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printed April 20, 2014
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Review: Kyocera Torque for Sprint

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Screen

The Torque's display measures a tight 4 inches across the diameter and offers but 800 x 480 pixels. Were the screen any bigger, the resolution might be problematic. As it is, the resolution compliments this screen size well, and it looks sharp (enough) for reading text and surfing the web. Brightness levels are adequate, though I found the Torque slightly difficult to read outside under sunny skies. Colors were vibrant and accurate. It’s a good little screen.

Signal

The Torque performs on par with other Sprint devices when it comes to the network. It had no trouble connecting in most places, but rarely showed more than two or three bars (out of five). Despite what the signal indicator read, the Torque was always able to make cellular and PTT voice calls, as well as surf the web. The Torque did not drop any calls, even when the signal indicator showed no bars, and I never missed any calls. (Due to the limited availability of Sprint's LTE 4G network, we were unable to test the Torque on 4G.)

Sound

The Torque has good call quality, for the most part, but there was a hiss audible in the background that bugged me. The earpiece speaker is very good in terms of volume, but I wish it were louder. The speakerphone, however, produces excellent volume. It can easily be heard from several rooms away. The quality of calls sent to the speakerphone was better than the earpiece, as well. The Direct Connect calls I made to other PTT devices sounded quite good - on par with the cellular calls - and volume levels were the same. Thanks to the large speakers on the front of the Torque, ringers and alerts are loud enough to make your neighbor think it’s his phone that's ringing.

Last, the Torque has what Kyocera calls Smart Sonic Receiver technology to make it possible to hear phone calls in even the noisiest environments. The technology eliminates the need for a traditional speaker in a handset, instead using vibrations to transmit sounds directly to the eardrum. Placing the phone in contact with the general area of the ear creates clear sound even in very noisy environments such as construction sites. This tech works automatically, you don't have to do anything to enable it. If you're wearing a helmet, just press the Torque against the helmet and you'll be able to hear calls better. Trust us, it works.

Battery

In a word, excellent. Under normal usage (some calls, texting, surfing the web, reading email, checking the weather, and downloading apps) the Torque easily lasted a day and a half between charges. If used sparingly, it wouldn't surprise me to see the Torque last two full days. For the power-conscious user, the Torque also includes some custom software from Kyocera called MaxiMZR. This settings tool will analyze the owner's usage and limit the background data connection of certain apps (such as email, or Facebook) to help conserve power. The tool takes some time (a week or more) to learn your behavior, and will go so far as to automatically shut down apps that haven't been used at all in several days. EcoMode, another Kyocera app, further helps refine its power consumption by shutting down predetermined apps once the battery reaches XX%. The bottom line here is that the Torque offers great battery life that can be extended into days' worth of use with some customization.

Ruggedization

The Torque is not rated quite as tough as the toughest phones out there, but it is much tougher than standard Android smartphones. It can get wet with no worries and takes a tumble down concrete stairs rather well. I subjected it to a fair amount of abuse, and it held up just fine. It is meant to survive the trials and tribulations of people who live and work outdoors; it won't survive World War III.

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