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First Look: A waterproof phone that doesn't quite make a splash

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First Look: A waterproof phone that doesn't quite make a splash

3:26 /

The $149.99 Kyocera Hydro Icon is waterproof, but inconsistent call quality holds it back.

[MUSIC] Hi this is Nate Ralph with CNET and today we're checking out the Kyocera Hydro Icon. It's a $150 Smartphone developed from Boost Mobile. And it's notable because it's built to military grade specifications. So the Icon doesn't necessarily look like a phone that's especially rugged. It isn't covered in a giant plastic case. And it isn't incredibly thick or anything like that. But is actually water resistant, up to 1 meter, or about 3 feet. And it's shock proof, and dust proof. And it's actually a pretty sturdy device. Under the hood is a 1.2 gigahertz quad core processor. It's not the fastest CPU on the block, by any means. But it's actually pretty decent. I tried a bunch of pretty hardware intensive games. And they all rain fairly well. Which isn't bad for a phone that's $150 without a contract. Inside you'll find eight gigs total of internal storage space, but only about four gigs are actually acceptable to the user. So you're going to wanna get a micro SD card, the focus support up to 32 gigs of expansive storage. So the [UNKNOWN] is two cameras, there's the two mega pixel shooter on the front, and a eight mega pixel camera on the rear. It's not a great camera, but it's not terrible. If you've got, you know, a steady object that you wanna shoot and you've got nice lighting, you can get some decent picture out of it. Where the phone does fall flat, however, is on call quality and data speed. The Icon runs on Boost Mobile, and Boost Mobile doesn't actually offer its 4G LTE service in San Francisco proper. You're gonna look. Further out into the Bay Area. That means here in San Francisco you're gonna be stuck on 3G. which is pretty slow for things like downloading apps or uploading photos to social networks. The phone also struggles with call quality. Now when I called people, I could generally hear them rather fine- we'll get to hearing them in a moment- but when I spoke to people, I would often get complaints about. Echoing or sounding like I was at the bottom of a well, which is kind of unfortunate. But as for actually hearing people, Kyocera has been baking something rather interesting into their phones. They're calling it the smart sonic receiver. If you look at the top of the phone, you'll notice there's no traditional speaker for you to place your ear against. And that's because built into the phone right at the top here- Is a transceiver that actually pumps vibrations through the hard cartilage in your ear and that makes things sound incredibly clear. Unfortunately, that means that you're, you're gonna hear every crackle, hiss and pop of Goose Mobile's network. Which isn't exactly an optimal experience. As with most smart phones, you're gonna wanna check the coverage area before you buy it. So what about that military grade rating? Well, it works, and by that I mean you can dunk the phone into a bucket of water and it'll continue to function. Now there are caveats of course. If any water gets. Under the back plate somehow, then the phone is going to be destroyed no matter what. But it forms a really nice, tight seal. And it shouldn't be problematic if you're careful with your phone. So now we get to the ultimate question. Who is this phone for? Well, at $150, it's not very expensive at all, and there's no contract. Boot mobile's plans start at 40 dollars and end at 60 and that gets you unlimited data at 4g LTE speeds. Of course that LTE coverage isn't going to mean much if you live in an area that Boost Mobile networks simply doesn't reach. I'm Nate Ralph, you can read the rest of the review on www.cnet.com. Thanks for watching. [MUSIC]

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