NEC Terrain surfaces at Pepcom because it's waterproof and was in the water

Let's face it: no rugged phone is going to get more attention today than the Galaxy S4 Active. Just the same, NEC is showing off the Terrain, its first handset for the US market since 2005. The phone, which is hitting AT&T for $99 with a two-year agreement, is mainly aimed at the enterprise (read: field technicians and other mobile workers). Since it's unlikely to reach mainstream consumers, we won't be running a full-on review, but we did take the opportunity to get hands-on. As you'd expect of a device that can be immersed in water up to 30 minutes, this thing's coated in rubber, with a sealed USB port and a secure (but removable) battery cover. It's a bit chunky for a phone, to be sure, but at 6.06 ounces it's still eminently portable. In fact, the rounded edges and soft finish make it more comfortable to hold than some of the more minimal handsets we've seen recently.

Other than that, you'll be pleased to find an unskinned version of Android, though it's 4.0 and not a newer build like 4.2. The capacitive screen responds well to taps and swipes, though the 640 x 480 resolution isn't going to knock anyone'e socks off -- and neither will the washed-out colors. Performance-wise, the dual-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 8960 processor means transitions happen quickly, and there isn't any tiling in the Chrome browser. We also got on well with the QWERTY keyboard, though the buttons are packed in quite tightly. And that's a good thing: it's slim pickings for anyone who wants a portrait QWERTY Android phone. Finishing up our tour, you'll find a microSD slot (to support the 8GB of built-in storage), dedicated speaker and push-to-talk buttons and dual 5MP / 0.3MP cameras, with an NFC radio under the hood. It'll be available tomorrow on AT&T's LTE network, through the carrier's business channel, specifically. Check out the hands-on photos below -- we even got a requisite shot of it in a fish tank.

NEC Terrain hands-on

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Zach Honig contributed to this report.

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Hands-on with the NEC Terrain: the company's first US phone in eight years