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Kyocera Torque Smartphone Review

Florian Wimmer, Stefanie Voigt (translated by Liala Stieglitz), 05/08/2015

Testosterone phone. The Kyocera Torque is quite a handful: The ruggedized smartphone does not believe in slim lines but rather in protection in compliance with military standards, innovations and business features. More about that in the report.

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For the original German review, see here.

Until now, German consumers and companies have known Kyocera mainly for its printers. The Japanese company, however, also produces kitchen knives, solar power systems and smartphones. The first device on the European market is a ruggedized smartphone that is focused primarily on business customers with its innovative features. Thanks to extensive support for VPN and Exchange, as well as its well-conceived features for use on the construction site or in the factory, it might even be successful.

We have not yet tested many ruggedized smartphones: Samsung's Xcover 2 is one of the few representatives, and it is considerably cheaper than our review sample. It successor is now in our test lab. Meanwhile many devices are water and dust resistant, for example Samsung's Galaxy S5 Mini or Sony's Xperia Z3 Compact.

Kyocera Torque
Graphics adapter
Memory
2048 MB 
Display
4.5 inch 16:9, 1280 x 720 pixel, capacitive touchscreen, glove mode and usability in wet state, IPS, glossy: yes
Storage
16 GB eMMC Flash, 16 GB 
, 11.7 GB free
Connections
1 USB 2.0, Audio Connections: 3.5 mm combo audio jack, Card Reader: microSD max. 128GB, Sensors: motion sensor, light sensor, proximity sensor, compass, NFC, GPS, Glonass, BeiDou
Networking
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.0, GSM quad-band (850/900/1800/1900), UMTS quad-band (850/900/1900/2100), LTE quad-band (800/1800/2100/2600); LTE Cat. 4 max. 150 MBps (down), max. 50 MBps (up); SAR rate: 0.556W/kg (head), 0.537W/kg (body)
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 13.5 x 136 x 68 ( = 0.53 x 5.35 x 2.68 in)
Battery
12 Wh Lithium-Ion, 3100 mAh, wireless charging (Qi), Battery runtime (according to manufacturer): 1000 h, Standby 2G (according to manufacturer): 950 h, Standby 3G (according to manufacturer): 810 h
Operating System
Android 4.4 KitKat
Camera
Webcam: 2.0MP (front); 8.0MP, AF, LED flash, videos @1080p/30fps (rear)
Additional features
Speakers: two front-sided speakers, Keyboard: virtual keyboard, headset, 24 Months Warranty, MIL-STD-810G certified, IP68 certified, VPN protocols, EXCHANGE ACTIVE SYNC (EAS), MOBILE DEVICE MANAGEMENT (MDM), DLNA, Miracast, OTG
Weight
182 g ( = 6.42 oz / 0.4 pounds), Power Supply: 63 g ( = 2.22 oz / 0.14 pounds)
Price
449 Euro
Note: The manufacturer may use components from different suppliers including display panels, drives or memory sticks with similar specifications.

 

Case

The smartphone doesn't mind water.
The smartphone doesn't mind water.

It is apparent that it is designed to attract engineers, suggested by the visible screws and stealth look on the back. A metal ring also encircles the camera, and the front-sided buttons feature a carbon look. Kyocera's Torque is not slim, either; it is thick measuring 13.5 millimeters (~0.5 inches). The stiffness is impressive, but pressure on the screen quickly becomes visible in the liquid crystals. Thus, the touchscreen might be a weakness in the robust design. The rear cover is not removable, and the battery cannot be replaced.

Then again, the casing has quite a bit to offer. All interfaces are sealed with rubber flaps, which also indicate that the casing is waterproof. It is in fact dust resistant in compliance with the IP 6X standard and waterproof in compliance with the IPX5 and IPX8 standards. That means that the smartphone can be immersed in fresh water for several minutes without problems. Furthermore, the device is protected against shock, salt fog, humidity, solar radiation, low air pressure, and both high and low temperatures in compliance with MIL-STD-810G.

These specs naturally prompted us to put it to the test. We dropped the smartphone from 1.5 meters (nearly five feet) on the floor and submerged it in fresh water for 1:30 minutes. Kyocera's Torque withstood both tests without damage. Besides that, the touchscreen cannot be used under water, but it can be used in a wet state.

