King of the Hill – Kyocera DuraXV Extreme Review

Webster’s Dictionary defines Nomophobia as the “fear of being without access to a working cell phone.” While a generation of baby boomers may scoff at the notion, there still lies a large demographic of users suffering from smartphone addiction. Recently, minimalist phones have come to market to address the growing concern people have over the time lost to their pocket computers. Products like the Light Phone 2, Punkt MP02, Wise Phone, Sunbeam F1 and the upcoming Mudita Pure look to address those concerns. For all that these minimalist phones provide, one stands above the rest.

The Kyocera DuraXV Extreme

When I started looking into living a more digitally minimal life, I hadn't even considered the Kyocera Dura XV Extreme. With options like the Punkt MP02, Sunbeam F1 and the Light Phone 2 basking in the spot light, Kyocera wasn't even in the conversation. Why was that though? Well, it's not catered towards digital detoxers like those other devices, but it fits the mold better than most might expect, here's why.

Build Quality

While I personally haven't had any hands on time with the Punkt MP02 or the Light Phone 2, it's generally agreed upon in the voice phone community that the Kyocera is the durability champ. Don't believe me? Just watch this video put out by PC magazine showcasing the Kyocera's ruggedness. The Kyocera comes equipped with IP68 dust proof, waterproof up to 6.5 ft. for up to 30 minutes. It also meets military standard 810G for dust, shock, vibration, temperature extremes, blowing rain, low pressure, solar radiation, salt fog, humidity, freeze-thaw and icing/freezing rain. Nothing is taking down this phone. For the clumsy among you, this may be the perfect device for you.

Where it Matters

While military standards and IP-ratings sound great on paper they don't mean anything to some users. The Kyocera shines in other areas though that may be of interest. The Kyocera is curerently the only flip phone on the market to support Verizon's EVS audio codec as part of HD Voice. What does that mean for you? Crystal clear calls! Add to that the phone's incredibly powerful speakers and even speaker calls sound great, full and load with minimal background noise.

As if great calls weren't enough, the Kyocera boasts the best typing experience I've ever had the please of using on a flip phone. It's not just the great tactility of the keys(which are superb), it's also the great predictive text software that comes included. Once you come to grips with how XT9 predictive works, you'll be amazed at how quickly you can punch out a text.

What's a great texting experience if the battery can't handle it? Thanks to the 1770mah battery included, the phone is rated at 18 days of standby time and 49 hours of usage time. I was able to get 3 days of usage before needing a charge. Up to 4 days when usage was lighter. I generally kept my screen brightness at low and didn't make many calls.

Great call quality/reception, combined with a great keypad and battery life mean that there's a lot to love, this phone keeps on giving though with the option to expand the internal 16GB storage via the micro SD card slot under the battery. Say hello to pictures, wallpapers, music and more.

Like most flip phones you can customize the quick access to specific applications via the dpad. Kyocera goes a step further by adding two additional programmable keys on the side of the phone.

Where it Falls Short

While the Kyocera DuraXV Extreme is a great phone for many, it's not going to be for everyone. For starters, while it's rugged frame might be great for protection, others will see its bulk as a con. While shorter than your typical smartphone, the Kyocera is significantly thicker(a little over an inch thick) and will take up considerable space in your pockets.

The phone's display while a nice size at 2.6 inches, just can't compete with IPS LCD screens like those found on the Xiaomi Qin 1s and 1s Plus which it competes with. While the Kyocera's display gets decently bright, colors appear muted and viewing angles aren't the best. There's also no dark mode for the phone, even when enabled in developer settings.

While the phone includes features like email and a browser, but they're not always the most useful. The browser can't open all websites and freezes on others. Long emails can take a while to scroll through and aren't always formatted correctly.

The feature I found most annoying was when it came to receiving text messages. Even for a message as small as “hey.” I was forced to click on the message and open it for the notification to clear. While it was great when it came to longer messages and pictures, it was annoying for shorter messages and made the texting experience feel less intuitive when compared to it's younger sibling, the Kyocera Cadence LTE which doesn't have this quirk. Kyocera still pushes out updates to the phone(sparingly) so hopefully that will be corrected in the future.

How it all Stacks Up

While it's not as flashy as phones like the Mudita Pure, Light Phone 2 and Punkt MP02, it offers the average user more in terms of durability. While it may not have paid features like the Sunbeam F1's maps, weather application and voice to text feature, it gets close either side-loading Android apps, or using the built in browser.

Where it stands tallest among the competition is with its keypad, XT9 predictive text, HD Voice audio codec, and incredible speakers. In a world where flip phones mainly make calls and text, having these be the stand out features for the phone makes the most sense. If you're looking to ditch your smartphone and get your life back, the Kyocera DuraXV Extreme makes a great option to consider.

Some Things to Consider

For those of you using Verizon or one of it's MVNO's, you'll be just fine picking up the Kyocera DuraXV Extreme from either your carrier or Amazon. For those of you on AT&T or one of its MVNO's however, you'll want to pick up the Kyocera DuraXE Epic which is the same phone but with a slightly different exterior and band support. This version of the phone costs more at $270 vs $240 for the Verizon version. You'll also need to deal with AT&T's unlocking rules, and all that entails.

For those of you on T-Mobile, bad news. There is no T-Mobile version of the phone. In talks I've had with the company, there doesn't appear to be any plans to release a T-Mobile version. If that wasn't bad enough there's also no plans to release an unlocked version of the phone to market. If you want to change that, reach out to Kyocera directly and voice your interest.

Disclaimer: While the Kyocera DuraXV Extreme review sample was sent to me free of charge, this does not impact my review of the product. Kyocera does not get an early screening of this blog post, nor did they contribute to it. You are reading this review at the same time that they are.