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Kyocera DuraForce PRO with Sapphire Shield Review

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Kyocera DuraForce PRO with Sapphire Shield Review

James Shisiah

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What We Love

  • Incredibly bright full high definition display
  • Wireless charging
  • Military grade 810G certified shockproof
  • IP68 certified dust/waterproof
  • NFC
  • Dual lens camera

Overview

Kyocera DuraForce Pro is a military grade 810G certified shockproof smartphone. It is not only shockproof but also IP68 certified dust/waterproof. This means it will not only survive accidental bumps with hard surfaces, but also work just fine under 1.5 meters of water. It was launched in October 2016 as an upgrade to its earlier sibling, the original Kyocera DuraForce. The phone features a full HD 5.0-inch display, dual lens 13MP camera, a powerful octa-core processor, 3GB RAM, and 32GB of internal storage. As we will note in this review, the Kyocera DuraForce Pro balances durability and performance. It packs more features than you would expect to find on a typical rugged smartphone. Such features include wireless charging, NFC, fingerprint sensor, and a wide-angle camera lens. Let’s dive into the full review.

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Unboxing

The Kyocera DuraForce Pro is available from Sprint Wireless and from Verizon as a Prepaid or a Postpaid gadget. We are currently using the version from Sprint Wireless. The outside of the box is quite plain, with just the phone’s image, name and Sprint’s logo. Opening the box, we meet the DuraForce Pro securely in the center. Other items in the box include service guide, wall adapter charger, standard USB cable, and the quick startup guide.

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Design

When you get hold of the Kyocera DuraForce Pro you will notice the rugged features right away. It is available in black color and weighs a little over 8 oz; certainly not that heavy to weigh down your pocket. The body is made of strengthened plastic with a sapphire shield screen.

It has a removable back cover to reveal the battery compartment as well as give you access to the SIM/microSD slots, situated just under the right edge. Even though the back cover can come off, note that the battery is inbuilt. To the back, we have the charging contacts that work with a dock mount. The upper part of the back hosts the dual lens camera vertically placed, and their LED flash to their right. The back cover has ridges to ensure a steady grip and prevent the device from easily slipping out of your hand.

The physical buttons and ruggedness is highly pronounced around the gadget’s frame. To the left edge, we have the volume rockers, PPT/programmable key. The right edge hosts the power key which doubles up as the fingerprint scanner and the camera key. The top edge has the speaker button and headset jack. The speaker button helps turn on or off the speaker with one press of a button. To maintain the waterproof capability, the headphone jack has a slip-cover which you should always remember to put it back when you are not listening through your headsets. The bottom edge has the charger/USB port and your primary microphone. The USB port also has the port cover to maintain the dust/waterproof capabilities.

The front panel hosts more rugged features. While normal smartphones running Android 6.0 Marshmallow have software inbuilt navigation keys, the Kyocera DuraForce Pro has physical navigation keys. This is nice because it fits the purpose it was meant for. It makes it possible to navigate the phone while wearing hand gloves. The physical navigation buttons appear just under the screen; the back key to the left, home key in the middle, and the recent apps key to the right. Just below the navigation keys, we have front firing speakers. Dual front speakers are nice because they broadcast the sound towards you when you are using the device, or when you have it placed on a table beside you. The sound quality is quite good and can easily fill up a small room. That sums up our walk around the Kyocera DuraForce Pro exterior design.

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Display

One thing that certainly impressed us is the full high definition display fitted on the Kyocera DuraForce Pro. It is a 5-inch IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen with a resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels. This brings our pixel density to 441 PPI, which is an exact match as the pixel density on the Google Pixel 2. The display is not only crisp, but also highly durable. It’s not every day you get these two necessary features on one smartphone. The crispness comes in the way text, images and videos show up clearly, with good viewing angles. I was able to enjoy high-resolution videos from YouTube up to 1080p, which showed up nicely on the screen.

We all feel an increased heartbeat when we drop our phones. Luckily, the Kyocera DuraForce Pro is designed to survive such accidental impacts. The display comes with their in-house Kyocera Sapphire Shield protection, which adds a protective layer of scratch-proof sapphire to the glass. It keeps off marks from keys, screwdrivers, pins, or drops from even 5 feet. It’s perfect if you work in a busy factory that you are likely to drop your phone, or going camping, mountain climbing in hilly areas, and other related situations. It’s amazing that you can actually operate the phone while donning your gloves. It’s meant to survive impact and be used on the outside; thanks to the IPS technology, outdoor visibility is excellent. Its display is a close match to the shatterproof display on the Moto Z Force Droid.

