The premium flagship of rugged phones?

$ 900 is a lot of money for a rugged phone. At this price point, it approaches premium flagship prices, not the $ 400-600 asking price we see for most work-friendly phones. So is the Kyocera Duraforce Ultra the premium flagship rugged phone? Find out in Android authorityKyocera’s Duraforce Ultra Review.

What you need to know about the Kyocera Duraforce Ultra

Kyocera Duraforce Ultra 5G 4

Luke Pollack / Android Authority

  • Kyocera Duraforce Ultra (8GB / 256GB): $ 899

Officially priced at $ 899, the Duraforce Ultra is the most expensive rugged phone on the market. It is only available in one option: 6 GB RAM with 128 GB storage, which can, however, be expanded up to 1 TB via a microSD card. The device currently ships with Android 10, and although Kyocera says it plans to upgrade to Android 11, there is no current schedule for this update. The Duraforce Ultra is unique among other rugged handsets in that it offers broad support for 5G including mmWave bands like Verizon’s 5G network.

On the hardware side, the Duraforce Ultra has a single covered USB-C port on the bottom, a SIM card slot, a power button that doubles as a fingerprint reader on the right side and two additional programmable buttons on the top and left side of the device. There is a 3.5 mm headphone jack at the top and a front-facing loudspeaker below the display. The Duraforce Ultra also offers support for wireless charging and can be charged from dead to full in just over 90 minutes with the included 27 W fast charger.

The Kyocera Duraforce Ultra is available directly from Kyocera, Verizon or third-party providers such as Amazon.

What is good?

Kyocera Duraforce Ultra is sitting on the windowsill.

Luke Pollack / Android Authority

The Duraforce Ultra is an absolute tank of a device. Its build quality is second to none in the rough space (although it is also one of the heaviest at 278 g). The combination of sturdy plastic, thick rubber sides and Kyocera’s proprietary sapphire crystal make the device incredibly durable. To say the Duraforce Ultra is built to last is an understatement. Each port has a waterproof seal and there is even a spot to loop a lanyard if you wish. Nevertheless, the design is not without its quirks. While the plastic on the back feels very durable, the coating on the plastic picks up tons of fingerprints and feels greasy with everyday use. The large loudspeaker grille on the front may also be a thorn in the side of some buyers.

The Duraforce Ultra is an absolute tank when it comes to durability

The Duraforce comes with a water and dust resistance rating of IP65 and IP68 and the latest MIL-STD-810H certification for protection against drops, pressure and extreme climatic conditions. I wasn’t able to test the device in the most extreme conditions, but I dropped it and ran it under high pressure water. The device withstood all tests. It should be noted that Kyocera gives a two-year warranty on the device, which is intended to reassure buyers who worry the phone will not last.

The good news is that you probably don’t need to take advantage of this warranty status as the device keeps up in other areas too, especially the display. The Duraforce Ultra has a 5.45-inch Full HD + display with an aspect ratio of 18: 9. This is one of the best displays to date on a rugged device, possibly with the Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro as the only competition. Colors, contrast and sharpness are good on this bright IPS panel. Using the device in direct sunlight was also not a problem due to the bright display.

What’s not so good?

Kyocera Duraforce Ultra rear view on the windowsill.

Luke Pollack / Android Authority

Despite the positives, the Duraforce Ultra is still a very expensive phone, which makes the next few points a little harder to swallow. While the Snapdragon 765G is a great processor and is a step ahead of other rugged phones, it’s still a mid-range chip from 2020. In this price range, this phone should really perform better. Daily use looks fluid for the most part, but I’ve experienced occasional screen lag and stuttering.

A device in this high price segment needs a higher quality processor to keep up with it

Unfortunately, this less than outstanding performance also translates into battery life. Although the Duraforce Ultra comes with a 4,500 mAh battery, the standby time isn’t great. If you left the phone off the charger for several days, the battery was almost empty. This does not create a lot of confidence with consumers who have to be disconnected from their charger for long periods of time. Other rugged offerings like the Doogee S96 Pro and the Ulefone Armor 11 both offer better battery life at a fraction of the cost. That said, I got an average of seven to eight hours of screen on time, which is perfectly acceptable.

See also: Verizon Buyer’s Guide – Plans, Benefits, and More

Although cameras are usually not a notable metric when it comes to rugged devices, the Duraforce Ultra’s cameras are lackluster at best. Images compete with other offerings in the rugged market, but keep in mind that this device doesn’t include thermal or night vision cameras, features often found in the competition (although like some other rugged phones, you can take photos underwater in freshwater ). Additionally, the overall sharpness is soft and the camera app is definitely flawed at times.

Finally, given the price, Kyocera’s software update situation is far from desirable. While it does promise an update to Android 11 in the future (albeit with no timeframe), it will only receive security updates that have been promised for two years.

Kyocera Duraforce Ultra camera pattern

You can find high resolution versions of each image here.

Kyocera Duraforce Ultra specifications

Kyocera Duraforce Ultra
advertisement5.4 in
2,160 x 1,080 pixels
18: 9 aspect ratio
processorQualcomm Snapdragon 765G 5G
storage128GB / expandable up to 1TB
CamerasTriple rear camera:
– 24MP main cable
– 16MP ultra wide

– 8MP

27W fast charge
Qi wireless charging
IP ratingIP65 / IP68, MIL-STD-810H
softwareAndroid 10
(Android 11 planned upgrade)
Dimensions165.1 x 74.9 x 16.0 mm
– FR1 – n2 (1,900), n5 (850), n66 (1,700)
– FR2 (mmWave) – n260 (39GHz), n261 (28GHz)
LTE CAT11: B12, B13, B5, B4, B66, B3, B2, B1, B7, B48
CA combinations: 4CA
GSM: B5, B8, B3, B2 (850, 900, 1,800, 1,900 MHz)
UMTS: B5, B8, B2, B1 (850, 900, 1,900, 2,100 MHz)

Single SIM: Nano SIM + TF card

safetySide-mounted fingerprint scanner
Face unlock

Kyocera Duraforce Ultra: should I buy it?

Kyocera Duraforce Ultra held in hand and showing the screen.

Luke Pollack / Android Authority

At $ 899, the Duraforce Ultra is a tough sell. While the build quality and durability are excellent, you are definitely paying a lot for a sturdy phone. Unfortunately, the near-top-notch flagship cost doesn’t match what the Duraforce offers. The mid-range chipset, mediocre battery life and lackluster, functionally deficient cameras simply cannot keep up with the high price. The 5G mmWave support is great, but Verizon’s network is far too inconsistent to bridge the price gap here when compared to other, more affordable, rugged phones.

You’ll lose 5G support either way, but the Doogee S96 Pro ($ 389) offers a similar experience at a fraction of the cost, while the Cat S62 Pro ($ 649) matches the Duraforce Ultra in terms of durability, and it does slightly exceeds and adds a thermal sensor. At its current price, the Kyocera Duraforce Ultra is hard to recommend unless you live in a Verizon 5G hotspot and need fast download speeds.

Kyocera Duraforce Ultra

Kyocera Duraforce Ultra 5G

Kyocera Duraforce Ultra

The Kyocera Duraforce offers an extremely robust design and a great display in a straightforward form factor.

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