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A couple months ago I wrote about , but for the past week I have been checking out a solid no-contract smartphone priced at just $125 with some high end capabilities.
Some people can be very hard on their phones, especially those who work out of the office. While wandering around the shipyard I often see phones drop into the bilges, fall over the side into the water, or drop down onto the drydock. It doesn't make much sense for people working in these environments on a regular basis to carry expensive and fragile high end smartphones.
The new Kyocera Hydro Life is inexpensive while also being built to withstand the rigors of outside environments. It is IP57 rated for dust and water resistance, as well as tested to MIL-STD 810G rugged shock and drop testing.
While the Kyocera Hydro Life is built to withstand the rigors of the outside, it is not nearly as bulky as a phone in a massive protective case. It feels good in the hand, thanks in large part to the rubberized back panel that has an internal O-ring to keep the sensitive electronics safe from water.
After turning on the Hydro Life, you will see the 4.5 inch qHD (960x540 pixels) that looks quite good. The front is a crazy fingerprint magnet though and I was constantly wiping it on my shirt to keep it cleaned off. The entire front is one slab of glass with a raised edge. Back, home, and task switching capacitive buttons are at the bottom with a front facing 2 megapixel camera.
The power button and headset jack are on the top, embedded in rigid plastic. The same plastic is on the bottom around the microUSB port. There is nothing on the right side with the volume button on the upper left. A 5 megapixel camera, flash, and speaker are found near the top of the back. A removable battery and microSD card are found on the back, underneath the rubber back cover.
Specifications of the Kyocera Hydro Life include:
The Kyocera Hydro Life is not running the KitKat OS, but 4.3 Jelly Bean runs very well on it and for the hardware and price I think this is a reasonable trade-off. The great thing is that the device is a fairly pure Android experience, including a standard notification area and quick control options.
The only Kyocera influence I could find was a few widgets and apps such as a file explorer, music player, and camera software.
This model works on T-Mobile and there are a few of their apps, such as My T-Mobile, T-Mobile Name ID, T-Mobile TV, and Visual Voicemail. Thankfully, the Kyocera Hydro Life supports Wi-Fi Calling so you can get yourself a and ensure you have solid coverage.
I enjoyed using a device that I could drop, take out in the rain, and throw in my bag without worrying about it. With a full price ranging from $125 to $150, the phone was already considered disposable. However, with the rugged characteristics it may actually end up functioning longer than your expensive smartphone.
Calls sounded great on both cellular and wi-fi networks. I found the display to be perfectly fine for a device of this size. The device was snappy and responsive, even after loading up several applications.
The camera did not perform that well, but gets by for a low cost smartphone. It has been a long time since I used a Kyocera smartphone and I was pleasantly surprised by the Hydro Life. It is a great option for a no-contract, low price smartphone.