Review: Kyocera DuraMax for Sprint
Ruggedized clamshells are never subtle phones. Quite often, they're monstrous blocks of hardened plastic and rubber. The DuraMax follows in that vein. For its blocky shape, it still manages to pack in a modern design. There's nothing feminine about this phone; the DuraMax is all masculinity and muscle.
The DuraMax has plenty of right angles forming its edges and sides, which amplify the brick effect. It's a thick phone, not too heavy, but tough to wrap your hand all the way around. It's just a hair under one inch thick. It will not be comfortable to pocket in a pair of tight jeans. No, the DuraMax wants a holster and doesn't care how (un)cool it looks.
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The hinge of the DuraMax is rock solid. It has no side-to-side movement when closed or open, and feels as though it could survive the worst type of abuse. It's very strong, but still flips open easily with spring assistance.
The microUSB port is situated on the left edge of the DuraMax, and is covered by a sturdy rubber hatch. The hatch seals snugly so the DuraMax can be splashed with liquids or submerged a while without danger. The volume toggle is above the hatch, and it protrudes nicely from the side of the phone. The button works well, though it might be difficult to use when wearing gloves because it is a short button. The dedicated PTT button is between the hatch and the toggle. It has the same nice feel, and is easier to find with gloves on. Travel and feedback is a bit weak, though.
The 2.5mm headset jack is on the right side of the DuraMax, near the top corner. It, too, is protected by a sturdy hatch, which seals tight when pushed back into place. The speakerphone button and mute button are both on top. These rectangular buttons are small, but still easy to find and use.
The buttons making up the DuraMax's keypad are fairly large and well spaced,. The keys have a soft-touch feel to them, and good travel and feedback. The navigation cluster centers around a large d-pad, with a golf-ball-dimpled center button. The d-pad feels great to use when navigating menus and options across the screen. The soft keys and send/end keys are a good size and shape, as are the other keys.
In order to achieve its mil-spec rating, the DuraMax's battery cover needs to be water-tight. There's a large switch positioned close to the bottom of the battery cover. Slide it over to unlock the cover. Only then will you be able to pry it off. Unfortunately, you'll also have to remove the battery itself if you want to get at the microSD card slot, which is hidden beneath.
The DuraMax doesn't break any new ground in terms of design or ruggedization. Instead, it treads the same well-worn path in sturdy boots that will get you where you need to go reliably day in and day out.