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Camera

The rugged Kyocera DuraForce Pro comes with an interesting camera setup. It has a dual 13MP rear camera shooter and a 5MP lens on the front. The camera sensor is fitted with auto-focus and the rear camera has a LED flash. In well-lit environments, pictures are clear with enough details. The LED flash comes in handy in low light conditions, however, the sensor struggles to focus. Low light photos are acceptable, but the camera will take a few seconds to capture. This is not a major issue as most cameras tend to struggle in low light shooting. The dual setup on the back includes a wide-angle 2MP lens to capture an even wider area or more faces in a group photo. The wide-angle lens records 1080p video at 30fps. The wide-angle lens can be perfect as a car dashboard mounting device like the GoPro mount. For great videos, capturing your favorite moments, you are better of going with the 13MP camera lens, because it captures more details as compared to the 2MP wide-angle lens. The 5-mp front shooter fares well, taking quite good photos in well-lit environments, but struggles in low light.

The phone includes a dedicated key to quickly launch the camera app without touching the screen or having to unlock your phone. The camera app is pretty simple to use. The default settings work fine in taking photos. Manual controls are available to adjust a few camera settings such as ISO and white balance. As expected, the app packs typical camera modes such as panorama, underwater, night view, sports, time lapse, slow motion, and effect/filter. The underwater mode is the most interesting as it allows you to record videos under water. While underwater, the physical buttons are used instead of tapping on the screen. Both front and back cameras can record 1080p videos @30fps. Image stabilization is good as it makes it possible to take stable photos, even when your hand is a bit shaky. By far, the cameras on the Kyocera DuraForce Pro are really good and certainly more than we expected on a rugged smartphone.

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Storage

The Kyocera DuraForce Pro has 32GB of internal storage which is just great. This is an incredible amount of storage that you will use to store a lot of stuff. It matches the amount of internal storage we get on flagship gadgets like the Galaxy S7. Its other sibling the Kyocera Hydro Icon has 8GB of internal storage. Interestingly, the Kyocera DuraForce Pro has support for external memory expansion up to 256GB. The external memory card can be configured to work as internal storage, which will allow you to install and run apps directly from the microSD card.

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Battery

Onboard the Kyocera DuraForce Pro is a 3240mAh battery which took us through a day of average use on a single charge. The battery is rated to last up to 20 days on standby and up to 19 hours of talk time. In our rundown test, which involved streaming a continuous video on Sprint’s LTE network, the battery lasted just under 6 hours. This is a test we take all our phones through to ascertain how long they can last on continuous intensive tasks. Internet streaming usually drains batteries faster, and you will be looking for a charging outlet in 6 hours. With normal usage, the phone should last you a full day, with about 40% of juice left for the evening.

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Performance

Kyocera DuraForce Pro has a powerful octa-core processor. The 8 cores are divided into 2; 4 cores with a clock speed of 1.5GHz for intensive tasks, and 4 cores with a clock speed of 1.2GHz for regular less intensive tasks. This setup helps increase battery life by shutting off half of the processor cores when they are not required, while still maintaining good performance. Paired with the processor, is 3GB of RAM to provide enough runtime environment for your apps. The graphics processing unit is covered by the Adreno 405 which handles all the gaming tasks.

Kyocera DuraForce Pro ships running Android 6.0 Marshmallow which is one of the recent Android versions. As is the case with phone manufacturers, there are a few UI changes. This is done to differentiate Kyocera phones from other phones running Android. In the Kyocera DuraForce Pro, there are minor UI changes experienced in the settings screen and the notifications panel. It also comes with a few apps from Sprint, which don’t really get in the way when you are using the phone. With an octa-core processor, 3GB of RAM and the optimized Android 6.0 Marshmallow, performance is blazingly fast; apps launch in an instant, multitasking is a breeze; and the fluid user interface and animations make it enjoyable to use the phone.

Call quality on the Sprint network is good. I could communicate clearly and be heard by friends on the other end of the line. If you go with the Verizon version, it promises great quality as Verizon is one of the strongest networks around the country. We discuss the wireless plans pricing in a section below. The phone being a 4G LTE enabled device, internet speeds are incredible. The overall performance of the Kyocera DuraForce Pro is impressive, and it certainly gives value for the money. Below is a list of specifications.

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Specifications

  • 4G LTE / GSM / Wi-Fi.
  • Display: 5.0-inch; 1080 x 1920 pixels resolution.
  • Display Type: IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen.
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
  • Processor: Octa-core (4x1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 & 4x1.2 GHz Cortex-A53).
  • Chipset: Qualcomm MSM8952 Snapdragon 617.
  • GPU: Adreno 405.
  • Back Camera: Dual 13MP Auto-Focus; LED flash, geo-tagging, face detection, HDR, touch focus, panorama. Video capture 1080p@30fps.
  • Front Camera: 5MP.
  • Internal Storage: 32GB; external memory expansion with a microSD up to 256GB.
  • RAM: 3GB.
  • Battery: 3240mAh non-removable Li-Ion battery; standby time up to 20 days, talk time up to 19 hours.
  • Wireless charging.
  • IP68 dust/waterproof (up to 1.5m for 30 mins).
  • Hearing Aid Compatible M4/T3.
  • Sensors: Fingerprint (front-mounted), proximity, accelerometer, gyro, compass, barometer.
  • Bluetooth 4.2.
  • NFC.
  • GPS, A-GPS.
  • Hotspot.