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Hands On with the Kyocera Hydro Icon

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Jun 19, 2014, 9:13 PM   by Rich Brome
updated Jun 23, 2014, 3:59 PM

Kyocera's popular Hydro series of water-resistant phones recently gained a new sibling with the Hydro Icon, which is pretty much a Hydro Vibe that's shock-resistant, so it can survive clumsy hands. Since the body differs a bit from the Vibe, we wanted to share our hands-on impressions.

The Hydro Vibe is a solidly mid-range Android phone. It has an 8-megapixel shooter, front camera, NFC, and 4G LTE. It also happens to be water-resistant. Sprint and Virgin offer it.

Sprint owns both Virgin and Boost, and Boost used to be the prepaid home of those iDEN walkie-talkie phones that many people would associate with Nextel. Since a number of Boost customers still look for that type of rugged phone, Sprint decided to appease them with the Hydro Icon for Boost.

Hydro Icon  

Hence, the Hydro Icon was born. It takes the guts of the Vibe and adds impact-absorbing material around the frame to help it survive drops. In fact, it's military-standard rated for shock resistance.

The Icon feels very similar to the Vibe, just a tad larger, rounder, and more solid. The side and back materials feel similar between the two. They feel quite plastic, but also quite high-quality.

The way the side plastic meets the glass is a bit more comfortable on the Icon, and the back texture has diagonal grooves that I found felt slightly more refined, yet just as grippy as on the Vibe.

The back cover is the very common plastic peel-off type, but it feels extremely snug and tight for a cover held in place with only tiny plastic claws. It can be removed easily when you want, yet doesn't feel like it will come loose accidentally. Further, it has an unusually thick rubber gasket to keep the internals dry. It would take testing to be sure, but my first impression is that the back cover is better-designed than most of its type; it inspires confidence.

Sadly, the Icon loses the dedicated camera key found on the Vibe.

Vibe vs. Icon  

Otherwise, the Icon is quite similar to the Vibe. We liked the Hydro Vibe in our our full review of it. The Icon should be all of that, plus you might not need a case for it.

About the author, Rich Brome:

Editor in Chief Rich became fascinated with cell phones in 1999, creating mobile web sites for phones with tiny black-and-white displays and obsessing over new phone models. Realizing a need for better info about phones, he started Phone Scoop in 2001, and has been helming the site ever since. Rich has spent two decades researching and covering every detail of the phone industry, traveling the world to tour factories, interview CEOs, and get every last spec and photo Phone Scoop readers have come to expect. As an industry veteran, Rich is a respected voice on phone technology of the past, present, and future.


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