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Review: verykool RX 2 Rock Phone

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The verykool RX2 Rock is an Android smartphone designed to stand up to a lot of abuse and delivers on that front. It's got an IP68 rating and a tempered glass screen and claims that it can be submerged in up to 5 meters of water for an hour. It feels great in your hand and it's survived a lot of (mostly unintentional) abuse as I've used it over the last month.

It's a great choice for some people. Pros and cons are listed below.

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The RX2 Rock is an unlocked phone that you buy upfront for $397.88 (or six payments of $66.99 if can get PayPal credit). That may seem like a lot to anyone who's used to buying phones on contract, but you have to contrast that $400 price to the $750 you'd pay T-Mobile for an unlocked 6GB iPhone 6 or the $650 for an off-contract Galaxy S5.

It's also a GSM phone, which means it works on the AT&T and T-Mobile networks here in the USA and on many networks in the rest of the world. Another great feature is the Dual SIM slots. If you have relatives in another country, you can just add a second card from one of their local carrier and keep everyone's costs down. Or you can easily add a second card when you travel to another country to save on roaming charges while still being available on your usual number in case of emergency. (If anyone can find a reasonably priced international roaming plan, this phone might be a great gift for a family member stationed overseas).

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Here's the less attractive thing about buying an unlocked phone, at least if you're an AT&T customer. I took the Rock RX2 into an AT&T store with the intention of getting a cheap pay-as-you-go plan without realizing how much those plans have changed since the rise of smartphones. To get anything with a minimal amount of data, you're looking at close to $100/month and you're not really saving anything over getting a phone on contract. Fortunately, I already had an AT&T family plan and I was able to add this one to my current setup for $15/month.

T-Mobile offers a better deal: you can get unlimited talk & text with 1GB of data for $50/month and the unlimited data tier runs $80/month.

One warning (and it's kind of a big one) is that the RX2 Rock runs on the last-generation 4g HSPA+ network and not the superfast LTE that your iPhones and Samsungs now use. AT&T 4G is generally thought to be the most reliable and it was incredibly solid even if it's not incredibly fast.

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But that's not why you're buying this phone: you're looking for something that won't break and doesn't need a bulky case. The screen on this phone doesn't really compare to the current high-resolution ("retina") competition but it still works if you're wearing a pair of work gloves. The RX2 Rock is running Android's 4.2 Jellybean software, which is now a couple of generations behind, but all the usual apps (Netflix, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat) work like you'd hope.

The phone has a built-in FM radio but you won't be blown away by the reception if you're outside of a city. There's an included headset that comes with a longer than-usual-connector, so the RX2 Rock isn't going to work with standard third-party headphones. You're not going to be able to swap out for an audio upgrade, but guess what? Your phone's not going to break.

There's a 13 megapixel camera that's good by 2011 standards. There's 16GB of storage built in and you can add up to another 32GB via a flash card.

Not everyone knows or cares about having the latest and greatest technical specs on their phone. I'm sure there's a lot of people hanging on with crusty old flip phones who don't think they want a smartphone. This phone doesn't feel fragile or fancy. It's solid and workmanlike. You can take it on the trail or the hunt without worrying about drops and scrapes. If that sounds appealing (and the off-contract thing works for you), have a look at this the RX2 Rock.

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