When Kyocera offered us their “ruggedized” smartphone for testing, they wanted us to find out how well it would work in ADV environments. Given that the Kyocera DuraForce Pro 2 is meant to take it all and call back for more, we were happy to give it a test.
I started to think about the environments that the phone would be used in. I also thought about the things that might be useful when out and riding.
Ultimately, I came up with six unscientific but real-world use tests for the DuraForce Pro 2.
- Glove test – Would a rider be able to make inputs on the display with a gloved hand?
- Waterproof test – Could the phone withstand riding in the rain or immersion in water?
- Speaker volume test – Is the phone’s speaker loud enough to be heard with a closed full-face helmet and the visor down or when moving on the trail?
- Screen brightness test – Since the phone would largely be used outdoors, how well can you see the screen in bright sunlight?
- Drop test – Since phones mounted to bikes or carried by riders sometimes fall off or are dropped, could the phone withstand a drop from a motorcycle? (Ask me: I know first hand since I totaled my last phone when it fell off at speed on a dirt road.)
- Feature review – Are there any other features found on the DuraForce Pro 2 that would be useful, or at least fun to use?
With those test parameters in mind, I set out to see how well the phone works.
Kyocera says that the phone will accept inputs from a gloved hand. However, they hadn’t tested the phone with motorcycle gloves. Frankly, I was a bit doubtful that the phone would be able to sense the touch of a thickly gloved hand.
For the test, I donned a well-known maker’s dual-chamber gloves and used the thickest chamber. This would put the most material between the phone and my finger. Using the tip of my finger, I tried to enter the text messaging screen. Nothing happened. I tried again, and still the phone did not sense the input.
But when I used the pad of my finger instead of my fingertip, the phone was able to sense my inputs, and the text messaging center came up. Next, I tried to compose and send a text, and the phone sensed all my inputs. So the key to using the phone with your gloves is to use the pad of your fingers, not the tip of your finger.
Using the pad of your finger can make data input a bit “fidgety,” but I think it’s worth it not to have to stop and remove your gloves before you can use your phone. I’m not suggesting that you send texts or other similar activities while you are riding. But it is nice to be able to stop and use your camera when you come across a beautiful scene or send a text, without removing your gloves – especially when your hands are cold (freezing) or hot (sweaty) and aren’t happy to come out of or go into your gloves.
Can you leave your gloves on?
When all is said and done, I give the Kyocera a “C+” on this test. The touches necessary are a bit fidgety but certainly workable. Not having to take your gloves off is excellent.
To test the phone’s “waterproofness,” I intended to perform two trials. First, I would ride all day in the rain with the phone out in the open in an X-cradle. But the rain gods weren’t listening in Florida, so there’s no all-day rain test.
But, since Kyocera says that you can actually take the DuraForce Pro 2 swimming and take pictures and video underwater, perhaps submerging the phone in the sink while leaving the video camera on would be a good test. Yup, it was going in the sink immersed in about 18 inches of water for half an hour.
Starting the test
I turned on the water, let it rise to about 10 inches deep, and dropped the phone in. I let the water continue running with the phone in the sink to try to simulate some movement or underwater current. When the water in the sink was about 18 inches deep, I turned it off and walked away.
A little more than 20 minutes later, I came back and could see that the phone and the video camera were still working. I left it submerged for another 10 minutes, and there was no change. The phone was still working.
I turned on the water again to shake things up for another minute or so and let the phone sit. When I returned more than 10 minutes later, the phone was still recording and showed no signs of malfunctioning.
At the conclusion of the test, I took the phone out of the water and dried it off. I tested the phone’s speakers. When playing music, the sound was just as good as it was before being submerged.
Is the phone waterproof?
I can say with certainty that the Kyocera DuraForce Pro 2 is waterproof to the extent of this testing. And frankly, I have no doubt that it will do fine in the wet conditions that riders experience. The Kyocera gets an “A” grade on this test.
Speaker volume test
Kyocera says that the DuraForce Pro 2 is equipped with extra loud speakers so they can be heard on the job site and can be used with their Push To Talk (PTT) feature.
From my perspective, what is most important is the phone’s ability to put out enough sound so that it can easily be heard through a full-face helmet with the visor closed. As I said earlier, this is not a scientific test but one based on real-world scenarios. So off I went on the bike to see how well I could hear the phone with the volume turned up to maximum.
