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Kyocera Hydro Edge Review

Review by Andrew Kameka on Thursday October 17, 2013.

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Kyocera Hydro Edge (Sprint and Boost)
Kyocera Hydro Edge (Sprint and Boost)

For many consumers who aren't caught up in the smartphone arms race, there comes a point at which a phone is just too "too" - too big, too expensive, or too confusing. Not everyone needs to have the fastest, brightest, and most amazing phone. Some people just want a device that is reliable and sensible.

The Kyocera Hydro Edge is a phone aimed squarely at that crowd. The phone is obviously underpowered, but is it powerful enough to meet the needs of someone seeking a water and dust-resistant Android phone?

Hardware and Design

The Kyocera Hydro Edge is built tough like so many rugged phones before it. The difference is that it doesn't look or feel like those devices because it's not really rugged like the Kyocera Torque. The coarse materials and thick structure seen on the for shock proofing are gone, so the phone is less likely to emerge from a fall unscathed. In its place is a hard plastic frame with a dimpled battery door.

The battery door is fairly important because when secure, it provides dust proofing and IP57 waterproofing, allowing the phone to survive being 1 meter (3.28 feet) underwater for up to 30 minutes. Ensuring that the door is on firmly is critical; I almost made the mistake of getting the phone wet after neglecting to properly secure it, but the design is sound when used correctly. An inner lining adds extra protection to keep the battery and other internal features from being destroyed by water damage in the rain or dropping the phone in a pool or less sanitized place where water builds up (i.e. your toilet).

Kyocera built an otherwise attractive phone. The back material is comfortable and the device is palm-sized. The phone is very light at only 127.5g (4.5oz) and has a simple black and smoky color scheme with light silver accents for volume buttons and the camera ring. The power button at the top of the phone can be reached easily, the volume buttons are on the left, and a dedicated camera button is on the bottom right. Capacitive buttons for Back, Home, and Menu are at the bottom. My only complaint is that there's a sizable bezel around the 4-inch display, but that's to be expected when using hardware buttons instead of virtual ones.

Kyocera Hydro Edge (Sprint and Boost)
Kyocera Hydro Edge (Sprint and Boost)

Screen Quality

Speaking of screens, the Hydro Edge has one that won't knock anyone's socks off. The phone has a 4-inch touchscreen with WVGA resolution (800x480) that sometimes looks as if it is being viewed through a very thin mesh overlay. The colors look good when cranked to full brightness, though it's obviously not the most impressive display around. On the bright side, it is impact resistant and is less likely to suffer massive cracks to the front display when dropped.

Kyocera Hydro Edge (Sprint and Boost)
Kyocera Hydro Edge (Sprint and Boost)

Performance and Key Specs

The Kyocera Hydro Edge is obviously on the low-end of specs and isn't fast. That becomes apparent when swiping through the home screens. In fact, you learn that lesson just by observing the stutter that occurs when unlocking the device and watching it hang for a second before going to the home screen.

With only a 1 GHz dual-core processor and 1GB RAM, the Hydro Edge is just for the basics. Someone looking for a blazing fast phone that can handle the weight of high-end gaming would never consider this device. The phone has just under 1GB of accessible internal storage, so you can't download many apps or games anyway. Someone who just needs a reliable phone that can play Pandora and browse the web will find this moves fast enough to just be tolerable, and that's about it.

- 1GB of internal storage (32GB microSD)
- 1 GHz dual-core processor, 1GB RAM
- Dimension: 124.4 x 63.5 x 9.9mm (4.9 x 2.5 x 0.39in)
- Weight: 127.5g (4.5oz)
- Bluetooth 4.0, 3G

Kyocera Hydro Edge (Sprint and Boost)
Kyocera Hydro Edge (Sprint and Boost)

Software and Apps

Kyocera has taken Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and made its own with some light modifications. The notification drawer has quick toggles for several settings, and users have the option to rearrange the order or which settings will appear. Though it also made some cosmetic changes for the launcher and App Drawer icons, the important apps remain untouched. Change is rarely good when it comes to Android, but Kyocera's contributions are actually favorable. The lock screen can jump to different apps by pressing down anywhere on screen and then flicking in the indicated direction. Unfortunately, the slow performance of the phone tends to make the lock screen hang for a second after making the selection.

There's also a pair of helpful apps to extend battery and a ton of links to Sprint's carrier bloatware apps. The gesture-based Swype keyboard is included free of charge and can be a way to quickly enter text by swiping in the general direction of the letters that make up a word. Kyocera's software package is otherwise a familiar sight of what we saw on the Kyocera Torque. It's simple and it works for doing what needs to be done.


With a 5-megapixel rear camera, the Hydro Edge takes serviceable photos; images captured aren't amazing, but no one should expect stunning visuals with an entry-level device. We might be more critical if a high-end device supported these photos, so the photos taken by the Hydro Edge are good enough considering the target audience. Images lack strong colors or clarity, and stability is very important for getting a good photo. Though it lacks a front-facing camera, the rear camera supports HDR photo and 720p HD video.

Communication and Data

Kyocera's Smart Sonic Receiver technology is a blessing for people who travel in noisy environments and need enhanced call quality. The Hydro Edge uses SSR, which transmits sound through vibrations in human tissue and creates a much clearer sound. I was able to have an issue-free phone conversation with someone while standing in the middle of Times Square. While all other aspects of the device deliver entry-level performance, call quality is the one area good enough that the Hydro Edge can punch above its weight class.

The biggest blemish on the communication experience is that Sprint's data network is not as good as the call quality on the phone. The Hydro Edge supports only 3G, and Sprint's network in the areas that I travel are terribly slow. At least with other Sprint devices, there's hope that the introduction of 4G LTE might someday offer a chance for improvement. The Hydro Edge offers no such luck, so this might be a device to avoid unless Sprint's 3G performance in your area is strong.

Kyocera Hydro Edge (Sprint and Boost)
Kyocera Hydro Edge (Sprint and Boost)

Battery Life

The Hydro Edge has a 1,600 mAh battery. That's very low by today's standards, but keep in mind that the phone is less demanding than the average smartphone. It has a smaller screen resolution, lower processor, and isn't capable of being a heavy lifter, so battery-taxing activity is unlikely. The battery offers about 8 hours of moderate usage. You won't get a full day out of this device if you use it often, but using Eco Mode and MaxiMZR will help extend usage by automatically changing settings and hard-closing unused apps.


The Kyocera Hydro Edge knows what it is and, more importantly, doesn't try to be more than that. Anyone seeking a high-powered phone should immediately look elsewhere. The device's sole appeal is that it is small and cheap (financially speaking). At only $109.99 full price, the Hydro Edge offers a low-cost entry-level phone for use on a network that doesn't cost much money.

Available on Boost or Sprint, the Kyocera Hydro Edge can be just enough phone without costing too much. It has serious limitations in storage and computing power that may cause an experienced smartphone buyer to be displeased. However, if you need a phone to just be a phone and have solid call quality, it's worth considering. If you need a phone to go on the web and you can tolerate it being slow, this is worth a shot. Anyone needing more than an entry-level phone that provides just the basics with some added waterproof safety should back away from this phone.

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About the author

Andrew Kameka
Andrew is based in Miami, Florida.

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