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Kyocera, Sprint Price Their First Rugged LTE Smartphone

 San Diego – Kyocera Communications and Sprint will launch their first 4G ruggedized smartphone on March 8 at $99 through all of the carrier’s retail distribution channels.

The LTE-equipped Android 4.1-based Torque is targeted not only to enterprise customers but, in a shift, also to consumers interested in a rugged phone. Targeted consumers include outdoor-sports enthusiasts, beachgoers and anyone with a hectic schedule, and they won’t need a $50-70 third-party case to protect the device, Kyocera said.

Torque features Sprint Direct Connect push-to-talk service and meets Military Standard 810G (MilSpec) to withstand dust, shock, vibration, solar radiation, humidity, blowing rain, low pressure, salt fog and extreme temperatures. It also meets IP67 standards for dust, sprayed water and full immersion in water of up to one meter deep for up to 30 minutes.

The 5.5-ounce full-touchscreen phone is Kyocera’s first phone in the U.S. with Smart Sonic Receiver audio technology, which replaces a traditional speaker with a technology that transmits sounds directly to the eardrum. The technology is said to dramatically increase the clarity and intelligibility of incoming calls in noisy environments such as construction sites, sporting events, concerts and playgrounds.

 The phone uses a piezo-electric ceramic transducer that vibrates the front panel to create soundwaves as a traditional speaker does, but the technology simultaneously transmits vibrations through hard and soft human tissue directly to the eardrum, he explained.

The housing features reinforced corners, and the phone is encased in a rubber, non-slip Dura-Grip material for a sure hold and extra durability. The IPS capacitive touchscreen uses impact-resistant glass.

Other key features include 1GB RAM, 4GB ROM, 32GB SD card slot, 4-inch WVGA 800×480 LCD touchscreen, dual-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, Near Field Communication (NFC), 5-megapixel rear-facing camera, 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera, enhanced camera features including panorama and high dynamic range (HDR), 3G/4G mobile hotspot capability, 2,500mAh battery, HD Voice, Bluetooth 4.0 LE/EDR, and Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n.

Talk time is up to 18.9 hours.

Sprint offers LTE service in 58 markets.