Review: Kyocera Hydro Elite for Verizon Wireless
The Kyocera Hydro Elite bucks the current trend of super-sized smartphone screens. At 4.3 inches across the diagonal, the Elite's display is fairly compact. Toss in 1280 x 720 pixels, and you've got a respectable screen that offers an attractive pixel density. I thought the screen was bright and sharp. Pixels are packed tightly enough that spotting individual pixels is difficult at best. Colors are accurate, and there's no color shift or brightness drop off when the phone is tilted side-to-side. For what it is, the Elite has a nice little display.
The Elite did very well on Verizon's network in the metro NYC region. I'd say it performed above par when compared to other devices I've tested recently. It remained on Verizon's LTE network throughout my review period. It always connected calls on the first dial, and never dropped or missed any. Data speeds were good, but not the best I've seen from a Verizon phone. They were consistent, though, even in weak coverage areas. At the end of the day, I can say with confidence that the Elite is smitten with Verizon's network and holds on tightly.
The Elite is a great voice phone. The quality and volume of calls was very good in most instances. Every now and then I heard some interference - most often in the form of static - that interrupted my conversations. The Elite 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 Elite against the helmet and you'll be able to hear calls better. Trust us: it works.
The speakerphone offers about the same call quality as the regular phone, but not quite as much volume as I'd like. It works fine in quiet spaces, but not noisy ones. Ringers and alert tones could have been a bit louder, but the vibrate alert produced plenty of buzz.
I was not overly impressed with the Elite's battery life, despite the presence of Kyocera's MaxiMZR and Eco Mode. Without these two tools enabled, I was barely getting a day out of the Elite's battery. With moderate email, social network, browsing, and media consumption, the Elite was gasping for breath after just 12 hours. Using MaxiMZR and Eco Mode helped a bit. MaxiMZR 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. Eco Mode - another Kyocera app - further helps refine its power consumption by shutting down predetermined apps once the battery reaches a predetermined percentage. I found that the Elite needed both MaxiMZR and Eco Mode to provide what I'd call "good" battery life (from 7AM to 11PM or later).