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Kyocera Event (Virgin Mobile) review: Though only 3G, it's affordable and reliable

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The Good The competitively priced Kyocera Event has great call quality and its 3.2-megapixel camera takes decent photos.

The Bad The Event's touch-screen interface isn't very accurate, and its 3G data speeds are inconsistent.

The Bottom Line Though you won't get blazing data or processing speeds on the Kyocera Event, as an affordable smartphone it's an excellent choice.

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6.7 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 7
  • Performance 7

Review Sections

Though the Kyocera Event has only 3G data and is nearly identical to the Kyocera Hydro, save for not being waterproof like the Hydro, it still has enough tricks up its sleeve to be considered a reliable and decent handset.

True, the biggest incentive to buy it is that bargain price tag. At $79.99, it's one of the two best Android smartphones (the other being the Kyocera Rise) in its price range. But it doesn't hurt that it has a respectable rear-facing camera and runs Android 4.0 as well.

The Kyocera Event is compact, and at only 4.1 ounces, is lightweight and comfortable to hold. With its all-plastic construction, it's not the most luxurious-feeling device, but I did appreciate its tapered edges and angled corners.

It measures 4.5 inches tall and 2.4 inches wide, and has a thickness of 0.46 inch. Due to its small size, it fits easily in front jean pockets and small bags. On the left side is a volume rocker, up top are a 3.5mm headphone jack and Micro-USB port, and the right houses a sleep/power button.

Kyocera Event
Because of the Event's petite frame, it fits comfortably in front jean pockets. Josh Miller/CNET

On the back is a small audio speaker, with a 3.2-megapixel camera with flash to the right of that. You can pry off the back plate using a small indent on the right of the handset to access the battery and microSD card slot, which takes cards of up to 32GB. Unfortunately, you'll need to remove the battery first to insert the card underneath it.

The 3.5-inch HVGA touch screen has a 480x320-pixel resolution and is responsive to simple swipes. However, I experienced difficulties with more precise tasks, like tapping on the URL bar of a browser, or even typing. Oftentimes, the display registered my taps inaccurately or not at all, and it'd take a few more taps for the screen to finally carry out my selection. Above the display is a notification light and below are three hot keys that light up white when in use, for back, home, and menu.

The phone runs Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich, and includes all the Google apps you'd expect: Chrome, Gmail, Plus, Maps with Navigation and Latitude, Local, Messenger, access to the Google Play Books, Magazines, Movies & TV, Music, and the Store, Search, Talk, and YouTube.

Other basic task management features are a native browser and e-mail client, a calculator, a calendar, a clock with alarm functions, a news and weather app, and a voice dialer. It also has an app called ICE that stores your emergency contacts and pertinent medical information, and Qualcomm IZat, a location service app.

Kyocera Event
The Event's 3.2-megapixel camera, flash, and textured back plate. Josh Miller/CNET

One notable feature is Eco Mode, which is an energy- and battery-conserving module that we've seen on previous Kyocera devices. There is also a MagniFont Mode option 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.

Virgin Mobile included its own apps too. One is called MyAccount, which lets you check your phone and data plan, and the other is Mobile ID. With Mobile ID, you can customize your five home screen pages with certain preselected apps, widgets, and other items depending on which ID profile you choose. Currently, there are six available packs.

The Event also has 4GB of internal storage and Bluetooth 2.1 connectivity.

Camera and video
The 3.2-megapixel camera comes with a few options like flash, digital zoom, five white balances, six scene modes, geotagging, five photo sizes (from 480x320 to 2,048x1,536), three picture qualities, five color effects, three exposure options, and six ISO levels.

Video recording includes two recording modes (MMS or Long Video, the former limited to only 30 seconds of recording time), continuous flash, all the same zooming, white balance, geotagging, color effects, and exposure options, time lapse, and four image qualities (from 320x240 to 800x480).

For such a low-spec camera, photo quality was surprisingly decent, though understandably not outstanding. Photos looked best when taken in amply lit settings. In general pictures contained a notable amount of digital noise, bright lights blew out easily, and dark hues were hard to distinguish. However, objects were still easy to make out and weren't incredibly blurred, and colors were accurate.

Kyocera Event (outdoor)
In this amply lit outdoor photo, the blue water and green grass are still bright, and various people can still be identified. Lynn La/CNET

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