Sprint has been planning the phaseout of the IDEN push-to-talk network that it acquired with its Nextel purchase for a long time, and the Kyocera DuraCore is the third handset to ride on the carrier's faster Direct Connect network, coming just after the Kyocera DuraMax and the Motorola Admiral. Like the DuraMax, the DuraCore is functional and easy to keep a grip on, encased in hard rubber. The DuraCore is the more minimalist of the two, however. It lacks the more ambitious DuraMax's camera, microSD card slot, and ability to withstand a 30-minute dunking. The DuraCore costs $69.99 with a new, two-year service agreement.
Editors' note: Due to their similarity, this review focuses on differences between the DuraCore and DuraMax phones. For more details, please see the DuraMax review.
Black and covered in Kyocera's thick, strategically ribbed, rubberized Dura-Grip material, the DuraCore is rugged by design, and its flip-up form will appeal to longtime Nextel users. Certified Military Standard 810G, the DuraCore is resistant to shock, dust, and vibration. At 3.9 inches tall by 2 inches wide by 0.9 inch thick, it's chunky, but that's what you want for use on delivery routes and construction sites, for example, and the 4.4-ounce weight isn't too heavy.
A silver-colored plate incorporates the speaker grille on the front of the phone, right above the 1-inch monochrome outer display, with its 96x64-pixel resolution. The display shows the time, battery strength, signal meter, and missed messages and alerts.
In keeping with the theme of durability and shielding the delicate internals from the rough elements, the DuraCore's external features are either rubberized buttons that rise from the surface for easy pressing, or ports secured with flaps. The 2.5mm headset jack is on the right spine, and the volume rocker, PTT button, and Micro-USB charging port are on the left spine. Up top are buttons for speaker and for pulling up a calling list. On the back of the phone, the battery cover is secured with a sliding lock. Unlike on the DuraMax, there is no microSD card slot for expandable memory.
Flip the DuraCore open on its thick hinge to reveal the 2-inch QVGA TFT display with 240x320-pixel resolution. Below the screen are large, bubbly buttons for soft-key navigation, Web, Back, OK, Talk, Speaker, and End/Power. The buttons surround a large, silver, circular directional pad.