Smartphones have become quite sophisticated in recent years, but thanks to the glass, plastic and aluminum being used in manufacturing, they're getting more fragile as well. While this is a windfall for third-party case makers, it creates a dilemma for those who work in extreme environments.
That's where the Sprint Torque by Kyocera comes into play. There's no need for a case with this particular Android-powered smartphone, because it's already ruggedized against water, dust or even a drop from nearly six feet high, right out of the box.
As you might expect from any smartphone endorsed by Bear Grylls of Man vs. Wild, the Torque actually meets military standards for dust, vibration, extreme temperatures and even water immersion up to 3.28 feet (more on that in a bit). The downside is this armor adds a more bulk and weight, although it's negligible for those used to adding cases from Otterbox and the like.
The ruggedized exterior extends to three plastic Android navigation keys for Back, Home and Menu – all of which have been textured along with the rest of the non-slip, Dura-Grip reinforced housing. It's a handsome, if somewhat intimidating, handset.
Up top are dedicated speaker and power buttons, with a headphone jack hidden below a protective cap, which also shields the micro-USB jack at bottom. Along the lower right side is a camera shutter button, while a volume rocker and push-to-talk Direct Connect button (ringed in yellow plastic) round out the left edge.
There's a solid heft to the Torque at 5.54 ounces, and the 4.44 x 2.38 x 0.56-inch frame may take a little getting used to in smaller hands. The back features a 5-megapixel camera with LED flash, while a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera gets the job done for video chatting on the go.
Sprint has priced the Torque by Kyocera affordably: $349.99 contract-free, but after with two-year contract and a $50 mail-in rebate, this rugged beast can be yours for absolutely free.