Kyocera Brigadier With Sapphire Can Handle What Life Throws at It

By Michelle Maisto  |  Posted 2014-08-15 Print this article Print

Amid reports that Apple's next iPhone will feature a sapphire display, Kyocera has been getting the word out that it has 41 years of experience growing man-made sapphire crystals and other gemstones to make long-lasting products. Sapphire, said Kyocera, is the second-hardest mineral in the world (diamond, the first, is too pricy for smartphone displays), and its crystalline structure "makes it virtually scratch-proof." To help prove this, and to tout the Kyocera Brigadier, a rugged Android smartphone with a Sapphire Shield display, Verizon Wireless recently sent journalists a press kit designed for abusing the Brigadier. The Brigadier isn't light or thin or attractive, but it is nearly indestructible and a strong fit for field service, military or any vertical where a phone is likely to be dropped, bashed, mistakenly thrown into a toolbox or plunged into water—and where push-to-talk capabilities are considered a boon. This isn't a review so much as a very hands-on testament to the strength of sapphire glass—and the Brigadier.

  • Kyocera Brigadier With Sapphire Can Handle What Life Throws at It

    By Michelle Maisto
    Kyocera Brigadier With Sapphire Can Handle What Life Throws at It
  • Meet the Kyocera Brigadier From Verizon Wireless

    Verizon sent some members of the press a kit welcoming them to abuse the Kyocera Brigadier, a rugged Android smartphone with a Sapphire Shield display. Rumors say Apple will use the same material on what's popularly referred to as the iPhone 6.
    Meet the Kyocera Brigadier From Verizon Wireless
  • The Knife Test

    While most phones aren't prone to knife attacks, it's impressive to know the Brigadier can survive one—as well as anything sharp being dragged across its surface, or an impact with a fine, sharp object. One can imagine a distracted field service worker throwing a phone into a toolbox and having it meet up with a screwdriver head.
    The Knife Test
  • The Brillo Test

    A pot-bottom-style scrubbing with steel wool resulted in … nothing. It was like I'd wiped the Brigadier with a tissue.
    The Brillo Test
  • The Old Coin Scratch Test

    The only resulting evidence on having been shook up in a bag with coins and a bottle opener were a few burlap threads on the screen of the Brigadier.
    The Old Coin Scratch Test
  • Bag-o-Rocks Test

    The press kit included a bag of rocks and a jar. I placed the rocks and the Kyocera Brigadier in the jar and shook things up. This test felt the most brutal of all, particularly with each smack of the top of the phone in to the jar lid.
    Bag-o-Rocks Test
  • Taking the Plunge

    Then, it was time to wash off those burlap threads. The Brigadier, which has plastic covers over its ports, was unaffected.
    Taking the Plunge
  • Some Details

    The Kyocera Brigadier has a 4.5-inch HD touch-screen that's readable in bright sunlight and runs Android KitKat (4.4). It measures 5.37 by 2.69 by 0.52 and weighs 6.6 ounces. It can act as a mobile hotspot, offers simultaneous voice and 4G LTE data, has Isis Mobile Wallet on board and is a global phone.
    Some Details
  • It's Also a Flashlight

    On the left is the lens of the Brigadier's 8-megapixel rear camera. The camera on the front is 2 megapixels. To the right of the camera lens is a dedicated flashlight, accessible via one of the phone's home screens.
    It's Also a Flashlight
  • Charging Port

    On the bottom of the phone is its charging port. Thanks to a tiny indent to its side, usable with even very short nails, it's very easy to open, which isn't often the case with phones approved for water use.
    Charging Port
  • Audio Jack

    On the top of the Brigadier is the speaker button, secondary microphone, audio jack and power button.
    Audio Jack
  • MicroSD Onboard

    On one side are the microSD and SIM card slots, plus a dedicated camera button, but when using the camera, there's also the option of an on-screen shutter button.
    MicroSD Onboard
  • The Magic Key

    On the phone's other side are the volume buttons and a bright-red key that can be programmed to do various things. In cases where the phone's push-to-talk (PTT) functionality is useful, this button makes sense. But it can also be programmed to do things like launch the camera or just turn on the phone—more simply than touching the tinier power button up top.
    The Magic Key
  • Speakers

    Likely with the optional PTT capability in mind, Kyocera gave the Brigadier very loud speakers. Gorgeously crisp? No, but definitely loud.
  • Verizon Wireless

    The waterproof, dust-proof, kid-proof Kyocera Brigadier is available from Verizon Wireless for $49.99 with a two-year contract, or with Verizon's Edge offer for 20 monthly payments of $19.99. While not intended to compete with the iPhone, the sapphire-featuring Brigadier can give iPhone lovers hope that their next phone's face-plant onto concrete will result in nothing that a tissue can't wipe off.
    Verizon Wireless
Michelle Maisto has been covering the enterprise mobility space for a decade, beginning with Knowledge Management, Field Force Automation and eCRM, and most recently as the editor-in-chief of Mobile Enterprise magazine. She earned an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University, and in her spare time obsesses about food. Her first book, The Gastronomy of Marriage, if forthcoming from Random House in September 2009.

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