Imagine never having to worry about dropping your phone. It could land on the pavement, in a puddle of water and you wouldn’t fret. You just pick it up and continue on your merry way, without giving your fumble a second thought. Whether you have an adventurous lifestyle, a rigorous job or tend to be clumsy, you may need a durable phone.
If you’re looking for the thinnest, hippest phone, then move along. Nothing to see here. But if you’re looking for a phone that’s practically indestructible and is filled with functional features then stick around. I think you’ll like what you see in the Kyocera Brigadier.
The phone has an impressive list of unique and useful features that will make you wonder why other phone companies haven’t thought of these first. If you’re looking for a phone that can withstand the trials and tribulations of everyday life and has advanced features, then you should consider the Brigadier.
If you hadn’t guessed that the Brigadier was rugged by its name, you’d know immediately from the look of the phone. The Brigadier seems to be geared for battle, by its name, ruggedness and functionality. Even if you’re not headed off to war, you may want this phone as your ally. The phone wears its sturdiness proudly, sporting a rubberized case with rough edges, exposed screws and a raised bezel.
The phone is neither thin nor light, but feels solid in the hand. When you don’t try to be the thinnest and the lightest, you can pack more into the phone.
The Brigadier weighs in at 6.6 oz/187 grams and measures 0.52 inches/132 cm thick, which isn’t much different than a thinner phone with a protective case. The phone has 16 GB of storage which can be expanded with an SD card. The SD card and SIM card slots are accessed on the right side of the phone.
The phone runs Android 4.4.2 (KitKat) and comes with a 4.5″ Sapphire Shield screen (more on that below). The phone comes with 4G/LTE and the call quality over Verizon’s network was extremely clear.
The phone is designed to take a beating. The phone is waterproof and dustproof, with flaps covering the ports on the phone.
The company says the phone is waterproof for up to 30 minutes in 6 feet of water and can withstand a dust storm for up to 8 hours. The phone has “Military Standard 810G protection against dust, shock, vibration, temperature extremes, blowing rain, low pressure, solar radiation, salt fog, humidity, blowing rain and water immersion,” according to Kyocera so you really should be able to take it into battle (and/or your daily life).
Sapphire Shield Screen
Sapphire glass is a hot topic in tech due to its scratch resistance. Stronger than any substance other than diamond on the hardness spectrum, sapphire glass is more expensive than most types of glass. Sapphire glass hasn’t been widely adopted by cell phone manufacturers though Apple has announced plans to use sapphire glass on certain models of its Apple Watch.
The Brigadier is the first affordable phone to use sapphire glass for its screen. Kyocera has named this feature “Sapphire Shield.”
The glass is so strong that you won’t need a screen protector, whatever you put on it will be weaker than the sapphire glass itself.
Watch as Brad Molen from Engadget puts the Brigadier’s Sapphire Shield through an impressive torture test:
The flaps covering the phone’s ports are important in protecting the phone from the elements, but could become a hassle when you’re charging the phone. The good news is that the phone offers inductive charging. Place the phone on its charging mat instead of plugging it in to charge the battery.
If your work involves wearing gloves, you’ll enjoy that the Brigadier can be used when you’re wearing gloves, even when the phone is wet. Rubber gloves, winter gloves, it doesn’t matter, the phone will recognize your taps and swipes.
Fans of physical buttons will appreciate the design of the Brigadier. The phone offers physical buttons for back, home and recent apps on the front and a camera button on the right side. You’ll find a power button as well as a speaker phone button on the top edge of the phone. The left side has the volume buttons and the most useful and innovative phone button ever invented: the programmable button.
This is a “why didn’t someone think of this sooner?” feature that will quickly make you a fan of this phone. The red button on the left side of the phone is programmable to be pretty much whatever you want it to be. Fingers crossed that this becomes a standard feature on all phones in the future…
You can make the red button open your “go to” app, such as email, maps, music, Facebook or your favorite game. The button can also tun into a power button, in case you prefer to turn on the phone from a side button rather than the top. You can also program it to show recent apps or open Google.
Programming the button is as easy as it gets. Go to Settings => Programmable Key and choose which function you want it to have. The choice is entirely yours.
For example, you can assign the flashlight app to the red button. Press the button to turn on the flashlight and open the flashlight app. With the app open, you can keep pressing the button to turn the flashlight on and off, to send Morse code or turn your phone into a strobe light.
The phone comes complete with a barometer which you can access using the barometer app. View the barometric pressure and your altitude in this app. This feature can also be used for fitness apps to track your activity level.
The Brigadier has an 8 MP rear camera and 2 MP front camera. You can access the camera easily by using the button on the right side of the phone.
Here are some sample photos I took with the Brigadier:
The phone is equipped with a 3100mAh battery which can’t be removed. The ability to swap batteries is sacrificed for protection against the elements. You can always invest in an external battery pack, but you can’t protect against the elements to the degree that the Brigadier does.
Battery life is impressive. According to Kyocera the battery life is:
- Talk time: up to 20 hours
- Standby time: Up to 365 hours (15.21 days)
You can extend the battery life by using Brigadier’s power saving features, including MaxiMZR which stops updates for apps you haven’t used in the past week. You can also use Eco Mode which conserves power by adjusting screen brightness and other settings, either constantly or when the battery drops below a certain level.
You can also charge the phone more quickly when you’re connected to a computer by using Connectivity Mode. Go to Settings => Connectivity => Charge only. The phone will not attempt to transfer data to maximize charging speed.
The Kyocera Brigadier is available exclusively on Verizon for:
- $99 with a two-year contract
- $399.99 off-contract
You can have it in any color so long as it’s black.
The wireless charge pad is sold separately from Kyocera for $39.99.
Do you like the idea of a durable phone? Do you like that the Brigadier is waterproof and dustproof? Do you like that you can use it when you’re wearing gloves? What would you use the programmable button for? Let us know in the Comments section below!
One of my favorite developers has been at it again, launching a new Halloween version of his addictive app Ball Smash! If you’re looking for a fun puzzle app that’s easy to learn but challenging to master, check out Halloween Smash!
The app is available free for:
Stay tuned to The Wonder of Tech for news about the launch of Halloween Smash! in the iTunes App store.
As you may have guessed, I programmed the red button on the Brigadier to open Halloween Smash! for review purposes, of course!
See, Ball Smash! My Favorite Game Ever! to learn more about Ball Smash!