There's no doubt that the Kyocera DuraPlus is one tough cookie. When I wrote about its introduction in March, I admitted that I couldn't wait to get one in for review just so I could knock it around.
Although its plastic and rubber makes it an awfully unattractive device, this handset certainly can withstand a beating--making it perfect for extra-tough lifestyles. With its push-to-talk feature, military specs, and LED flashlight, it's especially useful for those working in construction or field operations. It is available on Sprint's network for $69.99, after sending in a $50 mail-in rebate and signing a two-year contract.
The Kyocera DuraPlus is 5.28 inches long, 2.17 inches wide, and 0.93 inch thick. Yup, you read that right, it's nearly an inch thick. It also weighs 6.67 ounces, so it's not lightweight. Indeed, it feels heavy in the hand and could barely fit inside my jean pocket, and when I talked for a couple of minutes with the phone between face and shoulder, I felt like I was pinning a rubber brick to my face.
I do get that the device is designed to satisfy military specs, which results in a few aesthetic limitations. But outside of construction workers and extreme sports enthusiasts, I just can't see anyone using this handset day to day like a normal phone without finding it cumbersome. It is possible to make a rugged phone that doesn't look like a chew toy that can withstand the apocalypse, but this device is not such a phone.
On the bottom left side of the DuraPlus is a Micro-USB port that can be covered by a thick plastic door. Above that is a pimple-like Direct Connect Button outlined in yellow and above that is a bulbous volume rocker. At the top of the phone are the speaker button and the call list button, with an LED flashlight in between. On the right is a 2.5mm headset jack, which also is covered by an attached plastic door.
On the back of the device there are two screws near the top, sealing in the remote speaker microphone. The 1,650mAh battery sits below that and is locked underneath its own cover. You can twist this cover open with a coin. Lastly, below the battery are the two yellow-rimmed power connectors.
The handset's QVGA 2-inch screen has a resolution of 240x320 pixels. Because the display is so elementary, few colors can be displayed. Texts appear pixelated and images are streaky and grainy. In fact, the interface feels like it's straight out of 2000.
Above the display are the earpiece in the center and an LED indicator to the right. Below the display are two soft keys and a circular navigation control with a menu/OK button in its middle. To the left of the navigation control is a shortcut key to turn on the flashlight and the talk button; to the right are the back button and the End/power key. Below the entire set is your standard set of alphanumeric keys, and below that are the speaker and microphone. Given how big the phone is, you would think the number keys would be just as big, but they're actually quite small. Although they're bulbous, making them easy to feel, they're tiny compared with the rest of the phone, which made it a little difficult to type out numbers and letters.
The Kyocera DuraPlus is built to military-grade specifications, which means it is shock-, dust-, and splash-proof. It can operate under extreme temperatures, humidity, and solar radiation. What's more, you can submerge it in up to a meter of water for 30 minutes.
Since it's not a smartphone, it doesn't have any applications installed. It does, however, include some bare-bones task-management features, such as T9 text messaging, a calendar, an alarm clock, a stopwatch, a calculator, a world clock feature, Bluetooth capabilities, and a phone book that can store a maximum of 600 contacts. The handset can hold up to 256MB of internal storage, and doesn't have a microSD slot.
There's a My Account feature that tells you your plan minutes and balance, and a My Stuff folder that keeps track of all your purchased games, ringtones, and screen savers.
The DuraPlus also has a turn-by-turn GPS navigation feature that you have to log in to with your e-mail to use the first time. When you access it, you can enter or search for your destination by either typing it in or speaking the address out loud. I recommend typing because when you choose to say your destination, your DuraPlus will call activate the Telenav and route you to some automated robot that will make you spend the next 10 minutes of your life shouting "Bryant Street" because it just "didn't get that."