again for Verizon. He received a 1.3 MP camera, GPS and a dedicated button for the Push-to-Talk service. It had two colors: bright orange and gray with a red screen bezel.
The next 'Japanese' G'zOne W62CA was also introduced in 2008. The rapid development of smartphones predetermined the rudiments of the 'mind' in simple clamshells. The KCP + software platform supported the installation of java applets with advanced functionality: Felica contactless payments, OneSeg television, etc. The phone was able to show the sunrise / sunset time, count steps and calories, measure temperature and air pressure and make a weather forecast based on them. He also received an infrared port, Bluetooth and a 2MP camera.
The device in the white version looked like a simple clamshell, and Casio refused from the branded “round” external display. Only the interesting acid color of the phone saved the day a little. She changed the shade from lemon yellow to light green. The updated model G'zOne CA002 received uncontested red color.
In 2009, Casio G'zOne ROCK is released in the USA. The camera received a resolution of 2 MP, and the graphs of the ebb / flow and sunrise / sunset, along with a pedometer, calorie counter, thermometer and barometer, became available to Americans. The austere black case was reminiscent of a Batman phone.
Together with him, they announce, perhaps, the most reckless model of G'zOne – BRIGADE. This is the first (and only) MIL-STD-810 rugged phone with a fold-out mechanism and a QWERTY keyboard. Perhaps he was much more suited to the role of a telephone for a superhero. Although the phone was almost no different from its peers. The screen has become larger – 2.9 inches, and the camera is more detailed – 3.2 MP. But he reached the shelves only in 2010.
At this time, all Japanese manufacturers of mobile devices are in a fever, once large brands disappear from the domestic market one after another. In June 2010, the mobile businesses of NEC and Casio-Hitachi merged. For some time, both brands coexisted, dividing the domestic market by operators: AU – Casio-Hitachi, Docomo – NEC.
The firstborn of the merged company was G'zOne TYPE-X (October 2010). He also became the last 'stupid' G'zOne in Japan, marking the 10th anniversary of the series.
In terms of design, the phone is 'back to its roots'. The round window of the external E-ink display has returned to its rightful place. The plastic bumper has moved to the bottom. The TYPE-R colors also returned.
TYPE-R and TYPE-X
C409CA, CA002 and TYPE-X
Not being a smartphone, the TYPE-X supported GPS navigation, contactless payment, and Wi-Fi. Traditionally, it was equipped with a compass, thermometer and barometer. The astronomical calendar appeared, as well as the accelerometer and gyroscope. The powerful 13 MP camera with Exilim matched the quality of shooting to many. The large, bright 3.2-inch 480854 screen made it easy to surf the web.
Sales of TYPE-X lasted exactly one year, and in January 2012 the last units of devices were sold out in the AU online store. The phone did not gain much popularity, but found its niche, even when smartphones almost conquered the market. Almost simultaneously with it, the NEC N-03C was presented, which borrowed the protected design from Casio devices. It was the first in the NEC line to be certified according to the MIL-STD 810 protection standard. The Phone Software Platform (OPP) was based on Linux but has not been further developed.
In parallel with TYPE-X, G'zOne Ravine was presented in the USA. The phone for the American market tried to look more relevant, but inside did not match the Japanese peer at all. The modest 3.2 MP camera is no match for the powerful Exilim sensor. The small 2.2-inch screen is clearly not conducive to the active consumption of multimedia. There was no Wi-Fi and the ability to install third-party applications. I'm not even talking about the lack of contactless payments.
2011 was a turning point for Casio – this year the first Android smartphones of the G'zOne line were presented: Commando for the USA, and IS11CA for Japan. In terms of hardware, they differed little: a 5MP camera for the American versus 8MP for the Japanese, and Commando also lacked an infrared port and a contactless payment system.
Both were powered by single-core Snapdragon S2 series processors: Commando on MSM7630 (800 MHz), IS11CA – MSM8655 (1 GHz). 512 MB RAM was adjacent to a 1 GB drive, a microSD slot supported cards up to 32 GB. They got their energy from a 1460 mAh battery, and a 3.6-inch IPS-screen with a resolution of 480x800p helped to spend this energy. Both smartphones were based on Android 2.3. The entire range of branded applications for outdoor activities has been moved to the G'zGEAR service.
Externally, smartphones differed more noticeably. The IS11CA had a more aggressive design, while the Commando had more rounded shapes. The Japanese smartphone has managed to get rid of the outdated 'Search' touch button.
With the light hand of marketers in the Chinese market, IS11CA began to be called NEC 909e, technically it was no different from the Casio model.
At the same time, Casio introduced the Ravine 2 for the American operator Verizon – the latest G'zOne clamshell. The phone hasn't changed much since the first Ravine. The changes affected Bluetooth (now version 3.0) and the external screen, which became transreflective. It became possible to use the phone in GSM networks, which made it possible to use the phone in other parts of the world.
The next Casio smartphone was made the same for all markets. Nuuu, or almost.
October 2012: the announcement of the G'zOne TYPE-L CAL21 smartphone for the AU KDDI operator
March 2013: Korean operator LG U + introduced the G'zOne CA-201L smartphone
June 2013: Verizon introduced its variation called G'zOne Commando 4G LTE
The Korean and American versions were identical, but the Japanese relative was slightly different. First of all, 8 GB of storage (versus 16 GB for the rest), as well as support for Felica (for the rest – NFC). Externally, the devices were also different, but not as much as the previous generation. For foreign models, the Japanese have retained the anachronism in the form of a fourth touch button: now it is not a 'search', but a 'menu'.
The 'relative' of these devices was NEC Medias U N-02E for Docomo. The device completely repeated the TYPE-L CAL21 in technical terms. The exterior of the NEC smartphone was less aggressive, and the touch buttons were replaced with physical ones. A little later, this phone will appear in a limited version for fans of the One Piece universe.
Последним экспериментом объединенной компании стал защищенный qwerty-моноблок NEC Terrain для американского оператора AT&T. It was introduced in June 2013 and was no longer part of the Casio G'zOne line. He did not gain much popularity in the market.
The history of G'zOne ended on July 31, 2013, when it was announced that the development of Casio mobile phones was terminated, and NEC bought out shares from the rest of the combined company. The new division was named NEC Mobile, later it will sell a package of patents to the company Lenovo, and in 2016 it will be liquidated.
The operator AU by KDDI is one of the businesses of the Kyocera corporation, so with the departure of Casio, they had to look for a replacement for the vacant niche. Some developments still remained in Japan, and, having lured away the remaining engineers, Kyocera began to produce its own rugged devices. Partly original, partly borrowed from Casio design solutions allow the company's current models to remain one of the most secure devices on the consumer market to this day. Kyocera smartphones of the Brigadier, Duraforce and Torque series, Dura line 'dummies' and others have successfully taken Casio's place in many markets, including the American one.
Kyocera TORQUE G04 smartphone review
Review Android – Kyocera TORQUE X01 clamshells Kyocera 'SUVs' Comparison: Duraforce Pro vs Torque G02
The lack of worldwide fame of Japanese phones for the domestic market has led to the fact that many have not even heard of Casio phones. At the same time, solutions first used by the engineers of this Japanese company can still be found in modern phones. Everything new is well forgotten old, as they say.
Top left to right: TYPE-V, TYPE-S, Boulder, ROCK, Ravine
Bottom left to right: C303CA (first for IDO DDI, second for AU KDDI), C409CA, TYPE-R, W42CA, W62CA, CA002
Have you heard anything about these devices? Would you like such devices to be on sale now on store shelves? Which one would you prefer? Come in the comments – let's talk!