Ultra tough smart phone has tools for field work
- By Greg Crowe
- Mar 18, 2013
Although some government personnel work in harsh environments, they need to stay connected. The solution, of course, starts with a rugged phone, but not all rugged phones are smart phones, and even fewer have features specifically designed for field work, or are capable of running peripheral devices such as the Integrated Warrior System.
The Kyocera Torque 6710 is one of the exceptions. It is a 4G LTE smart phone running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich that is among the most rugged of its kind.
The dual-core 1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor is powerful enough to run any app out there. In all of our testing, we didn’t experience any delays that were caused by the phone itself. When our network connection was strong, the Torque performed as expected.
One feature that should come in quite handy in the field is the push-to-talk capability that works with services such as Sprint Direct Connect. The ability to talk with another person or group of people in the field with the push of a single button can mean the difference between “just in time” and “too late.”
Another feature that makes outdoor communication easier is the Torque’s speakers. They are, in a word, loud. With the volume all the way up, the sound is audible even in noisy areas. Kyocera’s Smart Sonic Receiver sends vibrations through the screen and up through the user's hand in order to augment the sound coming out of the speakers. The Torque is the first phone released in the U.S. market to have this technology.
Of course, the most notable feature of the Torque is its ruggedness. The 5.54-ounce phone passed MIL-STD 810G tests for shock, vibration, temperature extremes, blowing rain, low pressure, solar radiation, salt fog and humidity. It also has an Ingress Protection rating of IP67, which means it is fully protected against dust and even the most powerful water sprays, and it can even survive up to 30 minutes fully submerged in up to one meter of water. We managed to perform many of these tests ourselves, and the Torque passed all of them with flying colors.
Kyocera says that the Torque’s 2,500 milliampere per hour battery will last for 18.9 hours of talk time when running in Eco mode and using MaxiMZR, which automatically blocks the background data connection for non-essential apps. While we didn’t talk on it for that long, we found that the Torque could run apps for several hours before needing recharging.
The one feature that might make the Torque less ideal for outdoor work is its capacitive touch screen, which means users will have to apply a bare finger to the display (a resistive screen works when wearing gloves). So even though the phone will work just fine in sub-zero temperatures or rain, the user will have to expose his bare hand to these environments. It is possible that the Smart Sonic Receiver technology requires a capacitive touch screen to work, but otherwise we wonder why Kyocera decided to go with this type of display.
The Kyocera Torque 6710 retails for $350, which is a very good price for a fully ruggedized smart phone. At this price we can see it being used by agency staff who work in harsh environments.
Greg Crowe is a former GCN staff writer who covered mobile technology.