Casio Exilim C721 Review

Introduction and Design

High-end camera phones might be the norm in Europe and Asia, but the U.S. market has been slow to release many models.  Verizon has had two previous so-called units, the Samsung A990 and FlipShot U900, but they were limited to only 3.2MP and image quality wasn’t too superb.  Verizon now hopes to change that with the introduction of the Casio Exilim C721, which combines a 5MP autofocus camera with 3x optical zoom and the same Military ruggedness that is found on the Boulder.  Despite these specs, the Exilim is up against tough competition from the 5MP Samsung Omnia and 3.2MP LG enV Touch.  Regardless of how good the camera is, the device still needs to offer good call quality, reception, and other useful features.  Let’s take a look and see how well the Casio Exilim does.

Included in the retail box is the Exilim C721 phone, 920mAh battery, wall charger, desktop cradle, USB cable, 2.5mm headset adapter, hand strap, digital photo CD, and user manual.


The design of the Exilim is reminiscent of the Samsung A990 and FlipShot, as all three utilize the clamshell form factor with 180 degree rotating display.  The device is constructed out of plastic, has the same durable qualities of the Boulder, and is roughly the same size as the Alias 2.  It feels comfortable in the hand and isn’t too noticeable when placed in your pant’s pocket, but there is a hard plastic protrusion right next to the camera that can be felt.

You can compare the Casio Exilim C721 with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

The front of the Casio Exilim C721 is very minimalistic with shiny black plastic and looks like the monolith from the movie 2001.  There is a small 0.7” 96x32 pixel PMOLED display located in the center, which is only large enough for time, signal strength, and battery level.  It will also show the number or name of an incoming call, as well as the track name when playing music, but the text is quite small.  We’re not sure why such a small external display was used, and would rather of had a larger OLED display like the one found on the Nokia Intrigue, or a color TFT display like the Chocolate 3 or V9m.

Located on the left side of the device is a microSDHC card slot that accepts up to 8GB memory cards and a 5-pin connector that is used with the desktop cradle.  On the right side is camera/music control buttons, status LED, and charging port.  The 5MP camera and flash is located on the back, and there is an unlock button on the bottom to release the watertight battery cover.

Opening up the phone requires both hands, as the hinge has two stop locations and produces a noticeable “click” sound at each.  The internal display was rumored to be WVGA, but is in fact 2.3” 240x320 pixel QVGA with 65K color support.  It is slightly larger than the Chocolate 3 and V9m, but not nearly as big as the Alias 2 or enV Touch.  Despite its modest size and resolution, images look good when used as the camera’s viewfinder or when playing them back with the Slideshow feature.  The d-pad and numeric keypad have a white backlight and is similar in size to the Chocolate 3.  The buttons are large and easy to use for dialing and text messaging and provide good feedback when pressed.

The desktop cradle allows you to place the phone in it, with the wall charger and USB cable connected.  This could be a convenient way for you to charge the battery and connect it to your PC, but if the phone had a standard microUSB port (instead of a proprietary port), the cradle would not be necessary.  You can also charge the battery by plugging the wall charger directly into the phone, bypassing the desktop cradle.

Since the Casio Exilim C721 and Boulder are both manufactured by Casio, they share similar Military specifications.  In fact, the Exilim is said to have passed 8 tests, including water, immersion, humidity, salt fog, drop, vibration, dust, and solar radiation.  We placed the Exilim in a sink full of water for 30 minutes and the phone could still be used, including the ability to take pictures.  We also dropped it several times on kitchen tile from a height of 5 feet and there was no physical damage to the device.  For those people who need a rugged phone, the Exilim is hard to pass up.

Casio Exilim C721 360 Degrees View:

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