Smartphones have ended up in rivers, lakes and yes, toilets. Built to survive these kinds of accidents, the Kyocera Hydro from Boost Mobile can tolerate submersion in up to 3 feet of water. Some aspects and features get mixed reviews, but overall, experts are satisfied with this basic yet reliable device. Nevertheless, as Engadget.com reviewer Zachary Lutz points out, the Hydro is "hum-drum in the specs department." Only a couple of unique advantages prevent it from being a mediocre phone.
Slippery plastic casing and an overly sensitive screen. The black plastic shell is textured but slippery when wet, not a good thing for its design. Lynn La enjoyed being able to hold the phone between her "cheek and shoulder while talking," but had a problem with the power button built flush into the case, "which made it difficult at times to locate by touch." The user interface is straightforward and responsive, and controls for the phone, camera and music player are basic and simple to operate. La likes being able to use the touch screen with one hand, but PC World's Michael Homnick says it's so sensitive he more than once inadvertently cut the phone off while talking.
Ice Cream Sandwich OS is great, but . . . One of the best things about the Hydro is that it ships with Android's well-liked 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system. Countering this somewhat is its somewhat outdated single-core 1 GHz Snapdragon processor and 512 MB of RAM. It accepted one expert's 64 GB microSD card with no problem, but ships with a meager 2 GB card. Most are impressed with call quality but not with Sprint's 3G network. The speaker is not loud enough for noisy places. The Hydro comes with some apps pre-loaded, including an energy-saving app, but not too much bloatware. What apps it does have are unique and useful. Rated battery life is 8.4 hours, but based on expert testing, expect less.
Great water protection, but not completely rugged. The Hydro's claim to fame is its ability to withstand immersion up to 1 meter in water, but this unusual benefit is qualified. It cannot tolerate water warmer than 104 degrees, nor salt or chlorinated water. Alex Colon, a reviewer for PCMag.com, says that even though the Hydro "might be waterproof, it's not rugged." Experts remind users to be sure to tightly close the rubber cover protecting the microUSB port. The 3.5 mm headphone jack is waterproof, and the combination battery cover and microSD slot seals so tight it takes a coin to remove the cover.
Nothing special to look at. Daniel Howley of Laptop Magazine says the Hydro has "the kind of tough-guy look you'd expect of a durable smartphone." Homnick cautions its "design is by no means slick," and for Colon, it is a "generic looking slab made entirely of textured, shiny black plastic." One reviewer thinks it a bit too heavy, while another finds its profile too thick. Even though the 3.5-inch display is bright, at a resolution of only 320 by 480 pixels, it is hardly crisp.
Just the basics. Experts are disappointed in the 3.2-megapixel camera, reporting poor performance with both still and video recording and viewing. The device's multimedia controls are basic. It plays music well, but Homnick says the music app is a bit "laggy." Experts appreciate the minimal pre-loaded bloatware.
1. PC World
PC World reviewer Michael Homnick says the Hydro is "worth a look for the accident-prone." He is especially impressed with the waterproofing. For those who aren't looking for a media phone and can tolerate "the sometimes laggy performance…the Hydro makes a strong case for itself."
Review: Kyocera Hydro Review: Decent Specs with Impressive Waterproofing, Michael Homnick, Aug. 27, 2012
CNET's Lynn La likes that the Hydro ships with Android 4.0. Ranking it 3.5 or Very Good, she believes it's "a great prepaid device" because of its power-saving eco mode, waterproofing and "solid call quality." She likes the "chic-looking UI…ability to reject calls with a text, camera access from the lock menu and much more."
Review: Kyocera Hydro Review (Boost Mobile), Lynn La, Aug. 21, 2012
You can take the Hydro into the shower, "but don't expect high-end performance," cautions PCMag.com's Alex Colon. He appreciates the unembellished Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, call quality and waterproofing, but, like other reviewers, says the "the best reason to get a phone on Boost is to tap into the carrier's inexpensive pricing plans."
Review: Kyocera Hydro (Boost Mobile), Alex Colon, Aug. 16, 2012
4. Laptop Magazine
Daniel Howley of Laptop Magazine warns that with the Kyocera Hydro, "If you're looking for a durable smartphone that offers 4G data speeds, you're barking up the wrong tree." Still, he likes the waterproof build and Boost's flexible plan options, concluding that "if you're looking for a phone that can take more than a splash…the Hydro may just float your boat."
Review: Kyocera Hydro ( Boost Mobile) Review, Daniel Howley, Sept. 4, 2012
Admitting that the Hydro "doesn't blaze any new trails," Engadget.com reviewer Zachary Lutz says in his early hands-on video review that it nevertheless could be "suitable for those on a budget who'd like a phone that can handle life's accidents."
Review: Kyocera Hydro Hands-on (Video), Zachary Lutz, May 8, 2012