Connectivity

2 GB of RAM are decent, and 16 GB of storage are also sufficient, but can also be expanded by up to 128 GB via a micro-SD card. However, it is not possible to move apps to the SD card. The near field communication standard NFC is also installed. Support for VPN networks, so accessing closed networks from other locations, will certainly interest business customers. Additionally, the smartphone supports Microsoft's Exchange server that is frequently used in companies, and it also supports the standard for Mobile Device Management, which will please system administrators.

Even the software's design is striking
Even the software's design is striking

Software

The software is based on Android 4.4, but the user interface has evidently been modified to reflect the smartphone's Industrial design with machine parts and an orange glow. The phone and camera can be accessed directly from the lock screen or, of course, the smartphone can be unlocked. A few widgets are found on the home screen, which also feature the Industrial look and enable accessing different functions quickly.

Overall, Android has only been modified a little so that everyone who has used an Android phone will manage well.

There is an energy-saving plan that limits various background features either from a specified battery state or manually. A barometer app that displays air pressure and altitude is also preloaded.

GPS indoors
GPS indoors
GPS outdoors
GPS outdoors

Communication & GPS 

Kyocera's Torque supports four networks in GSM, UMTS and LTE. The reception was good, and we usually had the full or 3/4 of the signal even indoors in an urban area using the German E-Plus network.

Kyocera's Torque is exemplary in Wi-Fi and supports high-speed 802.11 ac networks. The reception was below average. Only 1/4 of the signal was available 10 meters (~33 feet) away from the router. Websites opened considerably slower than in the router's vicinity.

The GPS module could not locate us indoors and also needed quite some time to connect with enough satellites outdoors. We were then tracked with an accuracy of 13 meters (~43 feet); other smartphones achieve better results here.

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Telephone & Voice Quality

The phone app has been redesigned slightly. The keypad is shown first, where two tabs are found at the top for incoming and outgoing calls. A link for contacts is in the lower left. The app can generally be used logically and is quite self-explanatory.

The voice quality was more convincing at our end than at our contact's. We sounded a bit muffled and unclear due to the middling microphone. The sound was a bit subdued but still well intelligible at our end. Kyocera provides an innovative technology that is to deliver an intelligible sound even in loud constructions site environments or a busy factory facility. A ceramic part transforms sound into vibrations that are directly brought to the ear when holding the smartphone against it and makes speech considerably more intelligible. The entire screen then acts like a speaker.

Our contact was in fact understood well in a test with loud background noise, and the unusual sound transmission was not noticed, either. Furthermore, two rather prominent speakers that can reproduce the called party with up to 100 dB(A) are located below the screen. The speaker can be enabled via a button at the smartphone's upper edge. They are actually very loud and deliver a clear sound.

Cameras & Multimedia

The rear-facing 8-megapixel camera shoots good, focused and reasonably color-accurate pictures. However, the image quality decreases in low light. The pictures blur slightly due to the long exposure time. Besides that, the color reproduction is too blue. The front-facing 2-megapixel lens also takes decent pictures that are, however, a bit blurry in detail.

Recording 1080p videos with the rear-facing camera is possible, but only with 30 frames per second. Just like the pictures, the recordings are quite useful, focused, and have decent colors - at least when there is enough light.

Image Comparison

Choose a scene and navigate within the first image. One click changes the position on touchscreens. One click on the zoomed-in image opens the original in a new window. The first image shows the scaled photograph of the test device.

Scene 1Scene 2Scene 3
click to load images

Input Devices & Handling

Workers on construction sites or in factories often wear gloves. Kyocera considers this and equips its Torque with a very sensitive touchscreen that can be used accurately even when wearing thick gloves. That is of course also very convenient in the winter when the user does not want to take off his gloves. It is recommendable to put the phone in standby for a moment and then to unlock it again if it is to be used with gloves. Switching modes will not function when the device is first used in an unlocked state without gloves. The touchscreen is not oversensitive in normal use, and it is precise up in its corners.

The three physical buttons below the screen have a good pressure point and are large enough to use them accurately when wearing gloves. Many special physical keys are also positioned around the device: a camera button, a speaker button, and a big, soft key that can execute two different functions by short or long pressure.

Google's stock on-screen keyboard is preloaded, and is easy to use. However, it is quite awkward to type messages when wearing gloves. In that case, it is best to use Google's normal voice-to-text features.

Keyboard portrait mode
Keyboard portrait mode
Keyboard landscape mode
Keyboard landscape mode

Display

Since Kyocera's Torque will likely often be used outdoors, the manufacturer installs an extremely bright screen. We have only rarely measured an average of 722.1 cd/m²; none of the comparison devices can match that. White areas in routine use in maximum brightness blind the user, but the high brightness is very useful in direct sunlight. Additionally, the brightness distribution of 87% is homogeneous enough to prevent visible brightness differences on the screen.

