In this article, I give you my quick review of the Kyocera Dura XE with specs included. Using a feature phone nowadays is a special kind of hell. No apps, a lackluster camera, and a keypad that dates back to 1963. Woof.
But, if you get one that’s ruggedized, there’s a saving grace to the dumb phone that anyone living close to the coast can understand.
Obviously, settings like this aren’t what the Dura line was built for. This is a phone for construction workers and truck drivers who need buttons you can push with work gloves on, loud push to talk speakerphones, and military-grade durability.
It’s that last feature that makes this thing so useful when it comes to sun-soaked summer weekends. The Dura XE packs IPEX 5 and IPEX 8 ratings for water spray and continuous immersion, meaning it’ll keep on working even when it’s in over its head.
Now, you guys are pretty smart so you’re probably saying that there were waterproof smartphones for years now, why “wouldn’t I just buy one of them and keep all my features?”
Well, you’ve got a point there, but here’s where old school construction comes into play. You see, a water-resistant smartphone like the Samsung Galaxy S7 still leaves its ports exposed.
The USB connector and speaker and headphone jack are allowed to flood, which is fine because they’re designed to handle that, once they dry off they work fine.
But that’s with fresh water. Saltwater is pure, straight poison to electronics. And it works fast. I took a few shots with the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active a while ago, and by the time the sun went down, the phone’s headphone jack was completely shut, never to function again.
So, the open port’s approach which helps keep the phone thin actually isn’t the best. The Dura XE and phones like it use the old method of waterproofing, big flaps like missile hatches that lockdown into gaskets to keep water from getting inside.
This makes the phone huge, a big meatball in a pocket. But it also means that saltwater should be no more harmful than fresh because it’s not getting anywhere near the guts.
I am a little worried about those charging pads on the back, and if you are too, give the phone a quick freshwater splash after your swim. After two days of filming on the beach, I did this routinely, and the phone is still fine thus far.
Now, there are smartphones that use the bulky method of waterproofing as well, but first of all those phones tend to be not very good.
And more to the point, touchscreens hate being wet. Water droplets temporarily bridge the electrodes of the capacitive grid, generating all kinds of confusing inputs.
Saltwater only makes that worse, and let’s not even bring up sunscreen, hot dog mustard, or any of the other exciting beach stuff you might get on your phone.
For this same reason, the mentality of “Oh, I’ll just put a case on my iPhone,” kinda breaks down too, the thing is still gonna be gross by the end of the day, and when little grains of sand find their way inside the case, well, you’re gonna have a bad time.
Once again, the old ways to the rescue. The physical keys don’t care whether they’re wet or not so you can still text your heart out, once you remember how XT9 predictive text works.
Voice calls are comfier on a clamshell, too, so that’s another win. There’s not a single app here, so all those little tasks your coworkers pin you to do on Slack or Hangouts, well, they’ll just have to wait.
And if you finish that book on your Kindle and need to download another, or you’re one of those daredevils who brings an iPad or a Chromebook to the water, this phone has LTE and WiFi hotspot baked into its Android-based OS.
Am I advocating buying a Dura XE just so you can have a better beach and boat phone? Not at all, like I said, carrying a dumb phone nowadays is just miserable in so many ways. Plus, it’s too pricey to justify as a novelty purchase.
Now, if you’re in the market for a rugged glove box phone or you’re a prepper looking for a good emergency handset, or an ultra-minimalist who’s just had it with smartphones for whatever reason, well, then this is your dream device.
Most likely though, if you’re familiar with this phone it probably means you’re employer has issued you one. And if that’s the case, congratulations. You can stop thinking of it as an antique clunker and start thinking of it as a sweet vacation phone.
That’s all for this review folks. Feel free to share this post.
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