Sprint and Kyocera have “been in bed” for quite some time now. You typically only see phones from Kyocera landing on Sprint these days and this is no different. Today, we have the Kyocera Hydro Vibe, which is their latest water-resistant smartphone on Sprint. It’s by no means a high-end device, but more of a low-end smartphone from Sprint and Kyocera. It’s sporting a 4.7-inch qHD display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 quad-core processor clocked at 1.2GHz along with 1.5GB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage, Android 4.3 and a 2000mAh battery inside. As you can see it’s definitely not high end. Sprint is selling it right now for $0 down and $9.59/month or $29.99 with a new two-year contract. So keep that in mind as we go through this review.
The hardware on the Kyocera Hydro Vibe actually isn’t bad at all. In fact, I like it. It is made of plastic and has a bit of a rubberized texture on the back. It’s also a bit thicker than most devices, which I like since most devices are just becoming to thin to hold on to. There is a bit more bezel at the top than I’d like. It does have a removable back cover, so you can access the battery, microSD card and micro SIM card slot. You’ll also see the water resistant stuff on the back of the cover. On the back is also your 8MP camera which takes adequate pictures, but we’ll jump into that further down in this review. On the left side is the volume rocker, right side is your dedicated camera button (absolutely love dedicated camera buttons), up top is your power button and 3.5mm headphone jack. On the bottom is your microUSB port. Of course on the front is your front-facing camera, 4.7-inch display, and three capacitive keys which are back, home and recents. No menu button here.
I talked about the build quality a bit already, but I really like it, especially for being a $30 phone. It feels comfortable in hand, and the extra thickness is definitely welcomed. Although I’d like to see the power button on the side rather than the top. Now in terms of the water-resistant stuff, it’s about what you’d expect, it can be under water for 30 minutes, but you have to have the back cover on there completely, or else water will seep in and probably ruin your device.
Onto the display. Yes it’s a qHD display, which I kinda expected it to be a 720p display, but I’m sure Sprint and Kyocera have their reasons. The display does look nice, but you can see the pixels. Now this might be because I’m used to seeing 1920×1080 and 2560×1600 resolution displays now, but yes the pixels are visible. But that doesn’t make or break the device, in my opinion. As far as performance goes, it’s pretty good. The Snapdragon 400 is pretty powerful for a “low end chip”, in my opinion.
The software on the Kyocera Hydro Vibe is, well different. There are a lot of instances of stock Android in their overlay, which is nice. For instance, the notification panel and quick settings are straight out of stock Android. However, the settings are definitely not. The app drawer reminds me of LG and Samsung’s actually, just different colors obviously. There’s no continuous scrolling either, once you get to the end, you have to swipe back the other way. Which isn’t a big deal to me, but would definitely like infinite scrolling.
The Lockscreen is rather interesting too. There’s four shortcuts there, start/unlock, phone, messaging and camera. Which these are all customizable, which is a great thing. There’s a lot of vibration going on, on the lock screen though. From touching it to swiping over to what you want to open. The weather widget that comes on the lockscreen and home screen is what I really like, It’s basically got a transparent background and provides weather data from Accuweather.com. I wish it was available in the Play store actually.
It does have a 2000mAh battery inside which is long enough to get you through the day. I was able to get around 14-16 hours with about two hours on screen. Now that was a mixture of WiFi and mobile data (3G and LTE), so take that as you will.
The camera on this device is pretty adequate. I wouldn’t throw away my point and shoot in favor of it, but it’s not terrible either. Shutter speed was pretty good though, it wasn’t as fast as the HTC One M8, but about as fast as the Samsung Galaxy S5. You can check out the images I took with the device down below.
As far as a smartphone that’s available for $30 on a new contract, this is probably one of your better choices out there, especially on Sprint. Although Sprint does have the iPhone 5c, LG G2, Sprint Vital and a few other devices available for free on their network right now. It’s a pretty good device, just don’t expect it to stack up to other flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S5, LG G3, HTC One M8, etc.