Kyocera DuraForce Ultra 5G UW review: extreme durability for an extreme price

The Kyocera DuraForce Ultra 5G is a sturdy phone that doesn’t have to give up too much of modern convenience to get the benefits of great durability. Rugged phones usually have older processors and don’t have the latest features. These phones have special uses, such as barcode scanning or payment, and often have to keep working in harsh environments. DuraForce Ultra 5G includes all of the rugged phone durability and the latest features such as 5G, wireless charging, high-quality processors and dual rear cameras. It’s an expensive phone for $899. You can get a very nice non-rugged phone, but if durability is a must and you don’t want to sacrifice performance or convenience features, the DuraForce 5G is (literally) the obvious choice. Good Stuff Extremely durable wireless charging Bright screen A camera that lacks programmable buttons that can be easily pressed in the event of a bad stuff accident Kyocera DuraForce Ultra 5G Rugged features When you choose DuraForce Ultra 5G, you’ll know right away that you have a solid device in your hand. The top and bottom of the phone are wrapped in thick plastic bumpers, the sides have a textured finish, and at 278g (9.8oz) it’s much heavier than a regular smartphone. The screen itself is just a 5.45-inch 1080p LCD panel, but the oversized bezel and thick chin make it an overall chunky device. Despite its size, the screen itself is relatively small, so it is actually easy to use with one hand. The phone fits in a jacket pocket, but it’s too bulky to fit in a jeans pocket. Haptics are offensive even in the “medium” default setting, so they are useful on mobile phones that can be used with gloves. Otherwise, you can lower or turn off touch vibration. This phone is rated IP65 and IP68 to prevent water intrusion caused by jets and immersion (up to 6.5 feet for up to 30 minutes). DuraForce Ultra 5G meets military standard 810H specifications and includes protection against vibration, dust and sandblasting, extreme temperatures, falling over concrete from 5 feet high, high altitude and many other hostile conditions. Aside from the minor scratches I got from my driving test, the DuraForce Ultra 5G shrugged my efforts and worked fine. I couldn’t test it for all conditions, but it exposed my phone to a lot of abuse, including: Stay in the freezer for an hour, soak it in water for 30 minutes in the kitchen sink, and drop it onto the driveway asphalt at about 5 feet after exposure to the sand. Aside from the minor scratches I got from the driveway test, the DuraForce Ultra 5G shrugged my efforts and worked fine. Kyocera includes a two-year warranty with your purchase, so you shouldn’t risk your purchase as long as you use your phone within conditions that you can withstand. In addition to its rugged features, the DuraForce Ultra 5G is equipped with only buttons. It has a power button with a built-in fingerprint sensor, three programmable keys, and a large-capacity rocker that is easy to press while wearing gloves. When holding the phone, I accidentally pressed one of the programmable buttons frequently. It’s easy to reach when using the phone, but that unfortunately means pressing a lot of unintended buttons. This button requires a long press to call up the assigned shortcut function, so a short press does nothing. If you don’t want to use it, you can also set it to “do nothing” when pressed. Kyocera DuraForce Ultra 5G Aside from the obvious differences in screen, performance and battery appearance and ergonomics, DuraForce Ultra 5G handles it in much the same way as any other Android device. Compared to standard displays, the contrast of the screen looks slightly lower. Perhaps because the panels are optimized for viewing in bright sunlight. This may be more important to the target user of the phone than to a rich multimedia viewing experience, and the panel can actually be used in very bright direct sunlight. The protective “Sapphire Shield” on the screen was scratch-free during testing, but it detects reflections from the outside more easily than other phones using Gorilla Glass. It wasn’t enough to bother me, but anyone who wants to use the phone outside in bright lighting can often feel distracted. DuraForce Ultra 5G comes with Android 10. Kyocera has said it will provide an update for 11, but the duration is still being decided. Android 10 is fine for now, but given that Google is preparing Android 12 for the masses, it’s definitely a step behind. Kyocera has said it will provide at least two years of security updates, which is not a very generous policy, but it is common. This model works on both the popular sub-6 GHz frequency and the harder to find, but much faster mmWave spectrum. The DuraForce Ultra 5G uses a Snapdragon 765G processor with 6GB