Sprint Launches Rugged Kyocera DuraPlus Phone With Direct Connect

The rugged Kyocera DuraPlus mobile phone on Sprint's network can survive in a meter of water and features Direct Connect push-to-talk connectivity.

Sprint and Kyocera Communications have unveiled the rugged Kyocera DuraPlus mobile phone to withstand the extreme conditions of military, public safety, construction and utility work.

The DuraPlus is one of the first phones to work with Sprint's new Direct Connect push-to-talk service. Sprint launched Direct Connect in the fourth quarter of 2011 to work with rugged devices from Motorola and Kyocera.

Introduced on Jan. 31, the DuraPlus conforms to military standard 810G, which means the unit can withstand dust, shock, vibration, temperature extremes and blowing rain. It can also survive immersion in 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes.

In addition, the phone incorporates an embedded LED flashlight with a separate power button to help workers navigate power outages and other emergencies in the dark.

The unit, which is candy-bar-shaped with a flat bottom for vehicle mounts, features a 1,650-mAh battery with up to 9.5 hours of battery life.

"Kyocera DuraPlus is the ideal device for use in the construction, public safety and utility industries that demand devices that stand up to the toughest work conditions while delivering industry-leading push-to-talk capabilities," said David Owens, vice president of product development for Sprint, in a statement.

"Kyocera designed DuraPlus from the ground up with demanding industrial and enterprise customers in mind," said Eric Anderson, senior vice president and general manager of sales and marketing at Kyocera, in a statement. "Simple things like an LED flashlight, multibay charging, freestanding operation and the ability to use application-specific accessories go a long way toward better productivity on the job site and out in the field."

On Oct. 20, Sprint launched the Motorola Admiral model with the Android 2.3 Gingerbread mobile operating system. The Admiral also features Direct Connect along with scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla glass.

Direct Connect's push-to-talk feature allows field personnel such as first responders and construction workers to communicate easily. Push to talk works across Sprint and Nextel networks. A push-to-talk "chirp" lets workers know that their call went through successfully. Sprint first announced Direct Connect on March 16, 2011.

With a feature called Guaranteed Talk Permit, Direct Connect allows users to push to talk with 20 subscribers simultaneously, Sprint reports. In addition, Availability Notification allows users to be notified when their party is available.

Several other vendors such as Casio and Sonim make rugged phones for extreme work environments.

Like the Kyocera DuraPlus, Sonim's XP3300 Force Phone is a candy-bar-shaped unit with rubberized edges.

The Sonim unit features near-field communications capabilities to allow workers in health care to identify patients and workers in shipping and security to track items.

Many rugged models are flip phones, like the Samsung Convoy 2, which Verizon Wireless offers. The Convoy 2 features dual microphones with noise cancellation, a convenient feature for construction workers in the field or first responders.

Kyocera's DuraPlus unit has a sturdy front-ported speakerphone for noisy environments. This feature should also come in handy for construction workers.

Sprint will begin offering the DuraPlus phone in the first half of 2012.

The Kyocera Dura series of rugged phones for harsh working environments also includes DuraMax, which was the first model to work with Direct Connect, Engadget reports.