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

Though this entry-level handset only has 3G data, the Kyocera Event is a reasonably priced, contract-free handset from Virgin that features Android 4.0, great call quality, and a 3.2-megapixel camera.

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
4 min read

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.


Kyocera Event (Virgin Mobile)

The Good

The competitively priced <b>Kyocera Event</b> 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.

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.

Rendezvous with the Kyocera Event (pictures)

See all photos

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

Kyocera Event (indoor)
Dark hues are difficult to distinguish in this indoor photo, and the light from the window is blown out. Lynn La/CNET

Kyocera Event (SSI)
In our standard studio shot, you can see a noticeable amount of digital noise, but objects are still easy to make out. Josh Miller/CNET

Video recording was also respectable. Objects, both still and moving, remained in focus, though audio picked up a little more harshly and tinny than in real life. Furthermore, in one video I recorded outdoors, a lens flare cast a dominating green streak across the footage, though it only lasted a few seconds.

I tested the Event in our San Francisco offices using Virgin Mobile's network. Call quality was excellent. Maximum volume was loud, but at a reasonable level, and voices came in crisp and clear. There were no extraneous buzzing sounds or static, even during times of absolute silence; none of my calls dropped, and audio didn't cut in and out. The audio speaker fared worse, as voices came off sharp, with a bit more fuzz and static surrounding each word. In turn, I was told that I too sounded clear, my friend actually noting that I sounded louder and better than on some of the AT&T handsets I've called from.

Kyocera Event (Virgin) call quality sample

Listen now:

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Virgin's 3G network isn't the fastest on the market, and that showed during my time surfing the Web on this phone. Loading the CNET mobile site took an average of 35 seconds, while loading our full site took 45 seconds. The New York Times full site took the same amount of time (45 seconds), and its mobile site clocked in at 13 seconds. ESPN's mobile site took 12 seconds, and its full site loaded in 46 seconds. On average, Temple Run 2, a 32.41MB game, took a whopping 26 minutes and 31 seconds to download. The Ookla speed test app showed me an average of 0.21Mbps down and 0.53Mbps up.

Kyocera Event Performance testing
Average 3G download speed 0.21Mpbs
Average 3G upload speed 0.53Mbps
App download (Temple Run 2) 32.41MB in 26 minutes and 31 seconds
CNET mobile site load 35 seconds
CNET desktop site load 45 seconds
Restart time 40 seconds
Camera boot time 2.13 seconds

Furthermore, there were a couple of times when data connection to the Play Store would fail, and there would be times it wouldn't start downloading an app unless I quit it and launched it again. Data times were also inconsistent. Sometimes a page would just take a few seconds to load, and other times the same site would take more than a minute to finally finish.

In general, the 1GHz processor is respectable. Playing the graphics-intense game Riptide GP, for instance, showed a low-frame rate and grainy animation. However, the app never stuttered or unexpectedly quit. Simple tasks, such as transitioning back to the home screen, changing orientation, and pinch zooming, were also carried out smoothly. On average, it took about 40 seconds to shut off and immediately turn on the device, and 2.13 seconds to launch the camera.

During our battery drain tests for talk-time, the 1,500mAh battery lasted 9.42 hours. Anecdotally, with light usage, it can certainly survive a workday without a charge. It has a reported talk time of 8.7 hours. According to FCC radiation tests, it has a digital SAR rating of 1.26W/kg.

The Event isn't the most feature-packed phone. Virgin has a number of handsets, such as the Samsung Galaxy Victory 4G LTE and the HTC Evo V 4G, which boast higher-tiered specs like Android Jelly Bean and 4G LTE. But if you want those features, you'll have to be ready to pay upward of $150.

If you're on a budget, half of Virgin's Android mobile lineup is currently under $100, and the Event and the Rise are the best of the bunch. The two handsets sport almost identical specs, but if it's a physical QWERTY keyboard phone you're looking for, then the Rise is the obvious choice.

The LG Optimus Elite is another Android device that's $10 cheaper than the Event. However, between the Event and the Elite, I'd choose the former. Yes, the Elite has a 5-megapixel camera, but unless you really care about a slight improvement in photos, the Event's shooter should serve just as well. In addition, you'll get great call quality and the newer Android 4.0 to boot.


Kyocera Event (Virgin Mobile)

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 7Performance 7