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Review: Kyocera Hydro Vibe for Sprint

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The Vibe runs Android 4.3 Jelly Bean with a thin user interface skin from Kyocera. Most of the basics are unchanged from stock Android and many UI elements are carried over from other Kyocera devices. The Vibe has a number of features and apps seen on other Sprint handsets, as well.

The lock screen offers four shortcuts thanks to a nifty little unlocking tool. A key appears in the center of the screen. Users need to flick it outward to one of four different shortcuts, including the phone, camera, messaging, and home screen. The notification shade is also visible from the lock screen.

The notification shade doesn't include toggles for the radios, but has a shortcut to the main settings menu and of course notifications. I actually like the simpler look of the Vibe's notification shade. The lack of tools and controls means you can actually see your notifications. Some phone makers stuff so many controls into the notification shade that you can barely see any alerts.

The Vibe has five home screen panels out of the box, three of which are packed with shortcuts and widgets. Naturally, users can adjust the home screens however they see fit. The main app menu is a grid of apps that can be viewed as an alphabetical grid or a custom grid. It cannot be viewed as a list. Apps can be placed in folders on the home screen or in the app menu. I like that the app menu has a magic reset button that will automatically resort the apps into alpha order.

The settings tools are stock Android in terms of layout, but are dressed up with icons and colors unique to Kyocera. The settings offer users control over the device's network access, accounts, personalization tools, and so on. One extra feature offered by Kyocera is Starter Mode, which dramatically simplifies the look and functionality of the user interface for new users. Kyocera recommends Starter Mode for first-time Android users, but keep in mind that it loses some of the more interesting features of the OS, such as home screen widgets. Starter Mode is found under the "Home Mode" heading in the settings menu.

The Vibe has a quad-core 1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor. Every phone I've tested with this processor inside performed well, and the Vibe is no exception. I didn't see any lagging or trouble loading apps. The phone was smooth and free of problems. The one thing I did notice is that the Vibe was perhaps a little slower when it came to downloading and installing applications. Otherwise, the Snapdragon 400 provided more than enough oomph to push the Vibe along.


Calls and Contacts

The phone app is mostly unaltered from the stock version. There are tabs across the top offering access to the dialpad, call log, and contacts. The dialpad is nice and big, and the in-call tools are rather neat. The speakerphone, mute function, and Bluetooth radio all have distinct on/off switches that make them easy to decipher and use when in the middle of a call.


The contact app includes its own tabbed home screen, which separates you contaact groups, from your favorites, and from the entire database. Individual contact cards can hold tons of data and sync seamlessly with pretty much any account you care to use. There are several home screen widgets, too, as well as the ability to put direct actions to select contacts on the home screen.



The Kyocera Hydro Vibe includes all the same messaging apps found on the Sprint versions of the HTC One and Galaxy S5. Most of the messaging functions are Google's services, such as Gmail, Google+, Hangouts, and so on. All the Google apps work without issue, just like on every other Android device.

Sprint has set the stock Android messaging app as the default for SMS/MMS. Since Google now lets Android device owners pick which app they want to use for SMS, you can ditch the stock app if you want and use the Google+ Hangouts instead. Hangouts combines SMS and instant messaging.

Sprint also included Messaging+, a third-party messaging app that can handle SMS/MMS, as well as Facebook messages and Twitter DMs. It's a little clunky, but may consolidate most your messaging into a single app.

Neither Facebook nor Twitter is pre-installed, so you'll have to download them from the Play Store yourself.



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