Review: Kyocera DuraXV LTE for Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless customers who need a crazy tough handset that not only braves, but conquers, the elements need look no further than the Kyocera DuraXV LTE. This rugged flip phone may offer a limited set of features, but it delivers excellent performance across core tools. Here is Phone Scoop's in-depth review.
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Is It Your Type?
The Kyocera DuraXV LTE is a rugged flip phone sold by Verizon Wireless. If you need a no-frills, hella-tough feature phone, this new DuraXV can handle all sorts of abuse and still make the call and the end of the day.
Note that while the DuraXV LTE looks a lot like the older DuraXV, they're actually quite different in terms of software and the most important internal hardware. It's important to not confuse the two phones.
Ruggedized flip phones don't vary much in their design. The DuraXV LTE by Kyocera is a chunky block of hardened plastic that looks like it first hit store shelves in 2005. The oversized chassis protects the inner components and calls to mind the hard-hatted workers who typically carry such phones.
The exterior of the phone is matte black all around. The plastic of the framing has a grippy texture to it, while the side and rear surfaces have large ribs to help your skin find purchase. Subtle v-shaped lines form design elements on the top of the phone to let you know this is a Verizon handset. The only dash of color is the red accent that circles the action key on the phone's left side. The DuraXV LTE is science fiction-y yet retro at the same time.
The DuraXV LTE measures more than an inch thick. The puckish nature of the phone makes it easy to hold and and use. I had no trouble wrapping my mits all the way around it. The phone is too thick to be very pocket-friendly. It does fit in coat pockets well. A holster might be a good idea if you don't mind that look.
You'll find no finely-wrought aluminum frame or glass panels here. The DuraXV is put together with the tough-as-nails materials needed to ensure it meets mil-spec standards for abuse. The hinge between the two halves is particularly strong. I was sure to drop the DuraXV on tile, concrete, asphalt, rocks, and other surfaces to test its mettle; it survived with no issues.
The chassis pieces are fitted seamlessly in order to give the phone its IP68 rating for protection against water ingress. Sitting in snow is no problem for the DuraXV. I found the phone doesn't get slippery when wet, which is good news if you're caught using it during a rainstorm. The DuraXV delivers the brawny performance today's field force workers and outdoor adventurers demand.
The outer front of the phone is typical for a flip. A small, monochrome display is centered on the surface. The top half of the flip is a bit shorter than the bottom half, which gives the phone a bit of a chin that sticks out when the phone is closed.
On the left you'll find the volume toggle and action key. The toggle is rather small and the profile is not that great. I didn't have trouble using it bare-handed, but it's harder to find and use with gloves on. Travel and feedback are rather mushy. The action key has a raised plastic frame that makes the button easier to find by feel. It has much better action than the volume toggle.
Two small buttons adorn the top: one for the speakerphone and one for end/silence. Each button is hardly more than a nub. The profiles make them relatively easy to find with bare fingers, but harder to locate when wearing gloves. Travel and feedback are good.
Need to charge the phone or plug in headphones? Two separate hatches for these are tucked into the right side. Both hatches are substantial and require some digging with your thumbnail to loosen. Make sure you fully seal them up to retain the phone's resistance to water. The phone supports standard 3.5mm headphones and relies on microUSB for charging.
An angled groove separates the top and bottom halves of the phone. It's large enough that's it's easy to pop the DuraXV open. The hinge is spring-assisted, so the top will snap open on its own once you push it far enough. Similar to the external display, the main display is framed in v-shaped lines and sandwiched between the chrome logos of Verizon and Kyocera.
The physical keypad has a typical layout as far as the buttons are concerned. A chrome d-pad is perched just under the hinge. The four main arrow keys are all easy enough to find and use thanks to the angled ridge of the circular button. The action button in the middle has a rounded, nub-like shape so it stands out from the d-pad itself. Seven buttons surround the d-pad, including two function keys, a camera key, a microphone key, and send, clear, and end keys. These buttons feature a gentle curve that helps differentiate them a bit as your thumb moves across. The 12 keys that make up the number pad all share an identical size and shape. The buttons are spaced well and I didn't have any trouble finding the numbers by feel. Wearing gloves does get in the way a bit.
The rear panel is criss-crossed by curved ribs. A dimpled pattern lines the edges of the battery cover. Like many rugged flip phones, the battery cover has a firm latch to ensure a watertight seal. You'll need a coin to loosen it enough to remove the cover. The SIM and memory cards are buried under the battery. Copper contacts on the rear panel allow the phone to charge in a cradle or dock.
The Kyocera DuraXV is everything I expect from a ruggedized flip phone: it's brutish, bold, and beefy.
