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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.

Performance

The 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S2 MSM8655 single-core processor in the Hydro worked well-enough for navigating around the phone's menus and home screen, but it lagged a bit when exiting the camera app and while browsing the Web. I had to force-quit out of the browser multiple times while trying to stream videos from YouTube. Other sites didn't cause the browser to freeze, but most lagged more than usual on my 3G data connection. Using the FCC-approved Ookla Speed Test app, I recorded an average download speed of 894 kilobits per second, and an average upload speed of 816 kbps.

Call quality over Boost Mobile's network was good, even when the Hydro was immersed in water. The screen seemed to be overly sensitive to movement during calls, however, and was constantly turning on and off as I talked. I inadvertently pressed the mute button multiple times with my face, which didn't make for smooth conversations.

The Hydro has a 1500mAh battery that promises up to 8.4 hours of battery life, and Eco Mode software included with the phone permits easy access to energy settings for customization. With display brightness set to auto, the battery performed as advertised for me, showing 65 percent battery life remaining after about 4 hours of testing.

Software

The Hydro ships with Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), a nice performance bonus. The OS ran smoothly, and scrolling and swiping was generally very responsive. The phone comes with Google's suite of apps (Gmail, Google+, Play Music, and so on), plus a handful of applications from Boost Mobile such as BoostZone (for managing your Boost Mobile account) and TeleNav GPS Navigation.

Entertainment

Music sounded good on the Hydro with headphones, but I found the Play Music app to be extremely laggy when starting up and selecting songs. The songs themselves sounded muffled on the phone's speaker, and music was too quiet to be enjoyed in any sort of environment with external noise. You'll get 2GB of internal storage to go along with an included 2GB MicroSD card, so if you're hoping to keep your music library with you, plan on investing in a larger card.

Videos streamed from the Internet looked dull and pixelated on the Hydro's low-resolution screen, even in HD. Coupled with the device's lackluster streaming speeds, this made for a less-than-enjoyable video viewing experience.

Camera

You can quickly access the Hydro's 3.2-megapixel camera with a swipe from the lock screen. The camera app gives you basic control over your photos, letting you adjust the type of scene you're shooting and the white balance. Photos I took using the Hydro tended to be fuzzy, and ones I took in low light looked grainy.

 

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