For consumers wanting a quality-built, inexpensive, no-frills, basic smarts smartphone and a measure of waterproofness, Kyocera Hydro Edge for Sprint and Boost Mobile is worth a hard look.


If you or someone near and dear has ruined one or more phones in the rain, a pool or, egad, a toilet, here’s a worthy replacement, so long as the user needs only basic smarts in a phone. Certified dustproof and waterproof for IP55 and IP57, Hydro Edge meets the requirements of IP5X for dust intrusion, IPX5 for low-pressure water spray and IPX7 for water immersion; immerse it for up to 30 minutes in up to 3.28ft (1 meter) of water. While immersed, the phone is inoperable.

Bear in mind that the user is responsible for the integrity of the battery door on the back of the phone for its waterproofness. Not a big deal, unless that door is not secured. No problems were detected during testing. The sample survived!

In the no-frills department, there is a nothing-special rear-facing 5-megapixel camera and NO front-facing camera. Forget Skype, for example.

The WVGA display is specified with “only” 800 x 480 pixels, a far cry from super sharp, high resolution displays on fancier smartphones. Most simple users will not notice nor care.

An Android phone with Jelly Bean 4.1, it’s not the latest and greatest Google Android operating system, nor is its relatively poky 1.0 GHz dual-core processor going to win any speed contests. Users may manually upgrade Android to the newest version, 4.4 (KitKat), according to a Sprint representative with whom I spoke.

As a 3G not 4G or LTE phone, it’s not going to satisfy need-for-speed users who want to transfer info as quickly as possible and see the screen POP with activity, but for the rest of us, speed while on the carrier’s data network is acceptable. Connected via WiFi, the handset supports b/g/n speeds, so there is nothing in the phone to slow down this connectivity, which will likely exceed data performance over the carrier’s network. It’s capable of being a WiFi hotspot supporting up to five devices.

With just 1GB of internal storage, users with great expectations will run out of space quickly as most of that bucket is already spoken for by the phone’s out-of-the-box needs. Fortunately, there is a microSD slot under the battery door ready to accept the user’s own memory card up to 32GB.

Talk time is pegged at up to 13 hours, with specs calling for up to 7.5 days of standby power. As these figures and those for any phone on a CDMA network (Sprint and Verizon, in this instance) are best case-based, actual times will be less, lots less. In testing scenarios using a phone of this type on Sprint has killed a battery charge in as little as 2.5 hours, while non-stop surfing the Web and streaming videos. In common use, don’t be as concerned with talk time if the phone is not going to be mostly for online entertainment.

Regardless of the phone chosen and the network technology, assess personal usage once the phone is in hand. If typical usage drains a battery in less than a day, be smart. Get additional contiguous chargers with built-in MicroUSB wire or chargers with USB out plus separate USB to MicroUSB cables and strategically plug in where they will be most needed – in the car, at the work desk, at bedside, near the TV-viewing area and anywhere else likely to be a good spot. It is also recommended to purchase a rechargeable Lithium battery-powered external charger to avoid a dead phone battery when uninterrupted phone service is essential for the longest day’s use when plugging in as above is not convenient.

A 110-volt, wall-powered works-only-with-US-voltage MicroUSB charger can easily be found online for as little as $.99, with free US shipping. Similar chargers compatible with world voltages start at about $4. Rechargeable external Lithium batteries of 2800mAh capacity, more than enough to fully recharge the Hydro Edge’s standard 1600mAh battery while on the go will cost about $16.

Something Kyocera calls Smart Sonic Receiver, a bone conduction technology that is purported to allow users to hear more clearly in noisy environments, did not yield anything perceptively new and better in this evaluation. It was still somewhat tough to hear in traditionally noisy settings. Further testing of Smart Sonic Receiver technology on this and Kyocera’s Hydro Elite smartphone yielded positive results, FINALLY. With total mental  focus of attention toward the feature and with an iPhone in hand (that does not have the technology), this tester experienced success when in a particularly loud environment. That is where THIS phone was able to cut through the background cacophony and be heard, while iPhone could not be used nearly as well. Callers on the receiving end of the sound heard with almost equal poor quality due to background noise. Apologies to readers for the confusion on this end.

Kyocera handsets have been a personal brand favorite for many years, proving to be of high quality combined with lasting value. That it is a lesser-known brand representing value to the consumer is a BIG plus not to be overlooked.

Hydro Edge is ruggedized without looking the part. Its impact-resistant 4-inch touchscreen created from Dragontail glass should [hopefully] prevent what otherwise could be easily scratched or smashed front glass seen on so many phones today. The case’s ruggedness, its seal against water and the glass make this a compelling handset for many users.

Hands-on use revealed this smartphone to be more than good enough for users who neither want nor need more, and who appreciate its waterproof and dustproof capabilities. With its high quality build and at costs ranging from free with a two-year contract to $150 without a contract, Kyocera Hydro Edge could be a perfect choice.

As with ANY phone purchase, first choose a carrier with good coverage where the phone is likely to be used, and then select the phone. If Sprint or its subsidiary Boost Mobile is a good choice for the user in mind, Kyocera Hydro Edge should not disappoint.

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