Durable, waterproof design; Reliable push-to-talk; Solid QWERTY keyboard; Very bright display
Fairly heavy; Small screen; Short battery life; Lacks the overall performance of current Android phones
The NEC Terrain is a rugged LTE phone that can take a beating, but a cramped keyboard, low-res screen, and short battery life make it less than useful for workers out in the field.
With a military-grade case, a physical keyboard and a push-to-talk function, the NEC Terrain is designed for tough workplaces such as construction sites and places where other phones would quickly break. Available through AT&T for $99, this Android smartphone can also access that network's fast 4G LTE speeds. NEC boasts that the Terrain is "made for hard work," but it might not work for you.
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DesignBlackBerry Q10 to mind, with a 3.1-inch VGA screen that's complemented by a physical QWERTY keyboard beneath. Made from hardened plastic, the Terrain's rugged makeup creates a thick layer of material between the screen and the side of the phone. While the device felt comfortable in our hands, the small display and somewhat cramped keys make the Terrain feel like it comes from a previous generation of smartphones.
On the right of the device is a sealable microUSB port and the sleep button, while volume controls and a push-to-talk button sit on the left. The device's 1900 mAh battery is locked into the back of the phone, which can be removed with a simple snap after unlocking the bottom.
At 5.02 x 2.54 x 0.57 inches, the Terrain is shorter and thicker than other "rugged" phones, such as Samsung's Galaxy S4 Active (5.5 x 2.81 x 0.36 inches) and Rugby Pro (5.04 x 2.72 x 0.51 inches). The 6.1-ounce Terrain is heavier than both the S4 Active and Rugby Pro, which weigh 5.4 and 4.6 ounces, respectively.
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Display and Audio
What the screen lacks in size, it somewhat makes up for in readability. The LCD's brightness rating of 556 lux beats out the S4 Active (438 lux) and Rugby Pro (220 lux), as well as the category average of 296 lux.
With dual front speakers and noise suppression, the Terrain is loud enough for workers utilizing push-to-talk on the job. However, we don't recommend using it as a primary music player, as Justin Timberlake's "Suit and Tie" became extremely distorted at max volume. The quality wasn't much better with headphones.
The keyboard on the Terrain offers a fair amount of resistance, while typing on BlackBerry's latest phone feels light and instant. Also, the Q10's keys have ridges for distinguishing between buttons, an anti-typo feature that the tiny keys of the Terrain could have benefited from. Still, the Terrain's keys felt rugged enough to stand up to harsh work conditions.
As its name suggests, the Terrain is built to handle a variety of harsh environmental conditions. The device has an IP-67 rating for water and dust, and meets MIL-SPEC-810G standards for drops of up to 48 inches. NEC claims that the device can last through extreme temperatures, ranging from 32 degrees to 149 degrees Fahrenheit.
Like the S4 Active and Rugby Pro, the Terrain can survive up to 30 minutes under 1 meter of water. The device lived up to its waterproof claims in our testing, with the key difference being that the Terrain's touch screen worked while submerged in roughly a liter of water while the Active's did not. NEC's device also withstood large water spills, though pouring liquid occasionally registered as a touch when the phone was unlocked.
The Terrain endured our 48-inch sidewalk drop test, though we noticed some slight scratching on the left side of the handset after several drops, as we did with the Rugby Pro. Overall, the Terrain keeps ticking in conditions that would break many high-end smartphones and stands out from the S4 Active, which is merely meant to be water-resistant.
Push-to-Talk and Call Quality
The Terrain's call quality held up just as well when used for standard phone calls. Our contact sounded crisp with and without speakerphone, and he could hear us without any interference.
Operating System and Interface
The Terrain comes preloaded with AT&T-exclusive apps such as Navigator, Code Scanner and the auto-texting DriveMode. The built-in email application worked responsively with our Gmail accounts, and the Terrain's Media Center made it easy to sort through our photos and screenshots. The device comes with the Kindle app and a music player for entertainment, and the included QuickOffice app allows for on-the-go document and spreadsheet creation. With full access to the Google Play store, you can augment the Terrain with any wallpaper, game or productivity app that you see fit.
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The NEC Terrain's 1.5 GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor with 1GB of RAM offered good performance overall, but had an uneven showing on our benchmark tests.
The Terrain scored a 5,394 on the Quadrant benchmark, which is far lower than the S4 Active (12,648), but higher than the Rugby Pro (5,141) and just above the category average of 5,386.
We noticed similar results when performing the AnTuTu test, as the Terrain's score of 11,071 is higher than the Rugby Pro's 6,730 score but almost half that of the S4 Active (21,366). The Terrain also falls below the AnTuTu benchmark average of 16,093.
Classic mobile games like "Angry Birds" and "Fruit Ninja" played smoothly on the Terrain's small screen, and while the more visually demanding "Shadowgun" suffered from long load times, it still performed well when played on a device not designed for gaming. However, the Terrain's persistent digital home screen button cramps the already small screen and could lead users to accidentally exit their games.
We took a few photos of Manhattan's Flatiron District, and while the results don't stack up to more high-end smartphones, the rear lens is efficient enough for capturing clear, bright shots. When looking at a still of Sixth Avenue on a sunny day, we had no problem making out company names and logos among the crowded buildings. The Terrain performed just as reliably when taking video, as the 30-second 720p clips we documented were as crisp as the photos.
On the other hand, the front camera produced less-than-stellar results. Self-portraits were noticeably pixelated.
Network and Web Browsing
Over AT&T's 4G LTE network, the Terrain registered an average download speed of 8.9 Mbps and upload speed of 3.6 Mbps using Speedtest.net. While that's not the fastest we've seen from an LTE phone on AT&T, it's respectable.
Plans and Pricing
The Terrain is currently available for $99.99 with a two-year AT&T plan or $429.99 with no contract. A Mobile Share plan, which includes unlimited talk and text and 2GB of data, costs $95 per month. With the price of the phone included, that works out to a total of $2,379.
Consumers who opt for AT&T's new "Next" promotion, which lets you purchase a new phone each year, will make 20 monthly payments of $21.50 for the Terrain. Assuming you select the 2GB data plan, you'll end up paying $2,710 after two years, assuming you hold on to the Terrain for the duration.
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|Phone Display Size||3.1|
|Form Factor||Candybar Touchscreen|
|Operating System||Android 4.0|
|CPU||1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon|
|Processor Family||Qualcomm Snapdragon S4|
|Memory Expansion Type||microSD Card|
|Display (main)||3.1 inches, 640 x 480|
|Bluetooth Type||Bluetooth 4.0|
|Front Camera Resolution||0.3MP|
|Camera Resolution||5 MP|
|Talk / Standby Time|
|Size||5.02 x 2.54 x 0.57 inches|
|SAR Rating (Head)|
|SAR Rating (Body)|