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printed April 23, 2014
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Review: Kyocera DuraPlus for Sprint

Form Basics Extras Wrap-Up Comments  10  

Is It Your Type? Body The Three S's  

The DuraPlus redefines the word "brick." It is hella-huge. The DuraPlus is a bar-style phone that brings rugged, push-to-talk devices to the next level of toughness. It's the type of phone you'd expect to see used by hard-hat wearing manly men sitting on bulldozers or in pickup trucks, sporting a 3-day shadow, and gnawing on an old cigar. It's the bulldog of cell phones.

The DuraPlus is as rectangular as they come. The materials are ultra-dense; strong plastics meant to withstand all sorts of abuse. Everything about the DuraPlus is angular and big. It's narrow from side-to-side, but lengthy from top-to-bottom, giving it an oblong look. The shape makes it easy to grip tightly in a gloved (or bare) hand. How does it feel? Tough as nails. The strength of the materials and quality of the manufacture give the DuraPlus a solid feel that is unequaled. Despite the size, it’s surprisingly light. Will it fit into a pocket? Ha. No, not comfortably, that's for sure. Since it has a flat bottom and can stand upright on a level surface, it's best left on its own, or perhaps attached to a belt clip.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

The front of the DuraPlus includes the display, navigation cluster, and standard numeric keypad. The screen is tiny compared to most phones. All of the buttons have a pleasing, rounded shape to them and they offer excellent travel and feedback. I could easily tell when I was pushing the buttons with gloves on, though I do with they were just a bit bigger.

The navigation cluster includes two function keys, and separate keys for send, end, back, and (yes) the flashlight. The d-pad, which is about the size of a quarter, has a serrated rim that easily catches your thumb. The directionals all have good travel and feedback, as does the ample center button. I really wish the dial pad buttons were a hair bigger, but they worked well enough.

The volume toggle is on the left side of the DuraPlus. It's rather small, but it juts out from the side of the phone enough to make it easy to locate (yes, even with gloves on). Travel and feedback of this button is fantastic. The push-to-talk button is also on the left edge of the phone, right in the center. It’s a large button, has nubs on it for texture, and is rimmed in a semi-reflective yellow paint. There has never been an easier-to-find button on any device, ever. Travel and feedback is only OK, though.

The microUSB charging port is below the PTT button, and is covered by a watertight hatch. The hatch requires some digging to loosen. The same can be said for the 2.5mm headset jack on the right side.

There are two buttons on the top, one for the speakerphone and another to stop PTT sessions. These buttons are a bit nubbish (too round), but have good travel and feedback. Between them is the flashlight. It's not Bat-Signal bright, but it will help you navigate your way out of a pitch-black cave or dungeon-like basement should the need ever arise.

The battery cover is one of those screw-on jobs meant to help protect the DuraPlus from water ingress. It's not a problem to remove. The battery pops out easily and there's no microSD card slot to worry about, because the DuraPlus doesn't have one.

Does the hardware hold up to abuse? You betch'er behind it does. I sank it in my sink, kicked it down my street, jumped up and down on it, and drove over it with my car. It's tough all right; just the sort of phone you need if you’re doing hard work in unforgiving places.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

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