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.
The Kyocera Hydro Elite may not be a top-of-the-line device, but it comes with something most phones don't - water resistance. It also packs 4.3-inch display and a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, making it an admirable midrange handset. Now Verizon is distributing the first OTA for the phone, and while the Android version number remains the same, this update impacts many areas of the device.
The touch screen's sensitivity has been adjusted, including the virtual keyboard, and the call screen now stays lit for over 15 seconds when active.
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.
If you bought into the ruggedized LTE device hype and picked up a Kyocera Torque on Sprint, then good news is afoot: your little tank is getting its taste of Jelly Bean beginning in just three days' time. According to Sprint's update blog, the Torque should begin receiving an update on July 5th that not only brings Android 4.1.2 to the rough-and-tough handset, but also international calling, the ability to "power cycle," email sync fixes, and enhancements to sleep mode.
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.
Sprint this morning announced plans to offer a new ultra-rugged Kyocera smartphone with Direct Connect "this spring." The device – dubbed Torque – offers the standard features expected from a ruggedized phone, including water resistance, dust prevention, and drop protection. That means you'll be able to drop it in the toilet, use it during a sandstorm, or throw it out of frustration without fear of shattering it into pieces.
If you want specifics, the Torque can be submerged in meter-deep water for up to 30 minutes, handle temperatures from –22 to 140 degrees for three hours, stay safe from "heavy dust" for up to six hours, and be dropped more than 20 times from a height of four feet.
Sprint has finally announced what we'd heard almost a month ago. The Kyocera Rise, the budget smartphone best known for making my movie references easy, is heading to the Now Network on August 19th. The device will cost $19.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate. So if you want the internal specs of the original Evo in a QWERTY slider from the company that you probably didn't know also makes cutlery, it will run you $70 out the door.