The DuraXV LTE has two displays: a basic monochrome panel on the outer face and a full-color main screen under the flip.
The monochrome display measures 1 inch across the diagonal with 102 by 90 pixels. For what it is, it does a fine job. I had no trouble viewing the small screen to check the time indoors and out. It's quite visible under bright, sunny skies.
The full color screen measures 2.6 inches across the diagonal and includes 320 by 240 pixels. It's not what you'd call sharp. The individual pixels are plainly visible and most text and graphics show pixelated edges. The screen puts out a reasonable amount of light. I was able to use the phone outdoors without issue. Colors skew a bit cold, meaning whites often look blue. Viewing angles are fine. For a non-smartphone like this, I don't think you can expect much more.
The DuraXV LTE can run on both Verizon's legacy CDMA 3G network and its LTE 4G data network. Phones like this don't necessarily need LTE 4G today for most functions, but it's important for future-proofing. Verizon does plan to phase out 3G in a few years. When that happens, this phone will still work, whereas the older DuraXV will not.
The DuraXV LTE connected to Verizon's network without problem. It remained connected to LTE 4G the entire time I tested it; I never saw the phone drop to 3G. The phone consistently connected calls on the first dial and held conversations over miles of highway driving without a single drop.
On the data side, the DuraXV performed admirably. Given the limitations of the flip phone software, you're not going to use the XV LTE to stream Spotify or YouTube. That said, the phone's browser loaded web sites quickly enough. More importantly, the DuraXV can serve as a mobile hotspot, providing an LTE connection to laptops and other devices. In this capacity, it performed really well.
The phone also supports global roaming if you happen to travel overseas.
I was impressed with the DuraXV LTE's performance as a voice phone. Normal calls taken via the earpiece are loud and clear. You can easily hear calls in noisy spaces, such as coffee shops or windy city streets. Clarity is quite good and the speaker maintains a clean sound even when pushed all the way up.
The speakerphone — that shiny black grille on the phone's chin — is crazy loud. It's beyond loud enough for holding calls in a moving car. You can easily set it on the table in a good-sized meeting room and use it for a group speaker call. More importantly, it keeps clarity in check at the loudest volumes. Kyocera did a great job engineering the DuraXV LTE's voice call capabilities.
Ringers and alerts can be set to jarringly loud volumes, but the vibrate alert could be a lot better.
The battery tucked in the DuraXV LTE may be small, but it's mighty. The 1,580mAh lithium-ion power cell may sound small, but this feature flip doesn't need that much juice to put the Energizer Bunny to shame. Battery life is measured in days, not hours. With typical usage, you should see 2.5 days of uptime. Even after putting the DuraXV LTE through intense use, it still lasted nearly 2 full days. The battery gets the job done.
Bluetooth, GPS, NFC, WiFi
The phone includes Bluetooth and WiFi. The Bluetooth radio is pretty basic. I was able to connect to mono headphones and my car's hands-free system. It can take calls and they sound decent. There's no phone-book access, nor stereo Bluetooth for music.
The WiFi is quite good. You can rely on it at home, or make use of it as a mobile hotspot so other devices can connect to Verizon's LTE 4G network. I will say that entering access point passwords via the numeric keypad is a pain in the butt.
The external display includes a large clock with the date, and status indicators such as battery and signal strength. Incoming messages and calls will light it up, as will other notifications such as calendar alerts. You can scroll through messages, notifications, your missed call history using a combination of the top-right button and the volume toggle.
As for actual security, you can implement a PIN to lock the handset. Using this requires you to punch in the code on the dial pad every time you flip the phone open.
The DuraXV has a the kind of limited software experience you'd expect from a non-smartphone. Believe it or not, the phone's software is technically based on Android (AOSP). But it wouldn't be accurate to call this an "Android phone", because there's no way to download new Android apps (most wouldn't work without a touchscreen anyway.)
There's one simple home screen, and it shows a large clock with the day and date on top of whatever wallpaper you've selected. The status bar lines the top of the screen and an unchangeable set of app shortcuts lines the bottom (contacts, menu, messages). You can assign the d-pad buttons to open select apps, such as the gallery by pressing left or the browser by pressing right. Pressing the center button on the d-pad opens the full menu.
The main menu includes just nine options: call log, messages, contacts, gallery, media center, email, browser, notifications, and tools/settings. Each of these does more or less what you expect. The call log allows you to manage all your voice calls. The gallery lets you tap into the photos and videos you may have captured with the phone or stored on a memory card.
The phone uses Verizon's MyMessages service, which supports a bit more than standard text messages (think read receipts, etc.) One bonus is that this service works over WiFi and syncs with your desktop/tablet.