What Kyocera has done is position the speakers on the face of the phone. That puts the sound right in your face, not out the bottom of the phone. Having the sound projected directly towards you seems to be a good idea.
And not surprisingly, the sound could be easily heard and understood. In fact, I could hear instructions from Google Maps at speeds up to about 35 mph. Once stopped, if you are a modular, open face, or dirt bike helmet user, I would suggest that you could even hold a conversation with a caller using the phone’s push to talk feature. You won’t have to remove your helmet.
As for sound quality, that’s quite a subjective topic. And I don’t usually use my phone to listen to music without earbuds. But comparing the DuraForce Pro 2’s sound quality (using music as the determining factor), I would say that my Samsung S10+ has a slightly better sound quality but is not as loud. I imagine that’s what Kyocera might have had in mind. A bit of sacrifice to speaker sound quality for the ability to hear the phone in loud environments.
Sound test results
At the test’s conclusion, I was happy with the DuraForce Pro 2’s sound. It might have a bit less sound quality, but the volume and the fact that the speakers are mounted on the front of the phone make it worth an “A-” on this test.
Screen brightness test
Since the phone is supposed to be used extensively outdoors, it makes sense to test how well the screen can be seen both indoors and outdoors in bright sunlight. So I set both phones to their respective adaptive brightness modes and let them decide how to set their brightness levels.
For the first test, I kept the phones indoors and put them on the counter. With both phones set to adaptive brightness, the Kyocera is much brighter and easier to see than the Samsung S10+. That’s a good thing. I also have to wonder whether the Kyocera phone was using more battery to get the screen as bright as it was. But sticking to visibility, the Kyocera DuraForce Pro 2 wins hands down.
Next, I took both the Kyocera DuraForce Pro 2 and my personal Samsung S10+ outside in the bright sunshine, placed both phones flat in the bed of my truck, and left them in ambient light mode. As you might guess, both phones automatically set their brightness modes to 100%. Not surprisingly, both displays were less visible in the bright Florida sunshine.
In bright sun, the Samsung S10+ beats the Kyocera DuraForce Pro 2. Both can be seen and read, but I have to say that the Samsung S10+ has an edge on brightness and readability.
That said, the Samsung S10+ has a screen protector that is supposed to provide additional damage protection, reduce glare, and eliminate reflectivity. However, the Kyocera display does not have any additional protection/help on the face of its display. And frankly, after you see the next test, you’ll see why a screen protector may not be necessary.
I can see you
Ultimately, the results say that the Kyocera phone is more visible indoors, while the Samsung S10+ has the edge outdoors. As a result, I give the Kyocera DuraForce Pro 2 phone a “B” grade for screen visibility in sunlight.
Phone drop test
I was really, really looking forward to this test. Kyocera says that the DuraForce Pro 2 meets or exceeds MIL-STD 810G. Having previously been in the defense industry for many years, I am acquainted with this MIL standard. It covers many, many areas, not just shock. It covers a broad spectrum of tests, ranging from temperature, humidity, sand and dust, to rain, vibration, and shock. Because of all these parameters, MIL-STD 810G can be very difficult to pass.
However, for the civilian world, claiming MIL-STD 810G compliance does not require a manufacturer to send the tested item to an outside source. You are depending on the vendor to have either sent the item out for testing or at least completed the whole of the standard’s testing.
I know that Kyocera sells this phone to police departments and federal agencies, so they had better be able to back up their claims. Anyway, my planned testing should settle the matter.
Ultimately, I wanted to simulate the environment that off-road riders encounter. For this, I thought it would be good to head to a dirt road and drop the phone from about five feet onto the road surface a few times to see what happens. But the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to drop the phone off the bike while it was moving. I was pretty sure that the phone wouldn’t survive especially in light of the way my previous Samsung S10 died a grisly death when it fell from my moving bike.
So I called Kyocera and asked them if they would mind if I dropped the phone off the bike at speed. To their credit, they said that the phone wasn’t designed for that but that I should go right ahead and try. Well, OK, then. It’s off to find some dirt.
Filming the results
Not too far from my home here in Florida, there are a series of roads that would fit the bill well. The roads are hard-packed dirt with loose sand on top thrown in for fun. Once there, I would toss the phone from the bike at speed.
