Hands-On With Kyocera's Water-Resistant Hydro, Rise Smartphones

Kyocera has announced two new Android Ice Cream Sandwich smartphones here at CTIA, including the water-resistant Hydro and QWERTY keyboard-equipped Rise. Both devices sport 3.5-inch 480x 320 displays, and feature identical internal specs, including a 1-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 512MB of RAM and 2GB of onboard storage. Both handsets also feature microSD card slots with support for up to 32GB of storage. Outside, the phones come equipped with 3.2-megapixel rear-facing cameras.

We spent some hands-on time with both phones and found them to be responsive. Swiping between home screens was smooth and opening the phones' camera apps took just two seconds. Kyocera also loaded both phones with its proprietary Eco Mode app. The app allows you to choose at what point your phone automatically turns off certain features based on its battery level. For instance, you can set the app to turn off the phone's animated wallpaper and haptic feedback when your battery reaches 50 percent to help save battery life.

But what sets these budget-friendly Android phones apart from the competition, and each other, are their special features. The water-resistant Hydro features a special chassis that can keep the phone’s internal components from meeting a watery grave for up to 30 minutes when submerged in up to 1-meter of water. Kyocera says the Hydro can also withstand being hit with a water jet shooting 12.5 liters of water per minute for up to three minutes.

That’s certainly enough to keep the Hydro dry should it take an unexpected dip. The Rise, on the other hand, may not survive a thorough dousing, but its slideout QWERTY keyboard should more than make up for that in the eyes of fans of physical keyboards. Because it’s packing more junk in the trunk, the Rise is a bit thicker than the Hydro, 4.45 x 2.38 x 0.56 inches for the Rise versus 4.53 x 2.44 x 0.50 inches for the Hydro.

Kyocera hasn’t announced carrier partners or pricing for either device, but we expect both phones to run in the $50 to $80 price range.