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Kyocera Hydro review: Decent specs with impressive waterproofing

Michael Homnick | Aug. 29, 2012
If your phone has ever taken an unplanned dip in a nearby body of water, you're probably familiar with the bag of dry rice and the nervous prayers to the phone gods that typically ensue.

If your phone has ever taken an unplanned dip in a nearby body of water, you're probably familiar with the bag of dry rice and the nervous prayers to the phone gods that typically ensue. Waterproofing may not be the first thing people look for in a smartphone, if you're especially accident-prone or work around water, a ruggedized phone might be worth a look. The $130 (as of August 22, 2012) Kyocera Hydro on Boost Mobile won't turn any heads with its performance or its display, but its waterproofing is impressive, and the fact that it runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is a nice bonus.

Design

The Hydro weighs 4.16 ounces, and feels noticeably lighter than many rival smartphones thanks to its mostly plastic body. Still, the phone is a bit bulky, and the design is by no means sleek.

You'll need a coin to unlock the back cover and gain access to the battery, which you have to remove to get to the MicroSD card slot. Aside from the MicroSD card slot, the only ports you'll find on the Hydro are a MicroUSB and a 3.5mm headphone jack, located on the top right and top left of the phone, respectively. The volume rocker sits on the Hydro's left spine, and a power button is on the right spine. The face of the phone features a 3.5-inch display that is adequate at best. Text looked crisp for the most part, but images and videos were unimpressive on the low resolution 320-by-480-pixel display. Compared to most other smartphone screens, the Hydro's is unattractive.

Waterproofing

Kyocera claims that the Hydro is waterproof in up to 1 meter of water for 30 minutes, and it passed my water-exposure tests with flying colors. The phone features a water-tight cap for its MicroUSB port (just make sure it's closed tight), and the 3.5mm headphone jack is waterproof.

If you've ever felt the urge to use your phone while you shower, the Hydro is a good match: I checked my email and browsed the Web, all while enjoying a nice soak. The phone's touchscreen can become unresponsive if it has a lot of water on it, but a quick wipe down should get things working smoothly once more. Water naturally beads off the water-resistant screen so this is rarely an issue, unless the phone is situated directly under a stream of water or you've taken it with you underwater.

The Hydro also easily handled a "tumble" into my sink (with the faucet running), and a prolonged dip in a glass of water. It's pretty clear that this smartphone can withstand more than just a few droplets of water.

 

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