The web browser is pathetic as a browsing tool, despite its speed.
I want to talk about email for a second. The phone supports AOL, Yahoo, Outlook, and Exchange email, and you can sign in with your Google account, too. The Exchange client includes business-grade email, calendar, and contacts syncing. I tapped into my work email account and was able to manage my essential PIM data quite easily with the DuraXV LTE. This is a bonus if you need to use the DuraXV LTE for work. I wouldn't suggest you file TPS reports via the DuraXV LTE, but at least you can triage your inbox.
Under the "tools" menu you'll find essentials such as the calculator, alarm, timer, stopwatch world clock, notepad, and flashlight. The "media" menu includes basic music and video players. You'll have to sideload your own music and movies, and it will all have to be DRM-free. There's no FM radio. The phone includes a sound recorder, file manager, and access to your stuff in the Verizon Cloud.
The phone supports a handful of voice commands. Quick-press the microphone button and you can bark commands such as "call home" or "send text" or "look up [name]" and the DuraXV LTE will do just that. It's a rudimentary tool. Still, it can work in a pinch.
It's a shame you can't use voice to dictate messages or emails; that would be super-handy given the limits of a numeric keypad for entering text.
Believe it or not, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 processor powers this phone. It has 2 GB of memory and boasts 16 GB of storage. The DuraXV LTE runs smoothly, for a feature phone.
The camera and gallery apps are basic. A quick press of the dedicated camera button launches the camera app. It takes about 2 seconds to open, which is a hair slow. You have three options from the viewfinder: go to the gallery, take a photo, or take a video. That's it. The phone takes a good 2 seconds to capture and save images. It feels laggy.
You can control just a few facets of the camera app. For example, you can choose continuous autofocus or set the focus to infinity, you can control image resolution, as well as adjust the flash, timer, review period, and shutter sounds.
The bare-bones camera barely makes its bones.
The DuraXV LTE captures images up to 5 megapixels in size. It's best to use the autofocus feature. Images range from soft to sharp, from over- to underexposed, and from blue to yellow in hue. Most of the time pictures are passable, but you'll surely get some stinkers here and there. Don't even bother taking pictures in low light. This isn't a phone for shutterbugs, so I'm not surprised at the mediocre camera. If you want to take a selfie, turn the phone around and say "cheese!"
The DuraXV LTE shoots video up to 720p resolution. It's acceptable for basic videography, but you need a lot of light for the best results. The footage I captured was overly grainy and dull looking.
If you want to take good photos/videos of important events for a lifetime of memories don't use the DuraXV LTE.
Kyocera kicked out a basic brute in the DuraXV LTE. This no-frills handset is as rugged as they come. The phone looks like it was carved out of coal thanks to its chunky, matte-black profile. It handles extreme abuse, including deep dunks in the pool, better than most.
The phone crushes the core performance metrics. Call clarity is excellent, signal performance is great, and battery life is awesome. Toss in extras such as WiFi and PTT calling options and the DuraXV LTE is a capable communications powerhouse.
I wish there was more to the software experience. The phone, sold by Verizon, is limited to just the most simple in terms of apps and features. There are no apps for the phone beyond those installed by Verizon. You won't even find Kyocera's outdoorsy apps.
If you need a phone that pushes through punishment and makes calls under the worst conditions, the Kyocera DuraXV LTE is your ticket to talk time.
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Kyocera DuraXV LTE with camera , KYOCERA & VERIZON ….
I relied heavily on reviews about this phone… and I really need to let others know the truth about it. Readers need to know not to make the same mistake at purchasing an overpriced defective device that is NOTHING like it is advertised to be; and that there is no true support or help with this phone & company to fix and or replace it when there are problems, even when it is still brand new! Kyocera customer service was rude and unwilling to take any responsibility for having a defective phone and were very cold and callous. There were very high costs to send the phone back for just evaluation, customers pay all shipping. Verizon similar except some said they would help but ...
Warning: (**very important negative aspects of Kyocera DuraXV LTE with camera, Kyocera & Verizon):
Warning: (**very important negative aspects of this phone, Kyocera & Verizon):
I relied almost completely on reviews about this phone… and I really need to let others know the truth about it and the **lack of-poor customer service with *Kyocera & *Verizon! Readers need to know not to make the same mistake at purchasing an **overpriced defective device that is nothing like it is advertised to be; and that there is **no support or help with this phone & company to fix and or replace it when there are problems, even when it is still brand new! Kyocera customer service was **rude and unwilling to take any responsibility for having a de...
2. Look on any forum and Kyoc...