Kyocera Hydro Vibe review: Water-resistance keep this phone from being all wet
At a Glance
Kyocera Hydro Vibe
The Kyocera Hydro Vibe isn’t the best choice for a midrange phone. But it is waterproof, unlike many rivals, and its long-lasting battery life will appeal to some users.
Though it shoots for the mid-range of the smartphone market, the Kyocera Hydro Vibe boasts some premium elements to it—it’s waterproof and shoots 1080p video. But it also falls short where phones in its class can't afford to.
The Kyocera Hydro Vibe is a bit smaller than rival phones, about the size of the Moto X. It sports a simple black-and-gray design with a grippy plastic backing and a removable 2,000 mAh battery pack. Its 4.5-inch LCD display is bright and fairly usable outdoors, but it's not a high-resolution display. Its viewing angles are passable, but not perfect, and the colors appear a bit faded on some applications.
You needn't fear a dip in the water with the Hydro Vibe; it can withstand up to 3.28 feet of water for up to 30 minutes as long as the back of the phone is tightly secured. Unlike many other waterproof phones, the Hydro Vibe doesn't have any annoying flaps you have to deal with. You can't use it while it's dunked, however, which is the only time that the physical camera button actually comes in handy.
Inside, the Kyocera Hydro Vibe is powered by a quad-core, 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 processor and 1.5GB of RAM, putting it on par with phones like the Motorola Moto G, HTC One mini, and Samsung Galaxy S4 mini. Android 4.4 KitKat may require fewer resources than previous versions of the OS, but I question whether the Hydro Vibe will last to the next version since its interface lags as you pan through screens. It's also still on Jelly Bean, which likely contributes to some of the lag, but it’s just jerky enough that you can tell it’s struggling to keep up.
The best feature of the Hydro Vibe is its long-lasting battery life. It lasted for five days on standby with Airplane Mode on, and managed a bit more than 8 hours in our video playback test.
The Kyocera Hydro Vibe's camera capabilities are about average, which makes it good enough for posting photos to social media. Its 8-megapixel camera lens takes better photos than the Moto X’s 10-megapixel camera, but its focus time and shutter speed are painstakingly slow. Even the panorama feature is difficult to use; the slightest shake will blur the end result.
In a perfect world, every manufacturer making a low-end or mid-range handset would stick with stock Android and add a few of its own little apps here and there. Kyocera not only stuck with its own custom interface, it pasted it on top of the aging Android 4.3
The bottom line
The Kyocera Hydro Vibe wouldn’t be my first choice for a mid-range handset. I’d much rather go for the phablet-sized ZTE Boost Max. That said, Kyocera's phone is waterproof, which not many low-end or mid-range phones are, and its long-lasting battery life would be great for the Bear Grylls-types who are always out hiking and don't care too much for a high-end phone.
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