October 24, 2014

Kyocera Brigadier Smartphone

VZW Disclosure

When it comes to buying a smartphone it seems like there are hundreds of choices and no choices at the same time. There are so many options but we don’t even know where to start. They all do the same basic things, so they seem interchangeable. But we know they’re not. What I love about my phone may be the exact thing you hate. Yet, when it comes to buying a phone we get so overwhelmed that maybe we don’t make the best choices. Besides, head to major tech review sites and you get the same information – lots of specs and opinions as to how it could be done better. What, in reality, we all want is insight from real people like us who use the smartphone like we would.

That’s where being part of the Verizon Insiders group lets me help you. I’m a mom, wife, and businesswoman. CycleGuy is a dad, husband, and entrepreneur. He’s also, as the name I’ve lovingly given him – CycleGuy – implies, an avid cyclist. He rides a road bike. As I’ve said before, he rides distances of 70 mile and more just for fun.

When Verizon asked if I’d be interested in doing a techdrive of the Kyocera Brigadier I wasn’t sure. I know, who’d give up testing out a free smartphone? I just wasn’t sure if a phone endorsed by outdoor-expert Bear Grylls would be something “normal” people would use. When I saw that it was dustproof, could be used with gloves, and was waterproof I immediately knew, though, that CycleGuy could see if the Brigadier could keep up with him as an urban (or suburban) warrior.

CycleGuy took this cool Vine while on his bike. The picture clarity and audio quality are fantastic for a phone meant to take you wherever the journey takes you.

See, most of us are an urban warrior in some way. Whether it’s around the house, with the kids, at the gym, or pushing our boundaries in nature, we’re all out there on the weekends (and during the week) doing what needs to be done. And, for the most part, we have our smartphone with us. Maybe it’s for music, as a fitness tracker, or give us some headspace. Whatever it is, we depend on our phone. Unfortunately, our phone is not always able to keep up with us as we go about our day.

No, we don’t set out to have our screens scratched in our bags or have the kids use the keys on it like crayons on paper. We also don’t expect our phone to end up in a sink full of water (or the toilet). But these things happen.

And as much as you may like Pina Coladas, getting caught in the rain is no fun when your phone gets drenched. But with the Kyocera Brigadier you can have your cocktail and rain! See, this smartphone is waterproof! Really! This bad boy is water, dust, shock, vibration, temperature, and humidity resistant.

Sunset in a cloud burst rainstorm in the beautiful sonoran desert #instagramaz #moreaz #Kyocera #Brigadier #vzwbuzz A photo posted by Carlton Hawkins (@carltonhawkins) on

So how can this phone make being an urban warrior better?

1. If water-sports are your thing, this phone goes with you. The community pool, water parks, on the lake, or training for crazy things like the Tough Mudder.

2. Maybe you like to garden or work in the yard. Ever had the sprinklers turned on you while you’re out there. While your phone is in your pocket? Or worse yet, on the ground next to you? Not a problem with the Brigadier.

3. Perhaps you’ve thought of heading out for a hike but were concerned that all the dust on the trail would mess up your phone so you put it in a ziptop bag. Now you know you’re cool! Dust won’t destroy this phone.

4. Winter sports are your true love? You don’t have to trade staying warm with staying connected with friends and family. Even if it’s just cold weather, gloves don’t have to come off to use this phone.

5. Worried that the kids may grab your phone while giving them a bath? OK, so this really is more of a suburban warrior thing. But having a device that won’t slow you down is how a warrior rolls. And a phone in the tub? Ain’t nobody got time for that! Unless you have one that is waterproof.

6. Lounging at the beach and want to take selfies, pics of the kids, and update social media? The Kyocera Brigadier won’t skip a beat. Even if you have it tucked into your swimsuit and forget about it while splashing with the kids.

And while you may never just pull out a scissors and start scraping at your screen. Or be a klutz and drop your phone in your drink at a restaurant. This phone is about living life and not having to dial back on the fun and adventure because your phone can’t handle it. You don’t need to sleep in the wild and eat bugs like Bear Grylls to get the most out of the Brigadier. You just have to want to get out there, stop wishing, and start doing!


If you’re a Verizon Wireless customer like me, you can get the Kyocera Brigadier for just $99 with a 2-year agreement. The device is also available on other carriers.

