With feature phones in the conversation again, Kyocera's Torque X01 could spark renewed interest in no-frills, dependable, ultra-tough devices.
Truly rugged phones are somewhat of a dying breed. Most customers opt to buy a conventional smartphone, then stuff it inside an airtight, sturdy case like a Lifeproof or Otter Box. Seriously strong phones tend to come with serious compromises in the way of features, and that also looks to be the case with Kyocera’s just-announced, Japan-exclusive Torque X01 flip phone.
Then again, it’s possible there’s never been a phone quite this tough before. The Torque X01 meets 18 separate categories of the U.S. military’s durability criteria, according to Kyocera, and survived the company’s proprietary 1.8-meter drop test from 26 different angles. It’s also certified waterproof and dustproof.
To put things into perspective, the iPhone 7 and Samsung Galaxy S7 sport IP67 and IP68 water resistance, respectively — meaning the iPhone can last for 30 minutes submerged in up to 1m of water, and the Samsung can survive just as long at a maximum depth of 1.5m. The X01 matches the Samsung’s rating, but also meets IPX5 standards to endure rushing water — something most phones cannot handle.
Kyocera says it has built the X01 to stand a 40G shock, temperatures as low as -6 Fahrenheit or as high as 122 F for three hours, low-pressure environments, freezing rain, thawing, and 10 straight days of solar radiation, among other challenges set forth by the U.S. Department of Defense.
The phone also boasts more practical features that are sure to be appreciated by those working out in the elements, like large, embossed number keys for operation with gloves, an FWVGA display for easy viewing under direct sunlight, and dual, high-volume front facing speakers to help alerts cut through ambient noise. In terms of specs, the X01 surely won’t win any benchmarking tests with a 1.1GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, but to its credit, Kyocera has packed in LTE and Wi-Fi connectivity. Combined with a suite of outdoor-minded apps for weather, temperature, barometric pressure, step counting, tide levels, and, most curiously, determining the activity levels of aquatic life, the X01 is smarter than its clamshell appearance suggests.
The Torque X01 is exclusive to Japanese carrier KDDI at the moment, though there’s the potential for a wider release if the recent resurgence of feature phones persists. Nokia surprised and excited the world with its announcement last week that its classic 3310 candy bar-style phone will soon be making a comeback. The 3310 is expected to surface at Mobile World Congress, set to begin on February 27.