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HolidayBuyer's Guide

The compact Kyocera Hydro Elite

A sleeker design

This isn't a sponge?

Bit slow at times

Getting an 8-MP boost

Bright HD screen

Extras from Kyocera

Living up to its name, the water-resistant Kyocera Hydro Elite sports a slim design and an 8-megapixel camera. In addition, not only does it have 4G LTE (bringing the total now to three Kyocera handsets in the US with LTE), but it's also the company's first Android smartphone on Verizon Wireless. It is currently available for $49.99 from the carrier.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

The Elite measures 4.82 inches tall, 2.38 inches wide, 0.43 inch thick, and weighs 4.51 ounces. Its left and right edges house a volume rocker and Micro-USB port, respectively. Up top are a 3.5mm headphone jack and a sleep/power button marked by a small red line.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

The handset can withstand being splashed with water and can also reportedly survive a full dunking in up to a meter's depth for 30 minutes. During our tests, it kept ticking after several dunkings, and lived through 30 minutes of being completely underwater in a shallow bowl.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

The device is powered by a 2,100mAh battery and a dual-core Snapdragon 1.5GHz processor. In general, the Elite can carry out small but necessary tasks with no trouble. However, at times, it can be slow, and some actions take a hair longer than I'd prefer.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

Unlike past Hydro devices that usually feature a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera, this handset packs an 8-megapixel camera instead. The camera can record 1080p HD video, and on the Elite's front is a 1.3-megapixel camera.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

Clear and responsive, the smartphone's 4.3-inch HD touch screen has a 1,280x720-pixel resolution. It's one of the more accurate screens I have handled from Kyocera, and as a result, texting was much easier on the device's digital keyboard than past products.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET

Three software add-ons that are unique to Kyocera handsets are MagniFont, MaxiMZR, and EcoMode. MagniFont improves text readability by increasing the font size. MaxiMZR lets you limit the data connection of apps running in the background to conserve battery life. Finally, EcoMode adjusts certain device settings (like the dimness of your screen) to conserve battery life.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET
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