714
cd/m²
747
cd/m²
766
cd/m²
726
cd/m²
723
cd/m²
710
cd/m²
666
cd/m²
709
cd/m²
738
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 766 cd/m² Average: 722.1 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 87 %
Center on Battery: 723 cd/m²
Contrast: 1112:1 (Black: 0.65 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 9.07 | 0.4-29.43 Ø6.2
ΔE Greyscale 8.92 | 0.64-98 Ø6.4
Gamma: 1.65
Kyocera Torque
Adreno 305, 400 MSM8928, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
Adreno 330, 801 MSM8974AC, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
Mali-400 MP4, 3470 Quad, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2 GT-S7710
Mali-400 MP, NovaThor U8500, 4 GB Flash
Screen
-1%
-10%
-12%
Brightness middle
723
513
-29%
288
-60%
334
-54%
Brightness
722
500
-31%
289
-60%
325
-55%
Brightness Distribution
87
94
8%
88
1%
86
-1%
Black Level *
0.65
0.41
37%
0.31
52%
Contrast
1112
1251
13%
1077
-3%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
9.07
8.54
6%
6.18
32%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
8.92
9.88
-11%
5.52
38%
Gamma
1.65 133%
3.03 73%
2.23 99%
CCT
8090 80%
8659 75%
7256 90%

* ... smaller is better

Kyocera has some room for improvement in the black level. 0.65 cd/m² is quite high, and thus black areas look dark gray. The contrast of 1112:1 is middling despite the extremely high brightness. We like the screen's color reproduction: The colors look vivid and rich.

We perform a detailed analysis of the color reproduction using the software CalMAN and the spectrophotometer. Unfortunately, a distinct bluish cast is visible even for the naked eye, and colors are generally displayed a few nuances too bright. The deviations to the reference rates of the sRGB color space are generally quite high; only red hues are rendered fairly naturally.

CalMAN ColorChecker
CalMAN ColorChecker
CalMAN Color Management
CalMAN Color Management
CalMan Grayscale
CalMAN Grayscale
CalMan Saturation Sweeps
CalMAN Saturation Sweeps

Apart from the fact that the reflections on the screen in direct sunlight are very strenuous for the eyes, the high maximum brightness still allows recognizing what is happening on the screen clearly even in bright surroundings. A matte surface would have made the outdoor suitability perfect, but it is good the way it is.

Content can be read perfectly even from very flat angles thanks to the IPS screen.

Outdoors
Outdoors
Viewing angles
Viewing angles

Performance

Kyocera's Torque fared well in our benchmarks owing to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 MSM8928. It is a mid-range SoC with four cores and a clock rate of 1.6 GHz. The Torque cannot keep up with the bulk power of Sony's Xperia Z3 Compact. However, it defeats both Samsung's Galaxy S5 Mini and Samsung's Galaxy Xcover 2 alike. The results are similar with the Adreno 305 graphics unit. We did not notice any stutters or lags in the operating system or in most apps we tested in the practical test. We will look at the gaming performance in the next section. The very swift storage must be mentioned; it even outruns the one in Sony's Xperia Z3 Compact.

