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Kyocera, Sprint Ready Their First Ruggedized 4G Smartphone

San Diego — Kyocera Communications and Sprint will launch their first 4G ruggedized smartphone sometime in the spring.

The LTE-equipped Android-based Torque, whose price hasn’t been released, is targeted not only to enterprise customers but, in a shift, also to consumers interested in a rugged phone, said Eric Anderson, Kyocera’s global sales and marketing senior VP/general manager.

Targeted consumers include outdoor-sports enthusiasts, beachgoers and anyone with a hectic schedule, he said. “Kyocera has taken the most robust, rugged MilSpec features and combined them with our easy-to-use, affordable, Android smartphone designs to create a durable mobile device that supports not only the construction foreman using Sprint Direct Connect [push-to-talk] but also the outdoor sports enthusiast or the busy mom or dad who’s juggling children and playground duties.”

At 4.44 inches by 2.38 inches by 0.56 inches, the 5.5-ounce full-touchscreen phone is only slightly larger than a standard smartphone but “is smaller than taking a standard smartphone and putting it in one of the ruggedized cases on the market,” a spokesman added.

The phone is Kyocera’s first 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 dramatically increases the clarity and intelligibility of incoming calls in noisy environments such as construction sites, sporting events, concerts and playgrounds, the company said. The technology effectively turns the whole front face of a phone into a speaker so users can press the phone against their ear to block out ambient noise while conducting a conversation, a spokesman said.

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

The phone meets IP67 and Military Standard 810G (MilSpec) standards for protection against water jets and full water immersion for up to 30 minutes in up to 3 feet of water. It also protects against dust, shock, vibration, temperature extremes, blowing rain, low pressure, solar radiation, salt, fog and humidity, the company said.

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 Android 4.0 OS, 1GB RAM, 4GB ROM, 32GB SD card slot, 4-inch WVGA 800 by 480 LCD touchscreen, dual-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, nearfield communication, 5-megapixel rear-facing camera, 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera, enhanced camera features including panorama and high dynamic range, 3G/4G mobile hot spot capability, 2,500 mAh battery, HD Voice, Bluetooth 4.0 LE/EDR and Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n.