Friday, October 12, 2012

Kyocera Hydro Review

Most smartphones are sensitive, touchy pieces of electronics. A run through the the washing machine, a drop in the sink, or a water bottle spill could kill your expensive device. That is, unless your phone is waterproof (or you are very, very, very lucky)! Today, we’ll look at an inexpensive, no-contract waterproof smartphone from Boost.

Design and Hardware
Let’s take a look at the Hydro’s design. A waterproof headphone jack and a microUSB with a waterproof cover are on the top of the device. On the left, you will find a power button and a volume rocker. A 3.2 MP camera and flash are on the back.

Of course, you’ll be spending most of your time looking at the front of the Hydro. The Hydro’s screen is a HVGA IPS LCD. Basically, all that gibberish translates to “a screen of average quality.” This 3.5 in screen has a resolution of 480 X 320. It isn't the sharpest or most beautiful screen to be had, but it isn't inadequate, either. I’ll take the fact that you’re interested in a $130 pre-paid smartphone as a sign that you don’t mind mid-range specs in your next cell phone.

Hydro’s most unique feature, in my opinion, is its ability to withstand water. While small amounts of water can be damaging to the average smartphone, the Hydro is immune to water- in most situations. For instance, rain or immersion in up to three feet of water for up to 30 minutes won’t hurt your Hydro. You will want to avoid hot water and other liquids other than fresh water. (No coffee, saltwater, etc.) Be sure that the battery cover is locked and the Micro USB port cover is snapped on!

Software and Performance
The Hydro runs a recent version of Android, 4.0. There are very few manufacturer/carrier customizations. There are also just a handful of preinstalled apps. The most notable apps are:

  • BoostZone lets you monitor your Boost account balance, among other things.
  • Eco Mode supposedly reduces battery consumption, although I didn't notice a prominent difference with the mode on or off. It automatically turns on when the battery dips below 20%.
  • Mobile ID lets you download themes, apps, and ringtones.

Now, let’s talk performance. The 1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon single-core processor doesn't set any world data-processing records, but it gets the job done. Opening and closing apps can be a little laggy, but otherwise it performed reasonably well.

The Hydro runs on Sprint’s 3G network. Unfortunately, it is very spotty in our area. I haven’t been able to test the network speed on this device.

Outdoor photos taken with the Hydro will work fine for online sharing. Colors and exposure are fine in outdoor light. But in artificial light, it seems that colors get muddy and general quality deteriorates. The lack of detail, caused by the 3.2 MP camera, isn't ideal. (Most smartphones have at least five MP, if not eight.) If the Hydro’s camera had a few more megapixels, it would be useful in more situations.

Call Quality
Since our area has poor Sprint reception, I did not make many calls. With the brief time I’ve spent gabbing on the Hydro, call quality was good.

Battery Life
In my day to day usage of the Hydro, I used these apps: streaming music from Amazon Cloud Player, checking e-mail, reading tweets, and browsing the internet a little. I would consider this medium usage. With medium to light usage, you’ll have a very comfortable margin of battery life left over at the end of the day.

All in all, the Kyocera Hydro from Boost Mobile is a good value. It provides a recent, clean version of Android, waterproofing, and plenty of battery life. While its speediness didn't blow me away, it is a perfectly acceptable phone for most users.

Product Info

MSRP:$130 from Boost Wireless
    Stock Android 4.0, waterproof, abundant battery life, good call quality, inexpensive 
  • Middling processor, only 3.2 MP camera

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