Geekbench 3
32 Bit Multi-Core Score (sort by value)
Kyocera Torque
1331 Points ∼4%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
2670 Points ∼9% +101%
Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
1113 Points ∼4% -16%
32 Bit Single-Core Score (sort by value)
Kyocera Torque
396 Points ∼8%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
966 Points ∼21% +144%
Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
369 Points ∼8% -7%
3DMark
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Physics (sort by value)
Kyocera Torque
9072 Points ∼10%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
14404 Points ∼17% +59%
Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
8942 Points ∼10% -1%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Graphics Score (sort by value)
Kyocera Torque
4229 Points ∼1%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
21034 Points ∼4% +397%
Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
3047 Points ∼1% -28%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Score (sort by value)
Kyocera Torque
4798 Points ∼2%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
19082 Points ∼8% +298%
Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
3570 Points ∼2% -26%
GFXBench (DX / GLBenchmark) 2.7
1920x1080 T-Rex HD Offscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
Kyocera Torque
5.9 fps ∼0%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
27.2 fps ∼0% +361%
Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
6.6 fps ∼0% +12%
Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2 GT-S7710
1.1 fps ∼0% -81%
T-Rex HD Onscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
Kyocera Torque
10.7 fps ∼0%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
41.1 fps ∼1% +284%
Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
9.4 fps ∼0% -12%
Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2 GT-S7710
4 fps ∼0% -63%
GFXBench 3.0
off screen Manhattan Offscreen OGL (sort by value)
Kyocera Torque
1.7 fps ∼0%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
11.9 fps ∼0% +600%
on screen Manhattan Onscreen OGL (sort by value)
Kyocera Torque
3.9 fps ∼0%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
25.5 fps ∼1% +554%
Sunspider - 1.0 Total Score (sort by value)
Kyocera Torque
1701 ms * ∼19%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
825.5 ms * ∼9% +51%
Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
1119 ms * ∼12% +34%
Octane V2 - Total Score (sort by value)
Kyocera Torque
2755 Points ∼6%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
5294 Points ∼11% +92%
Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
2019 Points ∼4% -27%
Mozilla Kraken 1.1 - Total Score (sort by value)
Kyocera Torque
13209 ms * ∼22%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
6528 ms * ∼11% +51%
Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
15201 ms * ∼26% -15%
AndroBench 3-5
Random Write 4KB (sort by value)
Kyocera Torque
10 MB/s ∼4%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
1.6 MB/s ∼1% -84%
Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
1.28 MB/s ∼1% -87%
Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2 GT-S7710
0.99 MB/s ∼0% -90%
Random Read 4KB (sort by value)
Kyocera Torque
20 MB/s ∼12%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
14.7 MB/s ∼8% -26%
Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
9.99 MB/s ∼6% -50%
Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2 GT-S7710
8.66 MB/s ∼5% -57%
Sequential Write 256KB (sort by value)
Kyocera Torque
45 MB/s ∼18%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
17.5 MB/s ∼7% -61%
Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
15.2 MB/s ∼6% -66%
Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2 GT-S7710
16.08 MB/s ∼6% -64%
Sequential Read 256KB (sort by value)
Kyocera Torque
155 MB/s ∼17%
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
133 MB/s ∼15% -14%
Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
79.6 MB/s ∼9% -49%
Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2 GT-S7710
32.65 MB/s ∼4% -79%

Legend

 
Kyocera Torque Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 MSM8928, Qualcomm Adreno 305, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AC, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Samsung Galaxy S5 mini Samsung Exynos 3470 Quad, ARM Mali-400 MP4, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2 GT-S7710 ST-Ericsson NovaThor U8500, ARM Mali-400 MP, 4 GB Flash

* ... smaller is better

Games

It is possible to play quite well on Kyocera's Torque. Demanding 3D games, such as "Asphalt 8", might not always achieve absolutely lag-free frame rates, but the game is quite playable overall. We did not have any problems with more moderate games like "Candy Crush" or "Angry Birds". Control via touchscreen and position sensor was also very accurate.

Runs well, but not completely lag-free: "Asphalt 8"
Runs well, but not completely lag-free: "Asphalt 8"

Emissions

Temperature

Kyocera's Torque remained slightly warm, even in idle mode. Particularly the screen on the front reached up to 37.7 degrees Celsius (99.86 Fahrenheit), which is noticeable but not unpleasant. The back remained considerably cooler. This behavior is identical during load. We measured a maximum of 44.3 degrees (111.74 Fahrenheit) on the front. Since the phone is usually held from the back where it is cooler, this is not a serious problem. Overall, the temperature increase under load is very palpable, but does not get unpleasant here, either.

Max. Load
 42.8 °C
109 F
43.7 °C
111 F
41.2 °C
106 F
 
 44.3 °C
112 F
43 °C
109 F
42.1 °C
108 F
 
 42.2 °C
108 F
42.5 °C
109 F
42 °C
108 F
 
Maximum: 44.3 °C = 112 F
Average: 42.6 °C = 109 F
33 °C
91 F
35.8 °C
96 F
37.3 °C
99 F
33.8 °C
93 F
37.4 °C
99 F
37.8 °C
100 F
33.5 °C
92 F
37.5 °C
100 F
37.7 °C
100 F
Maximum: 37.8 °C = 100 F
Average: 36 °C = 97 F
Power Supply (max.)  34.9 °C = 95 F | Room Temperature 21.5 °C = 71 F | Voltcraft IR-260
(-) The average temperature for the upper side under maximal load is 42.6 °C / 109 F, compared to the average of 33.1 °C / 92 F for the devices in the class Smartphone.
(±) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 44.3 °C / 112 F, compared to the average of 35.6 °C / 96 F, ranging from 22.4 to 51.7 °C for the class Smartphone.
(+) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 37.8 °C / 100 F, compared to the average of 34.1 °C / 93 F
(±) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 35.3 °C / 96 F, compared to the device average of 33.1 °C / 92 F.