of RAM, making the overall performance on par with a mid-range phone. I get some stuttering when I quickly scroll through the screen with lots of images and videos, and there is a noticeable pause after taking a picture in the camera app, but other than that, it stays fine. This is especially the case considering the low performance bar of the rugged class. The DuraForce Ultra 5G has a built-in 4,500mAh battery. It’s a relatively large battery for my class and I’ve used it a lot throughout the day. This phone supports Qi wireless charging, which is not common in rugged phones. The phone was a bit tricky on my stand-alone Belkin wireless charger, but it worked when I ended up setting it horizontally on the charger. Of course, there is 5G, one of the features named after the DuraForce Ultra 5G. This model works on the popular sub-6 GHz frequency and hard to find, but much faster mmWave spectrum (also called Ultra Wideband in Verizon, so called UW in the phone’s name). Sold only through Verizon in the U.S., the company is pushing mmWave much more strongly than other major carriers, and it’s still relatively scarce but offers more coverage. Verizon’s 5G network is a bit sluggish overall for now, but it will improve over the next few years. It’s a great feature if you’re on a phone that you want to hang on for a while, but don’t buy this just for mmWave as you can have a hard time finding the signal anyway. . Kyocera DuraForce Ultra 5G Camera DuraForce Ultra’s rear camera array consists of a 24 megapixel f/1.8 standard wide and a 16 megapixel f/2.2 ultra wide and time-of-flight sensor. There is an 8 megapixel f/2.0 selfie camera on the front. That’s a lot higher than what’s available on many sturdy phones. Taking pictures is likely not the top priority of the DuraForce Ultra owners, and the image quality certainly doesn’t fall short of what you’d find on a conventional $900 phone, but it works fine. A photo with good grid lighting looks fine if the contrast is low and there are some faded sides. The exposure and color can vary noticeably between two images taken with the same camera at slightly different angles, and I’ve noticed weird omissions here and there, such as blurry shots of static subjects that the camera seems to be trying to apply too much HDR. . But for the most part, in bright light, photos are perfectly fine and are much higher than you would expect from a sturdy phone. There is also a mode that overlays real-time information about the extremes occurring, including location, altitude, speed, and gravity, onto a still image or video. I haven’t really tested it during the second trimester, as it usually doesn’t recommend extreme activities. If you’re into something like mountain biking or climbing and want to record that kind of information along with your activity, there’s probably already a better way. Anyway it’s there, and it’s definitely a casual and fun feature rather than a practical one. If you’re just curious about living a solid phone lifestyle, the DuraForce Ultra 5G isn’t for you. The phone’s very sturdy specs will appeal to anyone who’s nervous about dropping their phone, or sometimes bringing their phone to harsh environments like beach or backcountry camping. If that’s you, spend $900 on a good standard phone (many IP68 rated) and a sturdy case. Get better performance, better cameras, and timely software updates. Basically, you can get a lot more for money. It cuts more than the rest of the class, including 5G, wireless charging and processing power, making it a great tool on and off the job site. If you need a sturdy phone on the front line, first aid or on a construction site, for example, the DuraForce Ultra 5G makes much more sense. Especially if it will be your main phone at work and you really like the extra bells and whistles. It includes 5G, wireless charging and processing power, which makes it a great tool on and off the job site, which is far superior to the rest of the class. However, $900 is a huge amount to spend on a phone, and I think a very specific kind of customer for this phone is a very small group. For about the same price as Kyocera’s DuraForce model launched last year, you can buy a less expensive rugged phone with more limited features, such as a great mid-range phone. Perhaps you can’t get mmWave 5G that way, but it’s not a big loss. Nevertheless, DuraForce Ultra 5G is a convenient option for certain types of people if two phones are too fuss-free. It certainly took care of everything I threw and served as a daily companion for more pedestrian tasks like scrolling social media and exploring town tours. If extreme durability is a must and you don’t want to give up too much to get it, DuraForce Ultra 5G is a good choice. Photo of Allison Johnson / The Verge


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