Kyocera Hydro Plus (Cricket Wireless) review:

Inexpensive and waterproof, but glacially slow

Kyocera Hydro Plus (Cricket Wireless) call quality sample

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The device runs on Cricket Wireless' 3G network. Though data speeds were consistent, they were slow -- especially when it came to downloading the 41.46MB Temple Run 2 game. Finishing a full download of that app took so long; when 35 minutes passed, only a meager 10 percent of the game was downloaded. On average, it took 27 seconds and nearly a minute for the CNET mobile and desktop sites to load, respectively. The New York Times mobile site clocked in at 14 seconds, while its full page finished in 55 seconds. ESPN, meanwhile, loaded in 27 seconds for the mobile version, and 46 seconds for the desktop. Ookla's speed test app showed an average of 0.25Mbps down and 0.62Mbps up.

Kyocera Hydro Plus (Cricket Wireless) Performance
Average 3G download speed 0.25Mpbs
Average 3G upload speed 0.62Mbps
CNET mobile site load 27 seconds
CNET desktop site load 59 seconds
Power off and restart time 55 seconds
Camera boot time 2.56 seconds

Inside the handset is a 1GHz Snapdragon processor. While this is enough to get the phone by for daily and necessary tasks like opening up the app drawer, unlocking the screen, and calling up the keyboard, I did notice that it took a hair longer than I preferred for the Hydro Plus to do other, more complicated tasks. Launching the camera, for instance, took 2.56 seconds long to open, and shutting down and restarting the device took 55 seconds. In addition, playing the graphics-intensive game Riptide GP 2 also showed a low frame rate. To the handset's credit, however, the app never stuttered or force-quit during my time playing with it. When I ran benchmark tests on the smartphone for CPU performance, its highest Quadrant score was 2,302. It also had a Linpack multithread result of 26.21 MFLOPs in 6.44 seconds.

Kyocera Hydro Plus (benchmark)
Speedtest (left) and Quadrant benchmark scores for the Hydro Plus. Lynn La/CNET

The 1,500mAh battery has a reported talk itme of 8.5 hours and a standby time of 7 days. During our battery drain test for talk time, it lasted 11 hours and 10 minutes. With mild usage it would last through a workday, and it lasted all weekend on standby. According to FCC radiation measurements, it has a digital SAR rating of 1.33W/kg.

For a $139.99 off-contract device, the Kyocera Hydro Plus does have its benefits. On one hand, its waterproof design allows you peace of mind the next time you're at a pool party, and its unique Muve Music feature enables users to search and download tons of music for free (with your phone service). On the other hand, however, its slow internal and data speeds make it a drag to operate, and the fact that it ships with Android 4.0 means it's behind even before you take it out of the box.

Fortunately, there are other prepaid carriers that sell better Hydro devices within the same price range. If you're not bent on being a Cricket Wireless customer, consider MetroPCS' Kyocera Hydro XTRM, for example. It's just $30 more (though with current temporary discounts it's just $49) and has 4G LTE, a 5-megapixel camera, and Android 4.1.2. Likewise, the Hydro Edge from Boost Mobile has similar specs as the XTRM (though it only runs on 3G) and is available for just $99.99.

If you do want to be on Cricket's network and don't need a splash-proof smartphone, the $129.99 Samsung Galaxy Admire 2 is also a good choice considering its quality 5-megapixel camera, 4G LTE capabilities, and bigger 4-inch display. And though it's a bit more expensive at $179.99, the HTC One SV is a stylish and thin device with a fast dual-core Snapdragon S4 Plus processor.

Either way, whether you decide to go with these other Hydro phones or Cricket's alternative budget handsets, you'll still get a device that performs better than the Hydro Plus, and still have money enough left over.

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