With a slim and sleek profile comes a couple of compromises that make us uneasy. Yes, the phone is a 5G one, is gorgeous and comes with one of the best warranties on the rugged smartphone market. On the other hand, its memory/storage specifications are underwhelming for the asking price.
USB 3.1 Type C connector
You can do videos and take pictures using both rear and front cameras.
Sleek, Stylish design
Two-year warranty with fast replacement
Guaranteed android update
Only 64GB onboard storage
Only one SIM slot
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Two minute review
If there was a beauty contest for rugged smartphones, the Kyocera DuraSport 5G would probably win it but looks are not everything and while the device has a lot going for it, there’s also one sore point that makes us wince. Let’s start with the good; it is the most compact rugged smartphone we’ve tested to date; at 155 x 71 x 10mm, it is about the size of the iPhone XR, only a tad thicker.
As for the not-so-good, there’s only 64GB of onboard storage, which is simply unacceptable on a mainstream handset, especially in this price range and given the number of preloaded, non Google apps we’ve encountered (24 in all). Apart from this, the DuraSport 5G is a very likable device and we can’t wait to see what a rugged slate version of this would look like. A successor to the Sony Xperia Z4 tablet maybe?
Pricing and availability
The Kyocera DuraSport 5G smartphone is currently available on Verizon Wireless 5G Ultra Wideband and can be purchased from Amazon for $579.99 (about £435, AU$810) plus a small activation fee. You can also get it on a two-year contract for $24.16 per month (about £18, AU$33) direct from Verizon.
Let’s start by the obvious. This is one of the most attractive, best designed rugged smartphones on the market and is especially well suited for those looking for a diminutive, more portable outdoor handset that can withstand the challenges of outdoor adventures (hence the name DuraSport).
At the front is an 8-megapixel selfie camera near the top of the 6.1-inch IPS FHD+ display (one covered by a layer of Corning Gorilla 6) and next to an indicator light. A 48-megapixel and a 16-megapixel camera sensors are located at the rear, not far from the fingerprint sensor.
On the left is the SIM tray which takes only one SIM and a microSD card; there’s no option for a second SIM, which is a bit of a disappointment. Just below it is a customizable button with a wide border that makes it more visible. It’s particularly great when using gloves as pressing on it produces a clear audible click.
On the opposite side are the volume rocker buttons and the power button. A Type-C connector can be found on the bottom edge of the phone and is not protected by a rubber flap as is usually the case. So make sure it is dry when plugging it in for charging.
As expected, the DuraSport 5G is MIL-STD-810G/IP68 tested and certified, which means that you will be able to rinse it without issues. Its rubbery finish (Elastomer Grip says the marketing literature) adds to the impression of durability without making it feel tacky.
Noteworthy point, Kyocera also sent a protective case for the DuraSport 5G despite the fact that it is a rugged smartphone. A sign perhaps that it needs a bit more protection than expected. At just 185g, it is by far the lightest rugged smartphone we’ve tested to date. The next lightest is the Motorola Defy which is a full 50g (or almost 25%) heavier.
The Kyocera DuraSport 5G comes with the following hardware:
CPU: Snapdragon 480
GPU: Adreno 619
Screen size: 6.1-inch
Dimensions: 155 x 71 x 9.9mm
Rear camera: 48MP, 16MP
Front camera: 8MP
OS: Android 11
The DuraSport 5G is powered by a Snapdragon 480, the processor that is inside the Nokia XR20 and comes with only 4GB of onboard storage 64GB of onboard storage (which can be increased with a microSD card). This is on par with the amount of storage/memory we’d expect from an entry level Android smartphone costing one-tenth of the price.
One bright spot though is that it has a Type-C USB 3.1 connector, a rare feature worth mentioning. Other connectivity options include Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.1 LE, NFC as well as Qi wireless charging. The fact that it is so light explains why there’s a 4.5Ah battery (with support for Quick Charge 4.0 charging), the smallest we’ve ever seen on a normal smartphone. The phone is covered by a two-year warranty as well with the added benefit of being able to receive your replacement before returning the old device
In use and performance
The presence of a slightly modified version of Android 11 is not a surprise, neither is the inclusion of Verizon apps. You will get Android 12 in 2022 and quarterly security updates throughout 2023. You can take videos and photos using both front and rear cameras at the same time in the multi-camera mode.
This is how the Kyocera DuraSport 5G performed in our suite of benchmark tests:
PCMark (Work 2.0): 7004
Passmark CPU: 2373
Androbench (sequential): 464 (sequential read); 439 (sequential write)
Androbench (random): 166 (random read); 138 (random write)
3DMark Wild Life Vulkan: 976
Although geared towards a more laid-back audience, the Kyocera DuraSport 5G is also an excellent choice for enterprise/business users thanks to its support for PTT (Push to Talk), dual band (L1/L5) GPS (great for asset tracking), Enterprise Grade Wi-Fi, 802.11mc for precise indoor location positioning, a FIPS 140-2 compliant cryptographic module and Zero-touch deployment to deploy devices in bulk.
Given the processor that powers it, we had no big expectations with regards to performance which is roughly on par with the XR20. It will deliver below average gaming performance, but if this is a business purchase, then that matters.
While we can live with a heavily customized Android user interface, the amount of apps already installed on the smartphone was simply too much for our liking. Including the Verizon apps, there were 24 other apps including the likes of Apple Music, IMDB and Disney+.
Should I buy the Kyocera DuraSport 5G?
Buy it if:
You want a stylish rugged smartphone with full business credentials. The DuraSport 5G may not be the fastest device in town but its two-year warranty and the commitment to providing security updates for a foreseeable future will make it a firm favourite for small businesses and enterprises equally.
Don’t buy it if:
You want something a bit more solid. The fact that it is the thinnest rugged smartphone we’ve tested to date Kyocera sells a souped up, reinforced version of the DuraSport 5G called the DuraForce 5G. It does carry a rather steep price tag at just under $900.
Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.