Normally the kind of customer who buys a "rugged" phone like the Hydro VIBE isn't all that concerned with having the latest and greatest in software - or at least that seems to be the attitude of the carriers and manufacturers, who don't seem very concerned themselves. Perhaps that's why Sprint and Kyocera launched the phone with Android 4.3 back in May, despite the fact that 4.4 had already been available for seven months.
Sometimes PR people make up words they think are clever—they usually aren't. Kyocera's new "fragiphoniphobia" line is an example of this. The "fear of fragile phones" will allegedly be mitigated by the new ruggedized Kyocera Hydro Life. Whether or not you want a rugged phone, I think we can all agree that fragiphoniphobia should never appear in print again.
Update: Verizon's specification page has been changed to indicate that the LG G Vista has an "HD" screen. It looks like there was an error in the original spec list. We're going to assume that means that it's a 1280x720 screen.
Looking for a mid-range phone on Verizon? Then you've got two more choices starting today. The LG G Vista, an enormous "phablet" device, and the Kyocera Brigadier, the latest in the company's line of "tough" phones, are both on sale now at Verizon's website.
Kyocera isn't exactly a big name in modern Android smartphones, but it does make a lot of rugged devices that don't get much press. It's also big in materials science, which is where sapphire comes in. See, it seems like a safe bet that the next iPhone will have a sapphire glass display, and Kyocera happens to know a lot about manufacturing synthetic sapphire for watches and electrical components. So, they're making sapphire screens for smartphones.
Do you like the idea of water and ingress protection on the Galaxy S5, but don't feel like ponying up for a flagship phone? Then Kyocera hopes you'll consider its Hydro Vibe smartphone, at least if you're a potential Sprint or Virgin Mobile customer. The "ruggedized" Android phone will be launching on Sprint on May 9th and Virgin on May 27th. Sprint is talking up its "Easy Pay" payment plan, where the phone costs ten bucks a month for two years, but Virgin will sell it outright for $149.99.
My first two smartphones, the Milano and the Rise, were both made by Kyocera, so I have a soft spot for the brand. The company's handsets generally may not be high-end, or even midrange, but they're good for average folks who don't live and die by the number of pixels their phone is able to push or flip tables if there's a momentary stutter when switching between home screens. Kyocera's latest offering, the Hydro ELITE, will launch online at Verizon Wireless this Thursday, August 29th, and it's quite an improvement over the company's usual offerings.
Anyone looking for an affordable handset might want to take notice of the Samsung Galaxy Prevail II available today from Boost Mobile. The device comes with Android 4.1.2, a 4-inch screen, a 800 by 480 resolution, and a 1750 mAh battery. A 5MP camera is embed in the back and the typical 1.3MP camera can be found in the front. The device will set you back just $180, and it comes without a burdensome two year contract.
The ruggedized smartphone market is small, but not so small that it's ignored. Admirable entries like the Samsung Rugby Smart and the Casio Commando might not have all the bells and whistles of their flagship contemporaries, but they take a licking and keep on ticking. Phone retailer Wirefly decided to put Sprint's Kyocera Torque (Bear Grylls approved!) through its paces via some decidedly extreme tests: a drop from two stories, hibernation in a block of ice, and most dramatically, a trip through a 30-minute washing machine cycle.
While these two devices are essentially unrelated in general, today they have one thing in common: they're both getting small OTA updates.
Sprint's Kyocera Rise is getting bumped up to build 1.011sp, which brings a few enhancements and general bug fixes:
Kyocera Rise Software Update - 1.011sp
- Qchat enhancements
- Camera Gallery App crashes when attempted to edit picture
- User can not pull down status bar during a call
- Overlap when signing into Gmail™
- Bluetooth connectivity issues
On the other side of the fence is the Archos Cobalt 80, which appears to be getting its first update.