Disclosure: I was provided the device at no charge. I am a member of the Verizon Insider team and share information about technology. This review was not required or edited by a third party. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



October 15, 2014

Life360 App Halloween

This post is a sponsored conversation about family communication.

It’s that time of year when little ghouls and ghosts take to the streets to plan a few tricks, but mainly to grab lots of treats. For some people Halloween is a big celebration. Not so much for me. But I do buy the good candy!

Each year, though, BabyGirl dresses up and heads out to say hello to friends in the neighborhood. As she gets older, though, she’s more interested in hanging out with her friends than walking alongside mommy. She’s also invited to trick or treat with friends from some of her other activities, in areas we’re not very familiar with. Then there is the bonanza that is Trunk or Treat!

I’m determined not to let my apprehensions about Halloween become her issue so when Life360 asked me to share how I use their app it only seemed to make sense. It’s an app I’ve been using for quite awhile, but mainly as a way to stay connected with some of my online friends. It wasn’t until we were at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party when I realized Life360 could be the perfect way to keep my family connected without relying solely on text messages.

I’ve written about Life360 as way to stay connected with your tween or teen in case of an emergency. So it makes total sense that Halloween and the nighttime festivities would be the perfect time to create a Life360 circle. How could you use this family communication app for Halloween?

Life360 Logo

4 Ways To Take The Trick Out Of Your Trick or Treat with Life360

1. Divide and Conquer – Instead of relying on back and forth texts of “Where are you?”, families can split up but still see where each other are located. This is especially great if the kids are going out with a sitter or grandparents. Instead of trying to figure out exactly what street you are – are we two streets over or three? – just check-in and others in your circle will know where you are.Life360 CheckIn

2. Teen New Drivers – What good is letting the teen get a driver’s license if we have to drive them everywhere? With Life360 you set up a Place location, and rather than the teen having to check in with mom or dad (which you know is totally not cool) once they get to the Halloween party you’ll get a notification. When they leave the party you’ll know that too. No need to text and drive because they forgot to let mom and dad know they’re on their way home. Safety times a bazillion!

3. Increased Independence – You got the kid a smartphone, but what good is it if they’re too cool to send mom or dad a text. (As if they’d actually call!) Having the Life360 app on their phone kids can check-in when they get where they’re going. No need to text mom or dad while their friends are looking. Or, gasp, risk a text from mom popping up while you’re trying to be cool in front of that cute guy or girl. Instead, communication within the app is more private and secure. And, kids are more likely to check in or let you know if there is an issue when they can do so without risk of being called-out by their friends.

Life360 Messages

4. Block Party – Teens and young adults have more opportunities now to attend large-scale parties for Halloween. Since Life360 is about keeping in contact, the app is flexible and allows groups of young people to stay connected. No need to hang out waiting for everyone to show up, just use the app and put everyone in a circle so you get notified when they arrive. Again, no need to text them 87 times because they’re driving and aren’t answering their phone. Let technology work for you!

I wish I had used the app more when we were in Florida. It would have been easier than texting. I had been using it more for business than for family communication and I was totally missing out on how amazing the app really is. I love the safety features built-in to the app that would allow BabyGirl to hit PANIC if she got separated and flustered. I really like that she can just check in and I know she’s OK. It’s tough being an only child when it comes to learning about independence. While she’s used to doing a lot of things on her own, sometimes it’s me who needs the push to let her try her wings.

About Life360

With users in over 200 countries, Life360 is connecting families near and far. Backed by $76 million in venture funding, the app has grown more than 400% over the past year to become the world’s largest network for family communication. Whether it’s dinner plans, car pool, or just making sure the kids got home safely from school, Life360 gives families simplified communication and peace of mind right at their fingertips.

Download the FREE app for iPhoneAndroid, or Windowsphone.

If you’re on social media, you can enter to win a $100 Amazon gift card from Life360 by sharing a photo of your costume. Tag your photos #Scare360 and share them on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

On Instagram, follow @Life360app and tag your costume photos with our handle and #Scare360.

On Facebook, share your photos on Life360’s wall and tag them #Scare360.

On Twitter, follow @Life360 and tag them and the photo with #Scare360.

Note: Image information obscured for privacy.



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