Speakers

Both speakers should be able to deliver up to 100 dB(A) so that communicating via hands-free mode is possible even in loud surroundings. A short test with a sound-level measuring device indeed displayed almost 100 dB(A). The speakers deliver a very loud and clear sound that is quite suitable for listening to music. Kyocera also includes a headset. It is conveniently an in-ear model that subdues external noise. Its sound is also decent.

Energy Management

Power Consumption

Kyocera's smartphone is not exactly frugal with energy. It consumes significantly more power than some more powerful rivals. That will very likely also be due to the extremely bright screen at least in the case of the load rates. However, we already measured a consumption rate of 0.2 watts in a deactivated state. It was 0.5 watts in standby, and idle mode reached up to 1.9 watts. The absolute peak consumption was 6 watts, which is twice as much as Samsung's Xcover 2.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.2 / 0.5 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 0.6 / 1.1 / 1.9 Watt
Load midlight 4 / 6 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Voltcraft VC 870

Battery Runtime

The battery in Kyocera's Torque also has a very generous capacity of 11.6 Wh, which enables the smartphone to easily last a day in mixed use, according to our experience. 7:26 hours can be expected when browsing via Wi-Fi. That is reasonable, but the comparison devices achieve much longer runtimes with their smaller batteries.

Battery Runtime
NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3
7h 26min
Load (maximum brightness)
2h 12min
Kyocera Torque
Adreno 305, 400 MSM8928, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
Adreno 330, 801 MSM8974AC, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
Mali-400 MP4, 3470 Quad, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2 GT-S7710
Mali-400 MP, NovaThor U8500, 4 GB Flash
Battery Runtime
31%
46%
84%
WiFi v1.3
446
Load
132
173
31%
193
46%
243
84%
WiFi
1326
849
643

Pros

+ Very robust
+ Water and dust proof
+ Extremely bright screen
+ Multitude of hardware buttons
+ Use with thick gloves possible
+ Underwater use possible
+ Intelligibility in loud surroundings
+ Support for business protocol
+ Decent cameras
+ Loud and good speakers

Cons

- Bulky casing
- Heavy
- Weak Wi-Fi reception
- Slow GPS
- Inaccurate color reproduction
- High power consumption

Verdict

In review: Kyocera Torque. Review sample courtesy of Cyberport.de
In review: Kyocera Torque. Review sample courtesy of Cyberport.de

The Torque is a successful debut for Kyocera on the European smartphone market. Of course, the device is primarily designed for use in adverse conditions, but is in no way tied to only that purpose. The loud speakers sound good even for music playback, the extremely bright screen is pleasing during leisure activities in the sun, and an accidental dip in the bathtub is no problem for the Torque.

Users will have to get used to the Industrial design. The device also makes a somewhat bulky impression next to an iPhone 6 or Samsung's Galaxy S6. However, the Torque has more advantages in terms of robustness and practical features in comparison. The multitude of physical keys, its usability with gloves and even with a wet screen, the superb voice transmission via vibrations directly in the ear, and the extensive support for business protocols let the Torque seem very suitable for many fields. We add 1% for the innovative features.

There are minor restrictions in voice quality, Wi-Fi reception and GPS accuracy. The color reproduction on the screen is not ideal, and the battery life could be better. Furthermore, the Torque's weight and dimensions are not exactly restrained, but that is just what gives the smartphone a very robust impression.

Buyers who find no delight in the design frills of Apple and co., but want a very reliable and virtually indestructible companion will find a life-long friend in the Torque that likes it when the going gets rough.

Kyocera Torque - 05/04/2015 v4(old)
Florian Wimmer

Chassis
89%
Keyboard
67 / 75 → 89%
Pointing Device
96%
Connectivity
51 / 60 → 85%
Weight
90%
Battery
86%
Display
84%
Games Performance
54 / 63 → 86%
Application Performance
25 / 70 → 36%
Temperature
83%
Noise
100%
Audio
79 / 91 → 87%
Camera
79%
Add Points
+1%
Average
70%
85%
Smartphone - Weighted Average

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Kyocera Torque Smartphone Review
Florian Wimmer, 2015-05- 8 (Update: 2018-05-15)