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Kyocera DuraForce Pro 2 Review


Kyocera DuraForce Pro 2 Takes Big Strides Forward

The Kyocera DuraForce Pro introduced us to the benefits of an action camera on a rugged smartphone. I’m curious to see what they’re upgrading on the Kyocera DuraForce Pro 2. I’m going to take a look from top to bottom and see what you can expect if you decide to pull the trigger.

Pros

  • Upgraded processor
  • Higher standard RAM and ROM
  • 4K, 135º action camera
  • Louder speakers (106 decibels) help you hear in noisy environments
  • IP68, MIL 810G, and non-incendive Class 1, Division 2, Group A-D, T-4 ratings
  • Compatible with Vibes accessory systems

Cons

  • Main camera still needs help
  • Heavy uses will struggle with battery life

Recommendation

The Kyocera DuraForce Pro 2 has some significant hardware and storage upgrades from the original DuraForce Pro. Durability encompassing a 4K action camera is still the primary draw, targetting the same audience.

Grab one if you’re looking for a rugged, durable phone that can stand up to jobsites and outdoor adventures. Just be sure to get familiar with an editing app if you’re going to take your vacation photos on it. 

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Processor and Memory

The Kyocera DuraForce Pro2 gets a pretty big horsepower upgrade on its processor. It moves from a Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8952 1.5 GHz/1.2 GHz Octa Core processor to a Qualcomm Snapdragon SDM630 2.2 GHz/1.8 GHz Octa Core.

That’s a solid mid-range processor with premium brands like the Samsung Galaxy S10 running 2.8 GHz (not to mention $1300+).

Memory gets an upgrade as well. The 32 GB ROM/3 GB RAM moves to 64 GB ROM with 4 GB RAM. Storage space is storage space and with today’s higher quality cameras, I’m grateful for the extra 32 gigs.

If you’re a heavy internal storage user with photos, videos, and apps, you can now expand with a micro SD card as high as 512 GB, up from 256 GB on the Pro.

I use Photoshop Elements a lot when I’m on the go and it can tax some processors. On this phone, the adjustments were snappy and responsive without any lag time, so I’m pretty happy with that.

With as much editing as I do on the fly, I find that having the extra expansion space is handy as well. If I’m on a multi-day business trip and don’t have time to dump my phone to DropBox, I don’t have to worry about deleting photos from my son’s aviation camp to make room.

Operating System

You get a 2-generation operating system upgrade from Marshmallow on the original Pro to Oreo on the Pro 2. Oreo is a generation back with the launch of Pie in August 2018. As of June 2019, beta versions of Android Q are running around, but there hasn’t been a full release yet.

Screen

The screen size and resolution are the same (5″, 443 ppi, 1920 x 1080 pixels). However, the Kyocera DuraForce Pro 2 moves to a Dragontrail Pro touchscreen. According to Android Authority, Dragontrail glass is right on par with Gorilla glass, making for a pretty tough screen.

 

The three buttons below the screen are no longer there. Back, home, and recall buttons are now built into the touch screen and function the same as before.

Camera

The 13 MP main and 5 MP front-facing cameras seem to be the part that doesn’t change. Both indoor and outdoor photos are on the cool side of the color spectrum and my outdoor shots are a little washed out.

The onboard photo editor gives you enough control to create passable photos for most people. However, going with a dedicated editor like PS Elements or grabbing an app with manual photo controls helps you take this so-so camera and create photos you can hang on the wall.

The photos above show the DuraForce Pro 2’s camera with an unedited outdoor shot (left), post editing on the phone with Photoshop Elements (center), and an unedited photo from an iPhone 7 Plus (right).

The action camera is still a 135º wide view but upgrades to a full 4K resolution. Particularly on outdoor shots, it works as a Go-Pro replacement without the hyper-smooth image stabilization of the most recent model. Obviously, it comes in a larger package, but you have potentially greater storage and battery life.

Call and Speaker Quality

On a regular call, the microphone picks up my voice well and I can hear who I’m talking to clearly. That’s a win, but I do wish I could bump up the volume just a bit more. It’s fine most of the time, it just needs a little help when there’s a lot of noise around you.

That’s when kicking over to speakerphone can help, though. The speakers now reach an impressive 106 decibels and the 4 microphones help reduce the amount of ambient noise to the person you’re talking to. That’s important if you’re trying make sure your wife hears “I want to have gravy” and not “I want to have a baby” when she calls about dinner.

