Kyocera Torque Review
Direct Connect and Push-To-Talk devices have always been Sprints bread and butter. The issue has been that these phones have often lacked internals that would be considered relatively modern. The Kyocera Torque is a smartphone built for the rough and tumble world, made in a thick plastic shell that’s water, vibration and shock proof. All of this running a very lightly skinned version of Android as well.
As you have seen with past phones, the durability tradeoff usually comes at the price of vanity and specs. The point here being that if you are buying this phone for the aforementioned reasons then vanity is the last thing you care about. Does the Kyocera Torque stand up to everything it’s made out to be? Find out in the full review.
The Kyocera Torque is all about being a tough phone first. While this is the case you can’t go wrong with the included internals. You have a 1.2 GHz dual core Snapdragon S4 processor, 1GB of RAM, and 4GB of storage (expandable by Micro SD card). You have a WVGA (480×800) 4 inch display with a removable 2500 mAh battery which should get you through the day no problem.
As mentioned before the Torque is all about taking a beating and its construction helps with that immensely. The entire phone is encased in a hard plastic but the back battery cover is made of a rubbery, grippy material that makes holding the phone, even when wet, very easy to do. While this phone won’t win any thin contests it does a great job of being overall a small device.
Starting with the left side you have a large yellow Direct Connect Button which when pressed will take you to your Direct Connect history within the phone dialer. On that side you have a volume rocker. On top you have a dedicated speaker phone button on the left, a 3.5 mm headphone jack with waterproofing rubber in the middle and your power/lock key to the right side. The right is only comprised of a dedicated camera shutter button while the bottom has a micro USB port with a rubber flap for more water and dust protection.
The back cover is one again made of a grippy yet rubbery plastic. You can remove it by twisting and unlocking the metal ring. When the cover is removable you have access to the 2500 mAh removable battery, SIM card and SD card slot. There is a red rubber gasket to protect the battery.
Returning to the front of the device you have a large lip that surrounds the screen and a metal ring that seals the edges of the screen. Unlike other phones you will have to get used to having that lip there because at first it might just impede your typing. The Torque comes with three physical Android buttons, BACK, HOME and MENU. Underneath those buttons are two large speaker grills which live up to being very loud in use.
The Torque once again has a 4 inch (480×800) IPS display which in daily use isn’t a problem. What does slowly become an issue, especially if you have come from higher end phones is that the actual panel’s doesn’t seem to be of high quality. I don’t know if it’s a result of the waterproofing but the viewing angles were very poor. Also when browsing or looking at pictures, the colors looked very washed out especially in direct sunlight. This is one of the tradeoffs that you take when getting a rugged phone.
The Torque comes equipped with a 5MP autofocus camera on the back and a front facing VGA camera. It took pretty decent photos which I didn’t have my expectations set very high beforehand. I noticed that it took a while for it to focus before taking a photo which would lend to you taking shots of blurry moving objects or people
You can also record 1080p on the Torque but the default is 720p.
The Torque runs an almost stock version of Android 4.0.4. The only really tweaks done to the software are purely aimed at the fact that this is a rugged phone. Eco Mode and MaxiMZR aim to get the most out of your battery and in my usage they worked as advertised.
In daily use, the Kyocera held up very well in regards to doing all the tasks I wanted it to do. Seeing as it is mid-2013 this phone is clearly a mid-ranged handset. The touch sensitivity left a lot to be desired but overall it was a pleasant experience.
The call quality was just fine and with Kyocera’s “Smart Sonic Receiver” technology which sends sound out of the phone and into your ear, I could hear who I was talking to in the loudest environments. While this is a LTE phone, I live in Las Vegas so I couldn’t test this phone as it should be tested. I was stuck using Sprint’s 3G network which will passable is a less than adequate experience when you are used to the fast networks of LTE. I got around 1-2 MB down and .5-1 MB up when conducting speed tests.
The Kyocera Torque is an interesting value proposition. At 14mm thick it isn’t going to win the thinnest smartphone award but the fact is that many of the thinner, high design phones often end up in cases because they are fragile. The Torque at just $99 offers users a seemingly stock experience with mid-ranged specs and a durable phone that can outlast whatever presumably is thrown its way. Touch sensitivity aside, if you are looking for a phone that can take what the world throws at it, get the Kyocera Torque.