Kyocera Hydro Edge review: Tepid phone buoyed solely by water resistance

Kyocera Hydro Edge (SSI)
In addition to objects being out of focus, you can see the vignetting effect more clearly in our standard studio shot. Josh Miller/CNET

Recording 720p video also yielded similar results. Again, main details and images were easy to make out, but objects (both moving and still) looked blurry, their colors looked dim, and when I recorded outdoors, I could hear a low but consistent "whooshing" type sound. Though it wasn't particularly distracting, it did, at times, prevent me from hearing other sounds as easily.

Performance
I tested the smartphone in our San Francisco offices. Because Boost Mobile runs on Sprint's network, I expected call quality to be similar, if not identical. And for the most part, this was true: none of my calls dropped and audio didn't clip in and out. Calls did come off a bit static-y, however, and I could hear a subtle crackling noise with every word my friend spoke. I was told that my voice on the other line gave off the same impression. Furthermore, while voices over speakerphone were easy to make out, there were times when the audio would get too loud and tinny.

There was a difference, however, that I noticed with Boost's Hydro Edge, specifically. During my phone conversations, I would hear a repetitive clicklike sound (similar to when you press down on a keyboard) every so often while my friend spoke. It was quite odd and distracting, and my friend said she could hear it coming from my end of the call as well.

Kyocera Hydro Edge (Sprint) call quality sample

Listen now:


Kyocera Hydro Edge (Boost Mobile) call quality sample

Listen now:


Both models run on Sprint's 3G network. On average, data speeds were rather slow. What bothered me most, however, was how inconsistent these speeds were. There were several times where both models stalled loading a simple Web page, and a site that, in the past would load in 15 seconds or so, would later take 2 minutes to load.

I took the fastest three times, however, and averaged them out. The Sprint model loaded CNET's mobile site loaded in 16 seconds and our desktop site in 56 seconds. The New York Times' mobile site took about 13 seconds, while its desktop version took 35 seconds. ESPN's mobile site took 12 seconds, and its full site loaded in 21 seconds. Ookla's Speedtest app showed me an average of 0.21Mbps down and 0.66Mbps up. Understandably, the Boost model clocked in with similar results.

As for downloading a game, I tried to install Temple Run 2 (which is 32.41MB) several times, but the app would rarely launch into download mode at the Play store. Instead, I'd see the progress bar spiral forever. On the rare occasions that it did, the fastest time the game ever completely downloaded and installed was in 15 minutes and 44 seconds. However, there were times when it took much longer than that -- one time 35 minutes passed and the game was only 75 percent completed.

Kyocera Hydro Edge Performance testing
Average 3G download speed 0.21Mpbs
Average 3G upload speed 0.66Mbps
App download (Temple Run 2) 32.41MB in 15 minutes and 44 seconds
CNET mobile site load 16 seconds
CNET desktop site load 56 seconds
Restart time 51 seconds
Camera boot time 2.85 seconds

The device is powered by a dual-core Snapdragon 1GHz processor. On the whole, the handset can be sluggish. It takes about 51 seconds to power off and turn on the phone, and it takes just a hair too long to do things like switch from landscape to portrait mode, launch the app drawer, or quit a simple app and return to the home pages. As I previously mentioned, the camera is also slow and on average, it takes 2.85 seconds to launch it.

Moreover, upon initial download, the graphics-intensive game Riptide GP did force quit. However, that only happened just once and after that, the app played smoothly and never stalled or froze again.

Waterproof testing yielded most positive results, and I can attest that the Edge is water resistant. It's advertised as being able to survive in up to a meter of water for 30 minutes. Our review units survived many dunkings, 30 minutes completely submerged in a cylindrical container, and sitting inside a running shower for 20 minutes.

The device's screen is also made out of impact-resistant Dragontrail glass. I kicked the handset down a couple of flights of stairs several times, and while the body itself accumulated lots of scratches and scuffs, the screen remained intact.

During our battery drain test, our Sprint model lasted 5.13 hours for video playback, while the Boost unit lasted slightly shorter at 4.78 hours. It has a reported talk time of 13 hours. According to FCC radiation standards, it has a digital SAR rating of 1.48W/kg.

Conclusion
Whether you're purchasing the Kyocera Hydro Edge on contract or off, you're getting a good deal either way. With that price, you'll get the Edge's waterproof capabilities, so you can breathe a little easier the next time you're at a large body of water or drop your phone in the sink.

But if having a waterproof handset isn't a huge deal for you, spend a little bit more for a faster, more powerful device. Sprint's LG Optimus F3 , for example, has a better processor and 4G LTE. As for Boost customers, the LG Mach ships with an older version of Android, but it too has 4G and a faster CPU as well. True, you'll be paying $10 and $30 more, respectively, but given the Edge's 3G speeds and unimpressive call quality, you'll be glad you spent the extra money.

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    Kyocera Hydro Edge (Sprint)

    Part Number: HYDROEDGESPT Released: 19 Jul 2013
    Pricing is currently unavailable.

    Quick Specifications See All

    • Regional specs shown for US. AU specs are unavailable.

    • Release date 19 Jul 2013
    • Service Provider Sprint Nextel
    • Weight 4.5 oz
    • Diagonal Size 4 in
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