Kyocera’s new DuraForce Ultra 5G phone laughs in the face of drops

Kyocera DuraForce Ultra 5G UW
(Image credit: Kyocera)

Kyocera is known for its line of durable phones. So when the phone maker rolls out a 5G-ready device, it's not about to give up one of the most distinct things about its smartphone lineup.

Even better, we learned at CES 2021 that the Kyocera DuraForce Ultra 5G UW will be available in the U.S., as Verizon plans to offer the phone later this year.

Verizon has yet to set a price on the DuraForce Ultra. But everything you need to know about the phone's 5G prowess is there at the end of the name. The UW means Kyocera's phone will work with Verizon's high-speed Ultra Wideband network, which is based on millimeter wave 5G and can turn in download speeds in excess of 1 Gbps. That high-speed service is limited to select areas of cities where Verizon has launched 5G, but otherwise you'll be able to access the carrier's slower nationwide 5G coverage.

The Kyocera DuraForce Ultra's 5G compatibility comes courtesy of the Snapdragon 765G system-on-chip powering the phone and the embedded modem it includes. That's the same processor found in 5G phones like Google's Pixel 5, the LG Velvet and OnePlus Nord. Those 5G-capable phones all deliver solid performance, so we'd expect the Kyocera Ultra to follow suit once we have a chance to.

But the true appeal of the DuraForce Ultra 5G is its ability to stand up to all sorts of punishment, thanks to an IP6X dust-resistance rating and military standard 810H rating signifying that the phone can withstand a 1.5 meter drop onto concrete. The Kyocera DuraForce Ultra 5G UW is water-resistant, too, as it can survive a plunge into 6.5 feet of water for up to 30 minutes.

Kyocera DuraForce Ultra 5G UW

(Image credit: Kyocera)
Kyocera DuraForce Ultra 5G UW specs

Screen size: 5.45-inch FHD+
CPU: Snapdragon 765G
Rear Cameras: 24MP main; 16MP wide; Time-of-flight sensor
Front Camera: 8MP
Battery size: 4,500 mAh

Even better, you can still use the phone when you're in the drink, as the Kyocera DuraForce Ultra is underwater-capable. Back on dry land, you can even operate the touch screen with wet hands or with gloves. Sapphire Shield display glass prevents scratching on both the 5.45-inch display as well as the rear camera array.

Other durability features included with the DuraForce Ultra 5G are programmable buttons on the side of the phone that launch push-to-talk or emergency SOS calling. The phone also has a covert mode that keeps the device's screen from lighting up and disables notifications, while a Focus Mode disables non-work notifications for a set period of time.

The kind of durability that the DuraForce Ultra 5G usually means a phone is aimed at remote workers, emergency personnel and other people who spend a lot of time in the field where bumps and mishaps are par for the course. And while that's certainly the case for the Kyocera DuraForce Ultra 5G, the phone may also appeal to the extreme sports crowd. Try attaching Kyocera's phone to a bike and then recording your ride, without any fear of the phone absorbing too much punishment. An action overlay on the screen even shows some of the stats of your ride.

A 4,500 mAh battery keeps the phone charged up, and you can recharge the Kyocera DuraForce Ultra either through USB, Qi wireless charging or charging contacts on the back of the device. Kyocera tells me that the lithium polymer battery inside the phone is durable as well, so that it can absorb the same shocks as the rest of the device.

Kyocera equipped this phone with a 24-megapixel main camera, a 16MP wide lens and a time of flight sensor to help with fast focus and depth of field shots. Up front, there's an 8MP camera, and a Super Night Vision feature aims to take clear photos in low light.

We'll still need to learn more about how much Verizon is charging for this phone and how widely available the Kyocera DuraForce Ultra 5G UW will be. But it sounds like this device is a contender to jump to the top of our list for the best waterproof phones once it arrives later this year.

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.