Review: Kyocera Event for Virgin Mobile USA
The Event runs as close to a stock version of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich as I've seen on a Virgin Mobile device. Because Sprint is reducing the presence of user interface skins and bloatware from its Android devices, Virgin Mobile USA customers benefit, too. Only one app betrays the Event as a Virgin/Sprint device at all, and that is Mobile iD.
Mobile iD is Virgin's version of Sprint iD. It can be used to browse, download, and install iD packs. Each iD pack is based on a theme and includes wallpapers, apps, widgets, and so on. Think of it as a way to customize the device with some help from Virgin Mobile.
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The more iD packs you download and install, the more bloatware you'll add to the Event.
That said, the device has only one shortcut on the lock screen, to the camera. It cannot be customized. The Event has five home screen panels installed out of the box, but that can be changed. The main app tray is a grid of icons, which cannot be customized. Aside from access to the main settings menu, the pull-down notification shade doesn't offer any unique features.
As happy as I am to see stock Android available out of the box, I am saddened by the performance of the Event. It has a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S2 processor under the hood. This is an older chip, and you can tell. Granted, Kyocera had to trim somewhere to keep the price down, and the processor is one of those curtailed features. The Event was often stuttery, slow to open apps, and really struggled with network-intensive applications, such as the Play Store and browser.
The phone and contact apps work on the Event just about the same as every other Android 4.0 smartphone thanks to the stock software. In-call options run the norm, and include speakerphone, mute, send to Bluetooth, and add a line. There are the usual home screen widgets for direct contacts, as well as the a nice widget for a collection of your favorites. The bigger widget lets you access your top nine contacts and gives you a cool UI for interacting with them on the home screen.
The Event includes a dedicated "ICE" application. ICE, or In Case of Emergency, makes it easier for people who find your unconscious body to connect with the few most important people in your contact list. It also lets the user populate the app with their own data (home address, etc.) Of course, this app can only be reached when the device is unlocked. If you're the type to use a password or code to lock your phone, then the ICE app is pretty much useless.
As far as messaging goes, the Event has the stock Android tools on board and nothing else. The SMS app offers nice, threaded conversations; the Gmail/email apps are great ways to manage your inbox; the Google+ and Google+ Messenger apps are good for keeping up with your G+ activity; and the Google Talk app is as powerful as ever for IM and video chats.
Neither Facebook nor Twitter is pre-installed, so you'll have to download them from the Play Store yourself.
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Sprint's prepaid brands, Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile, plan to sell three low-cost smartphones in the weeks ahead, including the Kyocera Hydro Reach. The Reach (pictured) is an update to the Hydro Edge.