While the speaker volume is definitely loud enough, it’s very average in quality. It’s best to stick with spoken words at the high end. Music sounds a bit boxy around the mids and you lose a lot of the highs and lows.

Rugged Build

If you’re used to a rugged phone, the size and weight are no surprise. After all, to be built like a tank, you need a lot of steel. They Kyocera DuraForce Pro 2 is marginally heavier by just 5 grams and 0.02″ thicker. It also gains 0.07″ of width and keeps the same height.

The phone maintains its IP68and Military 810G ratings, meaning it’s nearly impervious to dust, water, and shock. More practically, I can still video angle grinders in action through the spark spray, go for a run in the rain, and shoot underwater photography to my heart’s desire.

Kyocera DuraForce Pro 2 Wet01

This is also a non-incendive Class 1, Division 2, Group A-D, T-4 device. Essentially that means you can use it in environments where flammable gases, vapors, or mists aren’t normally in an explosive concentration but could exist.

In order to maintain that waterproof, dustproof integrity, be sure to secure all of your ports. They have o-rings to seal out any would-be phone killers.

Battery

Kyocera sticks with a 3240 mAh non-removable battery. The rated standby time is down from 19 days to 14, but the talk time moves up from 20 hours to 21. Take that with a grain of salt considering we all use our phones differently.

Light users (talk, text, email, and a couple of hours of browsing/game playing/social media) can get through a day on one charge. Moderate to heavy users need to plan on charging at some point during the day.

Charging moves from micro USB to USB C, giving you faster charging options on power supplies that support it. The phone is also Qi wireless charging compatible.

Additional Features

  • Vibes accessory compatible (more on that coming soon!)
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • Push-to-Talk EPTT services
  • Gloved and wet finger-friendly touchscreen

Price

The Kyocera DuraForce Pro 2 runs $450 at its full retail price—a little bit higher than the DuraForce Pro. It’s still well within a mid-grade phone pricing structure with better features and quality than low-end phones and clear trade-offs from premium models. Unlike most smartphones, Kyocera back this one for 2 years.

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The Bottom Line

The Kyocera DuraForce Pro 2 has some significant hardware and storage upgrades from the original DuraForce Pro. Durability encompassing a 4K action camera is still the primary draw, targetting the same audience.

Grab one if you’re looking for a rugged, durable phone that can stand up to jobsites and outdoor adventures. Just be sure to get familiar with an editing app if you’re going to take your vacation photos on it.

Kyocera DuraForce Pro 2 Specifications

  • Talk Time: 21 hours
  • Standby Time: 14 days
  • Battery Type: 3240mAh non-removable Lithium-ion (Li-ion)
  • Charging: USB Type-C and Qi Wireless
  • Display: 5″ FHD, (1920 x1080 pixels), 443ppi, Dragontrail PRO touchscreen
  • Operating System: Android 8 (Oreo)
  • Camera: 13MP camera + 5MP front-facing camera; Super Wide View 1080p HD Action Camera with 135-degree field of view for capturing wider angle shots. Underwater Mode, Continuous Shooting, Panorama, Scene Select, Auto Scene Detect, Color Effects, Slow Motion, Time Lapse. Live full capture and playback; 1080p at 30fps
  • Chipset: SDM630 Qualcomm Snapdragon processor with 2.2 GHz x 1.8GHz Octa Core CPU
  • Radios: 4G LTE: 2, 4, 5, 12, 14, 29, 30, 66 GSM: Quad (2, 3, 5, 8) UMTS: 1, 2, 4, 5
  • Memory: 64GB ROM/4GB RAM microSDX memory card slot (supports up to 512GB)
  • SIM Type: Nano/4FF
  • Size: 150.2 x 73.4 x 13.5 mm (5.91 x 2.89 x .53 in)
  • Weight: 235g (8.3oz)
  • Media Formats: AUDIO: AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, AMR-NB, AMR-WB, FLAC, MP3, MIDI, Vorbis, PCM (WAVE), Opus, QCELP, EVRC VIDEO: H.263, H.264, H.265, MPEG-4, VP8, VP9 IMAGE: BMP, WBMP, GIF, JPEG, PNG, WEBP
  • Warranty: 2 years
  • Price: ~$450

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