Kyocera Hydro (Boost Mobile) review:

Kyocera Hydro (Boost Mobile)

Camera and video
In addition to a flash and a zoom meter, the 3.2 megapixel camera has six scene modes (auto, portrait, scenery, night portrait, night scenery, and action), five white-balance options, geotagging, five photo sizes, three picture qualities, five colors effects (aqua, negative, sepia, mono, and none), and three exposure options.

As for the camcorder, you're first prompted to choose between two video lengths, MMS (30 seconds) and long video (which depends on how much memory is available). With the exception of the scene modes and photo qualities, all features in the camera mode are retained.

Photo quality was perfectly adequate. In outdoor shots with ample lighting, colors were true to life and bright, and edges were well-defined. Due to a lack of touch focus, bright whites were washed out and it was hard to differentiate dark hues, but objects for the most part were in focus. Indoor shots with less lighting understandably fared a little worse, with more digital noise showing up in the photos. Light hues were especially grainy and objects were noticeably blurrier.

Kyocera Hydro outdoor shot
In this sunny outdoor shot, colors are saturated and bright. Lynn La/CNET
Kyocera Hydro indoor shot
More digital noise is apparent in this indoor shot. Lynn La/CNET
Kyocera Hydro SSI shot
In our standard studio shot, graininess is noticeable against the white background. Josh Miller/CNET

Video quality was satisfactory; audio picked up nicely, with no extraneous buzzing, and there was no lag between my moving of the camera and feedback from the viewfinder. Colors were richly saturated (though, again, it was hard to distinguish dark hues), and objects, like moving cars and people speedily walking down the street, remained in focus and clear.

I tested the quad-band (CDMA 800, 1700, 2100, 1900) Kyocera Hydro in San Francisco using Boost's services. Call and signal quality were both very strong. In calls taken outdoors and indoors, my friends sounded clear and loud, and were easy to understand. There were no extra noises or humming, calls didn't drop, and audio didn't clip and out. Speakerphone was also excellent, though maximum volume could have been louder. Likewise, my friend said that I sounded perfectly fine, and that my voice came off crisp and clear.

Kyocera Hydro (Boost Mobile) call quality sample Listen now:

Boost's 3G network (1xEV-DO rA) isn't the fastest on the market, but it isn't glacial enough to be incredibly irritating. Loading the CNET mobile site took an average of 13 seconds, while loading our full site took 51 seconds. The New York Times full site took even less time on average, clocking in at 36 seconds, and its mobile site took 9 seconds to load. ESPN's mobile site took 17 seconds, and its full site loaded in 30 seconds. On average, the game Temple Run, which is 22MB, took 6 minutes and 38 seconds to download. And the Ookla speed test app showed me an average of 0.35Mbps down and 0.66Mbps up.

As for its waterproof status, the handset satisfies IPX-5 and IPX-7 levels of waterproof certification, meaning it can be sprayed with water and submerged in up to 1 meter of water for 30 minutes, respectively, and still keep working. I found the device survived a rest underwater in a glass vase for 30 minutes and a 10-minute dip at the bottom of a pool, and it continuously played YouTube videos while in the shower. After each one of these tests, I didn't notice any technical hiccups in performance or residual moisture at the edge of the screen.

During our battery drain tests, the handset lasted 9.72 hours. Anecdotally, I spent most of the day browsing the Web, talking on the phone, and watching videos, without making a huge dent in the battery's reserves. According to FCC radiation tests, the phone has a digital SAR rating of 1.14W/kg.

Unfortunately, call quality with Cricket Wireless’ network fared a bit worse. Like it was on Boost, maximum volume could stand to be louder, and none of my calls dropped. However, audio was noticeably clipping in and out. My friend heard it on both ends, but said it was not very distracting. I, on the other hand, found it happening every few seconds and I had to ask my friend a few times to repeat himself. Calls on audio speaker also sounded scratchy, and I could hear a subtle static noise. In general however, I could still make out what my friend was saying and calls weren't rendered completely senseless.

Kyocera Hydro (Cricket Wireless) call quality sample Listen now:

Cricket’s 3G network in San Francisco was also noticeably slower than Boost’s and in general, was frustratingly glacial. There were several times it dropped from 3G to 1X, and to load CNET’s mobile and desktop site, it took 35 seconds and 1 minute and 26 seconds, respectively. The mobile site for The New York Time’s clocked in at 28 seconds, and its desktop site took an average of a minute and 51 seconds. For ESPN, it took 29 seconds for the mobile version and 1 minute and 5 seconds for the full. The average speed for uploading and installing Temple Run took a nose dive, and it took a whopping 24 minutes and 14 seconds to download. Finally, Ookla scores topped out at 0.21MBps down and 0.35Mbps up. As for processing speed, it took an average of 45 seconds to restart the device and 2.45 seconds to launch the camera.

Kyocera Hydro Boost Mobile Cricket Wireless
Average 3G download speed 0.35Mbps 0.21Mbps
Average 3G upload speed 0.66Mbps 0.35Mbps
App download 22MB in 6 minutes, 38 seconds 22MB in 24 minutes, 14 seconds
CNET mobile site load 13 seconds 35 seconds
CNET desktop site load 51 seconds 1 minute and 26 seconds

During its battery drain test, the phone lasted 9.95 hours, and was on par with its Boost counterpart. Anecdotally, after a 10 minute conversation, the battery lost about six percent of its reserves, and after a full hour web browsing and downloading, it lost about 36 percent. The SAR rating for this model is slightly higher at 1.17W/kg.

If you can handle slow CPU and data speeds, the Kyocera Hydro is a solid handset. Not only does it run Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, but at $129.99 (or $139.99 on Cricket), it's reasonably priced and you won't be tied down with a contract. But, it's worth considering that the device performed worse, both in call quality and data speeds, on Cricket Wireless' network. Still, the fact that it's a waterproof handset, regardless of what carrier it's on, is a definite plus. So the next time your phone accidentally takes a dip in the pool, you'll have the peace of mind of knowing that it could recover without mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Or rice.

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