The Kyocera Event is an inexpensive smartphone, even for Virgin Mobile. It lists for $59.99, and right now you can get it online for just over $40 without a contract. If a fully functioning Android-powered smartphone for just 40 bucks sounds too good to be true, that’s because, in a way, it is. The Kyocera Event will do almost everything you want it to, but it’s below average in nearly every regard. There’s no denying it’s a great price, but it comes at the cost of quality.
Design and Call Quality
The Kyocera Event measures 4.53 by 2.41 by 0.46 inches (HWD) and weighs 4.1 ounces. It’s light and comfortable to hold, but the cheap plastic build makes it feel like you can break the phone just by setting it down too hard. I didn’t put this to the test, but I did accidentally raise the plastic casing on the front lip of the phone in an attempt to remove the battery cover. That was my mistake, as there’s an indent to remove the back panel on the side of the phone, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t easy to pry off the front as well. None of this means the phone is going to spontaneously shatter in your hand, but even if it does, it’ll only cost $40 to replace it.
Build aside, the Kyocera Event has a standard black slab design, with a textured, rubberized back panel. The 3.5-inch display is bracketed by a sizable amount of bezel on the top and bottom. The screen features 480-by-320-pixel resolution, which was standard among low-end phones a couple of years ago, and looks extremely dated today. Text and images look fuzzy, and even with the brightness set to max, there’s a faintly yellow look to everything.
There are three haptic feedback-enabled capacitive function keys below the screen, which work fine. The on-screen keyboard features Swype, but is still small enough that I often found myself pressing the wrong key.
The Event is a 3G device. Virgin uses Sprint’s nationwide 3G network, which can be extremely slow. There’s also 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, which helps. Reception is average, and call quality is mixed. Voices get loud in the earpiece, but sound thin, fuzzy, and digitized. On the other end, calls made with the phone are a little fuzzy, but otherwise decent and feature average noise cancellation. The speakerphone goes loud enough to hear outdoors. Calls sounded fine through a Jawbone Era Bluetooth headset, and voice dialing worked well. Battery life was solid at 9 hours and 23 minutes of talk time.
Android and Apps
The Event is powered by a single-core 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S2 MSM8655 processor, which is about as middle-of-road as you can get. Benchmark scores are on par with similarly equipped devices, meaning average, though overall performance feels pretty smooth. This isn’t a great phone for gaming, but you should be able to run most basic apps without a problem. On the other hand, I did encounter a few random crashes throughout my testing period, a couple of which required me to pull the battery on the phone to get it to restart.
The phone is running a relatively stock build of Android 4.0.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich), without an overlay from Kyocera. This is both good and bad news. We like stock Android, as some manufacturer customizations can really muck things up. But Ice Cream Sandwich is getting long in the tooth. I would’ve much preferred to see Android 4.1 or 4.2 (Jelly Bean), which contains a host of major improvements and new features like Google Now. Alas, there’s no talk of an upgrade, so you shouldn’t hold out any hope.
As it stands, you’re getting an ICS phone with very little bloatware. Virgin has added MobileID, which allows you to install various “ID packs” on your phone that include applications, ringtones, wallpapers, and widgets. There’s also an Eco Mode app for battery management, which allows you to control a number of power-saving features, which are rated on a scale of green leaves. The phone itself is certified by UL Environment for being made with environmentally friendly materials with a minimal environmental impact.
Multimedia, Camera, and Conclusions
There’s 1.22GB of free internal storage and an empty microSD card located underneath the phone’s battery. It was able to read my 32GB SanDisk card, but not my 64GB card. The Event was able to play AAC, MP3, OGG, and WAV music files, but not FLAC or WMA. Audio quality was fine over a pair of standard 3.5mm earphones as well as an Altec Lansing Backbeat Bluetooth headset. All of our standalone video files played back at resolutions up to 800-by-480, except for DivX.
The 3.2-megapixel camera comes with an LED flash but lacks autofocus. It snaps photos quickly, in just 0.2 second, but quality is all over the place. Photos taken indoors manage to look dark and washed out at the same time. Quality is better outside, or indoors with very good lighting. In those instances the camera can capture a good amount of detail, but ultimately photos are utilitarian. The camera also records video, which again, varies widely in quality, though resolution is an underwhelming 800-by-480 across the board. Video recorded indoors is unusable, at an unintentionally slo-mo-looking 10 frames per second. Video taken outside jumps up to 30 fps, but still fails to impress.
Ultimately, Kyocera and Virgin are hoping to get customers through the door here with price. And while the Kyocera Event will do pretty much everything you expect a smartphone to do, it never rises above the level of mediocrity. Unfortunately, your other budget options on Virgin don’t fare much better. The Kyocera Rise is basically the Kyocera Event with a keyboard. The LG Optimus Elite and the LG Optimus V are both still running the hopelessly outdated Android 2.3 (Gingerbread); you’re better off with the Event. So while it’s a lot pricier, your best bet is to pony up the cash for a Samsung Galaxy Victory 4G LTE. It has support for Sprint’s 4G LTE network, along with a larger, more attractive display, a better camera, and a faster processor.
|Phone Capability / Network||CDMA|
|Screen Resolution||480 x 320 pixels|
|Dimensions||4.53 x 2.41 x 0.46 inches|
|Video Camera Resolution||WVGA|
|Battery Life (As Tested)||9 hours 23 minutes|
|Available Integrated Storage||1.22 GB|
|Processor Speed||1 GHz|
|CPU||Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8655|
|Total Integrated Storage||4 GB|
|High-Speed Data||EVDO Rev A, CDMA 1X|
|Screen Type||IPS LCD|
|Operating System as Tested||Android 4.0.4|
|Screen Pixels Per Inch||164 ppi|
|Form Factor||Candy Bar|
|Screen Size||3.5 inches|
|Bluetooth Version||2.1 + EDR|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc