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.
If you're not in the market for an über cheap, probably contract free phone, feel free to move along. Assuming you didn't already when you saw the name 'Kyocera'. Still here? Good. Because I've got great news for you! The Kyocera Rise (no relation to the Dark Knight of the same name) is rumored to be coming to Sprint and Virgin Mobile very soon.
Twitter tipsters @evleaks, who has thus far tweeted nothing but leaked photos of devices with brief information on the devices depicted, has shared that Kyocera's contribution to the
Justice League budget smartphone world will be headed to Virgin Mobile, one of the nation's leading prepaid carriers, as well as Sprint.
Okay, so Kyocera's not really known for producing the best smartphones. And Boost Mobile is perhaps best known for mildly entertaining ads and cheap plans, compared to the big dogs. If you're not interested in having the latest and greatest, if your primary concern for network carrier is price, and if you spend a lot of time making phone calls under water, then I've got some great news for you: the Kyocera
Hail Hydro is coming to Boost Mobile for $129 (no contract) on August 3rd.
Since Kyocera was one of the only companies actually announcing something new at CTIA this year (this conference seems to get less and less relevant each year), I stopped by their booth to play around with the newborns - the waterpoof Hydro and the QWERTY Rise.
Both of these devices are definitely low- to mid-range, if you can really call a 2nd gen single-core Snapdragon mid-range anymore (no, you can't).