Kyocera Event serves up midlevel Android 4.0 smarts with no contract (hands-on)

The contract-free Kyocera Event is an affordable midrange smartphone from Virgin Mobile that's equipped with a 3.5-inch screen, Android 4.0 ICS, and a larger font display option called MagniFont.

Lynn La Senior Editor / Reviews - Phones
Lynn La covers mobile reviews and news. She previously wrote for The Sacramento Bee, Macworld and The Global Post.
Lynn La
3 min read

Today, Virgin Mobile and Kyocera announced their latest midtier handset, the Kyocera Event. For $79.99, this compact phone offers users decent specs at a reasonable price, which include a 3.2-megapixel camera, Android 4.0, and a 1GHz Snapdragon processor.

In terms of specs and aesthetics, the phone is nearly identical to Boost's Kyocera Hydro, but without all the waterproof protection. It will be available today in black, and starting March 3 RadioShack will begin offering the device in red.

The Kyocera Event is a simple device with severely rounded corners and a textured back plate. Again, it looks similar to the Hydro in both size and shape, with neither handset feeling especially luxurious due to the glossy plastic design.

The Event measures 4.53 inches tall and 2.41 inches wide. With a 0.46-inch profile, it is a little on the thick side, and it weighs 4.1 ounces. On the left sits a volume rocker, and up top are a 3.5mm headphone jack and a Micro-USB port for charging. The right edge hosts a sleep/power button.

Kyocera Event (profile)
The Kyocera Event sports the familiar black slab design, and has a relatively thick, 0.46-inch profile. Lynn La/CNET

It sports a 3.5-inch IPS capacitive touch screen that has a 480x320-pixel resolution. This isn't top-tier by any means, but during my time with it, text and app icons looked crisp. High-resolution images, however, like default wallpapers, came off grainy (especially color gradients). Below the display are three spaced-out hot keys that light up when in use, for back, home, and menu.

The rear houses a 3.2-megapixel camera with LED flash. The back plate is textured with a fishnet design, and if you pry it off, you can access the 1,500mAh removable lithium ion battery.

Touring the Kyocera Event (pictures)

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The Event ships natively with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. During my hands-on time, I found the device came stocked with a few standard Google apps like Maps with Navigation, Chrome, Gmail, Messenger, Search, Talk, YouTube, access to Play Books, Magazines, Movies and TV, Music, and the Store portal.

However, since it will be on Virgin, don't be surprised if a bunch of carrier apps find their way inside the handset, like Virgin's Mobile ID app, or an app for checking your phone and data plan.

Two notable features include Eco Mode, which is an energy- and battery-conserving module that we've seen on previous Kyocera phones. There is also a MagniFont Mode option nestled under Settings for those who want to improve text readability by increasing the font size one level larger than the "Extra Large" or "Huge" setting that is common on Android devices.

Kyocera Event (back)
The back of the handset features a fishnet texture, and a 3.2-megapixel camera with flash. Lynn La/CNET

Other features include Swype typing, a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, and Bluetooth 2.1. As for mental capacity, it will have 4GB of ROM, 512MB of RAM, and 32GB of expandable memory thanks to a microSD card slot.

Looking at Virgin's current lineup of handsets, the Event looks to be one of the few smartphones that is less than $100. It will stand side by side with the Kyocera Rise, a phone with almost identical specs that is also $79.99, but sports a physical QWERTY keyboard.

The next-most expensive handset is the LG Optimus Elite. Its price is $20 higher, and it sports a 5-megapixel camera but runs an older version of Android. So even though the Event won't break new ground in technology, it's a good midlevel device that's offered at a very competitive price and you'll get Android 4.0. to boot.