Kyocera Hydro Vibe Waterproof Smartphone Review
User Experience and Software
The first time you use the Hydro Vibe, it will update some Sprint-specific apps and ask you to Accept or Decline if Google can check installed apps for potentially harmful behavior. No other set-up steps appear. Most phones ask for a Google account and perform a few additional set up steps during the first boot, but Kyocera lets you jump right in to using the phone. Nonetheless, it’s easy to enter your Google account using the settings menu. If you don’t enter your account right away, various apps will prompt you to do so when you use them for the first time.
An Application launcher is located at the bottom of the Home screens. You’ll find Phone, People, Applications, Messaging, and Browser in this launcher. You can customize this bar by adding folders with icons or removing an icon and adding another. By default, the Hydro Vibe has five home screens. You can add an additional two home screens for a total of seven home screens.
You’ll find many of Sprint’s standard apps on the Hydro Vibe including Sprint Zone, Sprint ID, Sprint Money, Sprint Music Plus, and Sprint TV & Movies. Additional apps and features include MagniFont, Flashlight, Eco Mode, Messaging plus, Next Radio, eBay, 1Weather, CBS Sports, Eureka Offers, Lumen Toolbar, and others.
MagniFont mode enables a larger font size on the display. MagniFont only works in certain applications. MagniFont is even larger than Android’s Large text. You can see the font size differences by going into the Settings menu and selecting Font Size.
With Eco Mode the phone can automatically adjust certain settings based on the Hydro Vibe’s battery level. For example, if you enable Eco Mode (it’s off by default), Eco Mode will automatically turn on if the battery level falls below a set threshold. When Eco Mode is running, the phone will adjust sleep settings, brightness, wallpaper, turn off vibration feedback, and other settings to conserve power. Another feature known as MaxiMZR will conserve battery power by blocking background data connections for apps that you haven’t used in a week. MaxiMZR is available in the Settings menu. It is turned off by default.
The first time you use Messaging plus, you’ll likely need to update it. This app enables high quality video calling, group chat, a full emoji keyboard, the ability to share your location and more.
After using the phone for a while, it did get warm but it wasn’t uncomfortable to hold.
In order to ensure you’ll be able to hear conversations clearly even in noisy environments, the Hydro Vibe features a Smart Sonic receiver which transmits sound through vibrations on the phone's display. Essentially, this technology converts the entire touchscreen into a speaker. All you have to do is put the phone to your ear near the internal receiver (which is at the top of the phone where you’d expect) and adjust the position of the phone to find the best hearing point. Because the touchscreen is used to transmit sound, Kyocera urges users to avoid applying any screen protector sheet or sticker to the display area since it could compromise the hearing quality. This can be a drawback for some users for sure.
We tested this feature with very loud music playing. With other phones, the noise level would have made it very hard to hear the person on the other end of the line. While speaking using the Hydro Vibe and its Smart Sonic receiver, we could hear the caller very clearly. Our caller’s only complaint was that even though he could hear us, the background noise was distracting.
To test the Hydro Vibe’s waterproof capabilities, we subjected the phone to multiple dunks of varying lengths of time and depths. After several dunks, the phone continued to function just fine. When we removed the back battery cover, it was quite wet in all areas except for the area protected by the rubber seal that surrounds the battery.