San Diego — Kyocera Communications is expanding its Hydro series of waterproof smartphones and offering its first Verizon-network phone since 2007 with the launch of the Hydro Elite.
The LTE-equipped Android 4.1 smartphone will retail for $99 beginning Aug. 29 through Verizon Wireless online, telesales and authorized premium retailers, as well as through Best Buy’s website and Amazon.com, a Kyocera spokesperson said. Broader availability starts in early September.
Besides the Hydro Elite, the Hydro series consists of the original Hydro, a 3G phone launched August 2012 at $199 without contract by Boost Mobile and now priced at $69 without a contract. The Elite also joins the 3G Hydro Edge, launched last month by Boost at $149 without a contract and at Sprint for free after $50 mail-in rebate with contract.
The Hydro series is rounded out by the LTE-equipped Hydro Xtrm, launched May 2013 on the U.S. Cellular network for $29 with contract.
The Elite is Kyocera’s third LTE smartphone for the U.S. market. The others are the Hydro Xtrm and the Kyocera Torque, a MilSpec ruggedized waterproof smartphone launch by Sprint in 2013.
Kyocera’s waterproof phones are protected from blowing rain and immersion in up to 3.28 feet of water for as long as 30 minutes.
The Hydro Elite features a 4.3-inch 1,280 by 720 HD display and Smart Sonic receiver technology, which consists of a ceramic actuator that replaces the phone’s speaker to make the phone audible even in the noisiest environments, the company said.
The phone is global-ready, thanks to the inclusion of foreign frequency bands for GSM voice and HSPA+ data.
Other features include dual-core 1.5GHz processor, 16GB embedded memory, Qi wireless charging, Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ with dual-band N, MHL connector, DLNA, Bluetooth 4.0 and nearly 10 of standby time. Mobile hot spot capability connects up to 10 devices to the LTE network or up five devices to a 3G network.
Hydro Elite also features DLNA, Touch-and-Send nearfield communications (NFC) technology sharing, and an Eco Mode to maximize use of the phone’s 2,100 mAh battery. It also comes with 8-megapixel HD main camera with 1080p video capture, 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera and 32GB memory card slot.
A starter mode user interface is designed for use by first-time smartphone users.