The Good AT&T’s Kyocera DuraForce features a tough and waterproof construction, push-to-talk capabilities, impressive call and audio quality, and a competitive price tag.
The Bad The handset comes with a lot of software you can’t get rid of, its camera takes bad photos, the processor is sluggish at times, and the battery runs low.
The Bottom Line Get the Kyocera DuraForce if a rugged handset is a priority; otherwise, AT&T has other handsets in the same price range with better cameras and faster internal speeds.
Like many Kyocera devices, DuraForce is designed to withstand more severe forms of abuse. With its durable and waterproof construction , the phone can survive a drop down the stairs without any too much damage, and it can be submerged underwater for up to 30 minutes and keep on ticking. It’s also competitively priced at $50 with an AT&T two-year service agreement, or $399 without, and is compatible with the carrier’s push-to-talk (PTT) service.
Unfortunately, DuraForce is not a particular “force” to be reckoned with when it comes to performance. Its 8 megapixel camera makes blurry and enjoyable photos, the processor can feel slow and its battery life is not very long.
Due to the performance and low price, you can consider DuraForce if you are familiar with the pricing and absolutely need a durable device. Otherwise you will have to pay more for phones like faster and higher (but less reliable) Samsung Galaxy S5 Active . If you’re ready to completely reset your protection and still have a budget, consider it LG G3 Vigor , first-gen Motorola Moto X or even the previous Samsung Galaxy S4 instead, the flagship.
Kyocera’s tough DuraForce doesn’t shy away from water (pictures)
A sporty industrial aesthetic, the DuraForce is lined with thick plastic and rubber. dimensions 5.39 inches high, 2.78 inches wide and 0.55 inches. Due to its durability, this device is more reliable than most phones (7.06 ounces to be exact), but it doesn’t feel heavier than, say, a regular smartphone inside a durable case like the OtterBox. In any case, don’t expect it to fit comfortably in your jeans pocket.
On the left is a volume switch and a user-friendly programmable red button that you can customize to launch any application, such as a camera, flashlight (useful for active outdoor activities), or NTT operator services. Also, there is a loop in the lower left corner to secure the lace. Above is a 3.5mm headphone jack, an audio shortcut key, and a sleep / power button. On the right are SIM card slots and microSD cards (it accepts cards up to 32GB.) Finally, at the bottom is a Micro-USB port for charging. All ports can be sealed with protective door covers and must be tightly closed if you want DuraForce to remain in operation after immersion.
The rear panel houses an 8MP flash camera lens on the right. Inside is a 3,100mAh non-removable battery. This may be inconvenient for those who like to change the battery frequently, but it means that the water has to pass less than a seam.
The 4.5-inch HD display has a resolution of 1,280×720 pixels and users can still control their work gloves. The screen is bright and the text and programs look sharp. The video plays clearly and the device is easy to watch on the street. In addition, the screen is sensitive and responsive to the touch. Below the screen are three physical hotkeys below it for your back, home, and latest accessories. (The central home button also launches Google Now with a long press.) Beneath this row of keys is a wide speaker grille that has proven itself very loud (more on that later). The unit is also equipped with kioskers Smart Sonic Receiver Technology . Already seen in previous devices such as Torque , the receiver works instead of the visible subwoofer, which is usually above the screen. This technology consists of a ceramic converter that transmits sound waves from the phone through cartilage to the user’s ear.
DuraForce is dust, shock and waterproof. It is waterproof to IPX5 and IPX8 standards, which means it can survive being a stream of water and immersed in water for up to 6 feet for 30 minutes. The device does not function underwater; you must first ensure that its ports are properly and securely sealed.
To test its strength, I dropped it several times on both the cement and wooden floors face down. It also required a few balloons and bounces down four flights of stairs. Fortunately, none of these tests cracked or damaged the handset or its screen. Parts of his plastic casing managed to pick up a few scars from the falls, but the phone was still fully functional and the display remained intact.
As for its water resistance, DuraForce continued to poke after sinking into a narrow vase for 30 minutes. During this immersion test, I also ran my own timer app to keep track of time, and the device could also register an incoming call.
In general, users who take an active lifestyle on the street or who have a spill-prone child can rest comfortably on this phone. With my testing, he was able to beat the beating, and he can certainly withstand the daily abuse inflicted by users, as well as more difficult situations.
To emphasize the outdoorsiness of the DuraForce, Kyocera loaded useful tools for those with active lifestyles. There’s a standalone compass widget, and one with shortcuts to said compass, as well as the barometer (which measures your altitude and atmospheric pressure), the flashlight, the GPS and more. You’ll also get other Kyocera staples like its battery conserver app called Eco Mode, and MagniFont, which increases the interface’s font size to a degree slightly larger than on your standard Android device. As an AT&T device, it also works with the carrier’s PTT, which is a good option for companies looking to outfit its employees with PTT-enabled phones.
Aside from the usual maintenance of basic tasks managing applications such as calculator, calendar, notepad, alarm clock, etc., the phone runs Android KitKat 4.4.2 and has a number of major Google systems. These include the Chrome browser, Drive, Gmail, Hangouts, Maps, Now, Maps, Photos and YouTube, as well as several Play Store portals, such as Books, Games, Movies & TV, Music & Newsstand.
Unfortunately, AT&T tossed in a ton of its own bloatware, too, most of which you can’t uninstall. One is DriveMode, an app that sends out customized messages to incoming calls or texts when the smartphone’s moving 25 mph or faster. FamilyMap helps locate family members on your AT&T plan, and MyAT&T lets you check your data and account info.
