Review: Kyocera DuraForce for AT&T
The DuraForce runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat with a modest skin from Kyocera. The lock screen offers a fair amount of customization. The lock screen will mirror whichever clock widget you've chosen for your home screen. If you don't put a clock on the home screen, the lock screen will still show a simple digital clock. The lock screen also has shortcuts to the camera, phone, and home screen. The home screen panels, of which there are four, behave just like any other Android handset. Kyocera created its own widget — called the Dura Grid — for controlling some of the basic functions, such as brightness, sound, flashlight, and several others. I like that it's easy to customize.
App icons in the app menu are arranged in grids. By default, apps are arranged alphabetically, but you can put them in your preferred order, or arrange apps in folders. The menu doesn't support a list view. Kyocera offers a great selection of widgets (especially for clocks) and several different widgets for the flashlight. (You can also set the PTT button to act as a flashlight button.)
The settings menu functions identically to other Android handsets, but Kyocera gave it a smear of color.
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The notification shade, which is accessible from any app, is the stock version from KitKat and offers a clean list of notifications in addition to basic controls for the radios and other functions.
Kyocera picked Qualcomm's Snapdragon 400 processor to power the DuraForce. Thankfully, it's a 1.4 GHz quad-core job, which is an above-average speed for this chip. I found it was more than adequate to deliver good performance across a variety of apps, even when I ran a whole bunch at the same time. It didn't lag, crash, or feel sluggish at all.
The phone app is a slightly reskinned version of the stock Android dialer. There are tabs across the bottom offering access to recent calls, the dial pad, and menu. There's a separate button above these three tabs to open the contact app. The DuraForce can also be used with AT&T's Enhanced PTT service for walkie-talkie conversations.
The contact app's basic view includes tabs along the top, which separate your entire contact database from your favorites, and from groups. As expected, the app can sync with most any online contact list and does a nice job of integrating with the phone and messaging apps to make your life easier. There are a handful of home screen widgets, too.
Messaging apps are kept to a bare minimum. The DuraForce includes the stock Android SMS app in addition to Gmail, Email, Google+, and Hangouts. The generic email app is no longer necessary because Gmail can handle your AOL, Exchange, Outlook, and Yahoo Mail if you want. You can use either the SMS or Hangouts apps for texting. The SMS app is set as the default, but you can switch it up any time. Hangouts covers SMS and IM, but has a bit of a learning curve.
Aside from Google+, no other social networks are installed. You'll have to snag Facebook, Twitter, and others from the Google Play Store.
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