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Review: Kyocera Brigadier for Verizon Wireless

Form Performance Basics Extras Wrap-up Comments  5  

Screen

The Brigadier is unique in that it is among the first to use sapphire to protect the display. Sapphire is far more resistant to scratching and breakage than even Corning's Gorilla Glass. I took a sharp knife the screen and couldn't make a mark in it. I scratched it with keys, knives, nails, screws, basically anything sharp and pointy I could get my hands on. Nothing left even the slightest mark. Kyocera claims you can throw this in the same pocket with your keys without worry. From our tests, that seems accurate. I smacked the screen with a hammer several times, and threw it down on concrete a lot. The screen didn't break. It's some tough stuff. Does it impact the underlying display?

The Brigadier's screen measures 4.5 inches across the diagonal and it packs 1280 x 720 pixels. The 720p HD resolution works well with this size screen. The pixel density is good enough that most people won't see pixels unless they hold the phone right up to their eyes. Most on-screen elements look sharp and clean. Colors appear a bit muted to my eyes; I wish they were richer. The screen offers plenty of brightness. I was able to see the screen clearly both inside and out, even when wet. Viewing angles are also quite good. It's a fine screen, and the extra protection provided by the sapphire is an added bonus.

Signal

The term "signal hound" is an apt descriptor when discussing the Brigadier's performance on Verizon's LTE 4G network. Seriously, it grabbed hold of Verizon's network and held on for dear life. It never let go. If the Brigadier was a bull rider, it would have won the rodeo. The Brigadier delivered strong performance across signal strengths. It always connected calls on the first dial and never dropped any. Data speeds were solid across the board, and only dipped a little under the weakest network conditions. It delivers excellent network performance.

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Sound

Like many of Kyocera's handsets, the Brigadier uses the company's Sonic Smart Receiver for phone calls. The Smart Sonic Receiver uses vibrations rather than a standard earpiece to deliver voices directly to your head. Phone calls sound good, but fall short of excellent. Quality was solid most of the time, but I've heard clearer calls on other devices. In-call volume was quite good with the phone pressed to your head, but again not the loudest I've heard. I had no trouble hearing calls in all but the loudest environments. Only construction equipment and screaming infants overpowered the Smart Sonic Receiver. It worked fairly well when I held the device up to a helmet, but it wasn't as loud as other Kyocera devices I've tested in this respect. Calls sent to the speakerphone were very good. Quality was comparable to Smart Sonic Receiver and volume was excellent. You can use the Brigadier's speakerphone at home, your office, in the car, wherever you need — and you should be able to hear it just fine. When I called others though the Brigadier, they were impressed with the quality of my voice.

Ringers and alert tones are extremely loud. I never missed a call or message thanks to the noisy notifications. The Brigadier's vibrate alert is good and strong.

Battery

The Brigadier delivered very good battery life. I easily managed to get a full day's use with moderate email, social network, browsing, and media consumption. Using Bluetooth and GPS didn't have a noticeable impact on battery life. In general, the Brigadier did well and should get most people through an entire day without trouble.

The Brigadier includes Kyocera's MaxiMZR and Eco Mode tools to help you further improve battery life; they do help. MaxiMZR analyzes the data usage and can limit the background data consumption of certain apps (such as email or Facebook) to help conserve power. The tool takes at least a few days to learn how you use your apps. Eco Mode helps refine the Brigadier's power consumption by shutting down predetermined services once the battery reaches a predetermined percentage. For example, Eco Mode could be used to turn off automatic email fetch once the battery drops below 20%. Eco Mode has a cool home screen widget that makes it a breeze to setup and use.

Battery  

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