If your DuraForce gets stolen or lost, Mobile Locate will pinpoint its location. The news app AT&T Live is included, as well as a 7-day trial to MobileTV, which lets you stream network TV shows. The carrier has its own navigation app, a user guide, and apps to help set up the mobile hotspotting and visual voice mail. You’ll also get AT&T Smart Wi-Fi, which connects your device to publicly available Wi-Fi, a usage manager so you can look over your battery and data consumption, and 5GB of free cloud storage through AT&T Locker. Lastly, there’s an app to invite you to join the carrier’s caller ID service, and AT&T APTT, which sets up the handset’s push-to-talk capabilities.
In addition, several other third-party applications have been added. They are OfficeSuite; streaming music service, Beats Music; Amazon Kindle; DiXim home network service; a children’s hub called Famigo; game portal from WildTangent; Keeper password manager; Security protection; mobile payment system, Softcard; The Uber and Yellow Pages app.
Camera and video
The rear camera image quality was poor and disappointing compared to other Kyocera phones with 8MP shooters (like Brigadier such as better photos). The camera took photos that were blurred and out of focus; objects often had blurred outlines. The colors looked dull and muted, and every now and then the white tones had a blue tint to them. Light sources were often washed away, and the camera itself felt slow. To learn more about these photos, be sure to click them below to view them in full resolution.
The video was also wrong. Although the sound was good, the response between my camera movement and what I saw in the viewfinder was noticeably delayed. Also, the focus of the camera lasted a long time, and even then the subjects seemed fuzzy. The familiar blue tint was still present during the recordings.
Both cameras have several editing tools like digital zoom, five white balance types and four shooting modes (for example, continuous shooting and color effect, the latter of which allows users to select from 24 filters for the camera). There are also three exposure options, a brightness meter, optical image stabilization, at least four ISO levels, and a timer. The cameras have three image quality, geotagging, extra grid lines, and they can take snapshots while recording.
As expected, the rear lens, however, still has several features. These include six scenes, such as landscape and action, four more shooting modes such as HDR and panorama, four autofocus selections, contrast measurement, blink detection, time lapse, and mute. There are also eight photo resolutions (640×480 to 3 264 x 2448 pixels) and five video sizes (MMS to 1080p HD). In contrast, the front shooter has five image sizes (640×480 to 1600×1200 pixels) and can only record up to 720p HD.
Productivity: Call quality
I tested the DuraForce in our San Francisco offices using AT&T’s network. Call quality was impressive. Unlike some past experiences I had with Kyocera devices, calls didn’t sound high-pitched or crackly at all. Instead, audio was consistent and reliable, I didn’t hear any extraneous buzzing or sound and my calling partner’s voice had little to no distortion. Thanks to the dual front-facing speaker grilles, external speaker was even better. Voices, music, and video came off very loud, but even-toned and wide. As for my partner, she reported that our line sounded clear without any static or signs of muffling.
Kyocera DuraForce (AT&T) call quality sample
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Data transfer speed, processing speed and battery life
DuraForce worked with mostly 4G LTE data rates. According to Ookla’s speed test program, its average download speed was about 25.32Mbps and download speed was 9.74Mbps. In general, it took 6 and 7 seconds to download CNET mobile and desktop sites, respectively. The New York Times mobile page finished downloading in 8 seconds and its desktop version loaded in 4. The mobile site for ESPN is also displayed in 4 seconds, and 7 seconds have passed for the full webpage. Finally, downloading and installing within 31 seconds completed the download and installation of 43.70 MB of Temple Run 2. However, during my testing, there were times when web page speeds were inconsistent. For example, a website that typically takes only a few seconds to load sometimes is unusual. Otherwise, the download will stop completely and the page will not fully display.
Kyocera DuraForce (AT&T) Performance Times
|Average 4G LTE download speed||25.32Mbps|
|Average 4G LTE upload speed||9.74Mbps|
|Temple Run 2 app download (43.70MB)||31 seconds|
|CNET mobile site load||6 seconds|
|CNET desktop site load||7 seconds|
|Restart time||47 seconds|
|Camera boot time||1.99 seconds|
The device has a quad-core 1.4GHz Snapdragon 400 processor from Qualcomm. Daily and necessary tasks, such as opening the application drawer, returning to the home screen, and calling the keyboard, were easy. However, I noticed that the fast scrolling of websites is slightly behind. The results of the comparative data reflect real-world observations. The best quadrant in the phone was 9,918, which is slightly better than the first generation Motorola Moto X and the LG G3 Vigor (both scored about 8,500 points). In addition, Linpack’s best multi-threaded result was 265.199MFLOP in 0.64 seconds. And it took about 47 seconds to restart the phone and start the camera in 1.99 seconds.
Anecdotal observations of the 3.1000mAh battery were disappointing. The juice quickly depleted with medium and light consumption and did not last overnight in standby mode with an initial percentage of 50 percent. It has a waiting time of up to 21 days and a talk time of 17 hours. Our battery life test for continuous video playback took 12 hours 58 minutes. (For comparison, the Verizon foreman lasted more than 19 hours.) FCC radiation measurement , the phone has a SAR of 1.11 W / kg.
As far as rugged devices go, the DuraForce is AT&T’s least expensive option at $50 on-contract. And if you want to just make calls, send texts, and casually browse the Web with that extra peace of mind that comes with having a durable handset, Kyocera’s phone should suit you nicely.
But if you want something faster and take better photos, consider it Samsung Galaxy Rugby Pro or Galaxy S5 Active . Of course, these waterproof devices require extra dough (costing $ 100 and $ 200 as agreed), but you will certainly have an easier user experience.
Alternatively, AT&T has nonrugged smartphones that fit within the $50 price range and perform well, like the recent LG G3 Vigor and convenient Motorola Moto X (2013) . And if you’re ready to spend another $ 30, Galaxy S4 there is a significant decrease in the prices of carriers. This is mainly due to the fact that the phone is a Samsung phone sold last year, but it is still a fast and reliable device.