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Kyocera First With Sapphire Smartphone

San Diego — Kyocera will be the first company to market with a mass-market smartphone equipped with rugged sapphire crystal display.

The company’s midtier Android-based Brigadier will be available August 7 in Verizon stores, big-box retailers and Verizon enterprise channels at $99 with two-year contract.

Sapphire is second only to diamonds in hardness, is virtually scratchproof, and protects against impact damage, the company said. It’s also said to protect against scratches from keys in a pocket and face-down drops.

Brigadier is not the first smartphone in the U.S. or the world with sapphire display, a spokesman said, but it is the first mass-market phone with such a display. Very high-end smartphones at $10,000 and more have been available from Vertu and Gresso with sapphire displays, the spokesman noted.

Unlike other midrange Android phones, he said, the Brigadier features MilSpec 810G rating for resistance to shock/drops, vibration, and extreme temperature; IP68 certification for protection from dust and full immersion in up to 6 feet of water for up to 30 minutes; and ability for the touchscreen to operate when wet or when someone is wearing gloves.

Brigadier is global-ready and also XLTE-ready for use on the Verizon XLTE network.

Other key features include 4.5-inch 720p touchscreen, Android 4.4, 1.4GHz quad-core CPU and 2GB RAM.

It also features dual front speakers and proprietary Smart Sonic Receiver technology, which replaces a traditional speaker with a ceramic actuator to transmit sound vibrations directly to the eardrum. The technology dramatically increases the clarity and intelligibility of incoming calls in noisy environments and 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, the company said.

Kyocera, known for waterproof and ruggedized smartphones, said it has 41 years of experience synthesizing man-made sapphire for electronic components, LED lighting and high-end wrist watches.