Kyocera showed off four new Sprint phones at a press event in New York City this week. These range from an Android OS 2.3-enabled mini-smartphone economy device to an upcoming ruggedized model touted as water-tolerant. I was there to take a first look at them.
Unfortunately for the legions of smartphone users whose gadgets have gone dead after an unintended bath in a washing machine or mud puddle, Kyocera’s new Android phone and water-resistant model are separate entities. Still, considering its small size and its pricetag of $50 with a two-year contract, Kyocera’s Android Gingerbread-powered Milano phone offers a long list of rather impressive features, even if water resistance isn’t among them.
“The other three phones just run traditional phone OS. But with the Milano, you can download and install any app from the Android Market,” said John Chier, a Kyocera rep, during a demo at this week’s Pepcom show.
Hands-on with the Kyocera Milano Mini Android Smartphone
Measuring 4.a-by-2.4-by-0.7-inches, the mini Android phone includes a 3-inch touch display; a slide-out QWERTY keyboard; a Wi-Fi hotspot supporting up to five devices; a 3.2 megapixel camera with auto-focus and video camcorder; and a built-in 2GB microSD card, with support for cards up to 32GB.
Also on board are a full HTML browser; Swype; GPS support; Stereo Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR; a 3.5 mm stereo headphone jack; and a built-in accelerometer, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor, and digital compass.
At 5.6 ounces, the Milano felt kind of heavy in my hands, given its tiny dimensions. The lilliputian hard keyboard worked well, although as might be expected, it did seem cramped. On the other hand, although the Milano’s QVGA TFT LCD is billed at resolution of only 240-by-320, the picture appeared nice and clear.
Kyocera bundles the phone with Eco Mode, its own application for managing battery life. With Eco Mode, you can set a point at which your phone will automatically enter “low power consumption mode” through adjustments to functions like brightness and screen timeout.
Sprint released the Milano earlier this month, along with the Brio feature phone. Although the Brio isn’t a smartphone, it is free with a two-year contract.
Rugged phones are popular as fleet devices for workers such as delivery and phone line repair personnel, but also among folks who like to spend their spare time in outdoor activities like camping, hiking, fishing and biking, according to Chier.
Adhering to 810G military standards for resistance to dust, shock, and vibration, the DuraCore offers a WAP 2.0 browser with support for POP3 and IMAP e-mail access; SMS and MMS messaging; and Bluetooth 2.0 with EDR.
Both rugged phones are encased in a rubber, anti-slip material called Dura-Grip. Both also offer “limit use,” a feature for business managers that restricts workers from using certain functions on the phone.
As you might guess from its name, though, the DuraMax adds more capabilities. These range from a speaker phone and 3.2 megapixel camera with flash and camcorder to resistance against a long list of other environmental conditions, including temperature extremes, salt fog, and water immersion.
To show off the water resistance, Chier plunged the DuraMax into a jar of water. After he fished it out, the phone continued to operate in the same way as before.
Kyocera’s water resistance capability, though, comes with the twin provisos that the DuraMax can only be submerged in up to 1 meter — or 3.28 feet — of water, and even then, only for up to 30 minutes. “Just don’t try submerging the phone for more than 30 minutes, or you could be in trouble,” Chier acknowledged.