Kyocera Torque – budget-priced ruggedized smartphone crosses the pond

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There are few things in life more frustrating than damaging a smartphone. Apart from the expense involved, the thought of spending days without catching up on Twitter and playing Candy Crush is often too much for some people to bear, so it’s no wonder we’re starting to see an increasing focus on durability. Toughened screens and waterproofing are all well and good but if you’re particularly clumsy or perhaps have a penchant for all-terrain activities then you might like an all-terrain smartphone, and there have been precious few of those to choose from.

Luckily one is on the way in the Kyocera Torque, a new version of a phone with the same concept that was doing the rounds a couple of years ago in the US, and it looks like it could stand up to quite a bit of punishment. What’s interesting about it is that unlike some other phones that justify pricing a mid-range handset at a high-end price due to a relatively unique concept; this is a budget model with fairly reasonable specs.

A quad-core 1.4GHz Snapdragon processor powers a 4.5” display with 1280×720 resolution that can also be operated with regular gloves on or when wet, which given the target market could come in very handy. Incorporated into the display, or specifically the glass front panel, is something called “smart sonic receiver”, which uses the whole surface as a speaker detecting both sound and vibrations and is designed to transmit sound through the cartilage of your ear to improve audio for both phone calls and media playback.

An 8MP rear camera and 2MP front facer are fairly standard, though it would have been nice to see a bit more going on in this area given that if you are venturing into the great outdoors with it there may be a fair few photo opportunities, and a meaty 3,100mAh battery offers reassuring impressions that it’ll last quite some time between charges.

In terms of protection you’re getting the latest IPX5 and IPX8 waterproofing, which essentially means it can survive in five feet of water for around 30 minutes, it’s dustproof and shockproof and can also withstand temperatures between -21 and 50 degrees centigrade for three hours. Unfortunately it only runs Android 4.4, which given the specifications is unlikely to be upgraded, but since at this price point many people will be picking one up as a secondary phone it shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

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The Torque is already doing the rounds in the US but will be coming to the UK in the spring – in fact it’s the first Kyocera model to be launched into the European market. No prices have been announced as yet, but with a $99.99 tag we expect it to be affordable, to say the least.