My original plan was to drop the phone at 30 mph a few times and call it a day. But that seemed repetitive and wouldn’t simulate the different speeds we travel at off-road. To make it interesting, I decided to toss the Kyocera DuraForce Pro 2 phone from the bike at 20, 30, and 35 mph.
I asked Kim to film the events, and she agreed. We found an isolated dirt road and began the testing. This video shows the results. I may have dropped the phone at speeds faster than planned.
Now you know that I not only dropped, but tossed the phone from the bike at 20, 30, 40, and 50 mph. The phone emerged unscathed. Neither the case nor the glass display suffered any damage. All the phone controls still worked, the case didn’t get scratched, and the display glass was still perfect. From my perspective, that’s outstanding performance.
It’s worthwhile noting that my destroyed Samsung S10 had a “high-quality impact protecting case” as well as a screen protector shield, and it still was destroyed. The Kyocera DuraForce Pro 2 had no additional protective case, nor did it have a screen protector. If you decide to go without one or both, that will save you a few bucks as well.
So using the experience from my personal Samsung S10’s death, I give the Kyocera DuraForce Pro 2 an “A+” grade for its impact durability.
I’m sure you noticed the phone’s sports overlay while the camera was recording the drops. The sports overlay provides several bits of information that can be useful and fun.
When turned on (it can be easily turned on or off), it shows speed, maximum speed, elapsed time, altitude, G-force, maximum G-force, distance covered, day, date, and time. It also features a “route map” on a grid showing where the phone has traveled.
It was great to have this functionality during the test and have the opportunity to see all that information. In the case of this test, it was nice to get info on what the phone experienced during the drops. In case you didn’t notice, the phone took as much as 6.4 Gs when it hit the dirt. Interestingly, it experienced 6.3 Gs on the slowest drop.
Although the sports overlay provides lots of information, it’s not without some glitches. As you can see in the screengrab above, the altimeter indicates that I am riding at -41 feet. That’s because the altimeter requires you to put in the barometric pressure manually. I did that, but unfortunately, the altimeter still glitched. Where I live is about 20 feet MSL so the phone should have been showing an altitude around that number.
Also, at the bottom right-hand corner of the display, you can see a “grid” and a yellow dot marking your progress. In this case, you can see that I was on a fairly straight section of the road. It’s kind of a cool feature, but unfortunately, the data is not exportable. Bummer. I’m hoping that Kyocera can make the data exportable in a future phone.
Everything else works as promised, and overall, I really like the overlay feature.
Since this is supposed to be a practical test and review, I won’t get into the phone’s technical aspects. But below are the specs on Kyocera’s website:
Probably the most important part of this test is how easy and well the phone performs in day-to-day use. For me, overall, the Kyocera DuraForce Pro 2 is equal to or better than my Samsung S10+. With the exception of screen brightness in bright sunlight, the Kyocera performs very well.
Battery life and charging times are good. It takes a tad over two hours to charge from 0 to 100%. In daily use, I never had to worry about running out of power by the day’s end.
That said, GPS use is a battery hog. If not connected to a power source, you should get six to eight hours of Google Maps use before needing a charge. Obviously, if you are running apps in the background, the battery’s charge will be depleted more quickly. Overall, the Kyocera ran a little longer (minutes) than my Samsung S10+ in side-by-side comparison.
So what do I think about the phone? That’s easy. I like the Kyocera DuraForce Pro 2. Frankly, I’m a little sad that I have to send the phone back. It performs admirably, can hold a charge throughout the day’s use, and can take a beating – and it comes with a two-year warranty. That’s a pretty good combination, in my opinion.
Pricing for the phone varies considerably. Full retail is $449.99. But there are many, many deals out there where you can get the phone for considerably less. If you are willing to sign up for a contract, some service providers may give you the phone for “free.”
Considering that some phones are well over $1,000, (ahem . . . Samsung S10+) the DuraForce Pro 2 seems like a bargain. In fact, once my current personal phone dials its last number, I may just be in the market for a new Kyocera DuraForce Pro 2.
UPDATE: A representative from Kyocera has reached out to let me know that the DuraForce Pro 2 is tested for its MIL-STD 810G compliance by an independent 3rd party laboratory that has experience with MIL-STD requirements.