LG consistently produces some of the best-sounding, most intuitively ergonomic and aesthetically pleasing cell phones available. But for some reason, the company has failed to bring the revised Rumor 2 completely up-to-par with its most immediate Sprint competitor, the nearly identical Samsung Rant. Most notably, it lacks both 3G connectivity, and video recording. But while suffering in a side-by-side spec comparison, Rumor2 offers slightly better voice quality, and healthier talk-time battery life (two prime cell-phone purchase considerations).
Features and Design
Designed as a low-cost messaging phone, Rumor2 acts a horizontal slider like the original, and includes most of the features a texting ‘tween needs or wants: a QWERTY keypad, an array of email and IM apps (along with Microsoft Exchange Server and IBM Lotus Notes accounts available through Sprint), a simple 1.3MP camera (compared to the Rant’s 2MP imager), a music player, and a removable back plate for some minor customization.
But the biggest difference between the two phones: Samsung’s Rant offers EV-DO 3G connectivity. LG’s Rumor2, astoundingly does not.
This second-gen model is nearly identical to the original Rumor, but offers QVGA 240 x 320 resolution, rather than the 176 x 220 screen of the original and the Rant, which vastly improves readability. There’s also room for an extra row of icons on the menu grid, showing 12 buttons rather than nine.
Most critically, you now get threaded text messaging, which vastly improves SMS conversations. You also get Bluetooth 2.1, which allows quick-pairing with Bluetooth 2.1 headsets.
Though the Rumor2 omits video recording (a feature still offered on the Rant), the low quality video captured by most cellphones in this range makes this missing feature less critical.
Sprint has also added its GPS Navigation service to the new Rumor. The surprisingly capable software found our general geographic location, even when we were indoors and nowhere near a window. But you don’t have access to any of Sprint’s video services, as you do on the Rant.
Like the Rant, the Rumor2 now offers a fourth row of number keys, including a dedicated emoticon key.
While the extra-wide keyboard makes thumb-typing a breeze compared to tightly-packed vertical keypads, LG has inconveniently placed some keys. The period key finds itself far left of the second row, totally opposite of its usual right-side location of most other keypads, and the shift key is counter-intuitively the first key on the top number row.
Ports & Connectors
LG has eliminated the propriety jack found on the first Rumor in favor of a now-standard microUSB jack, which can be found on the bottom of the phone. The right side has a 2.5mm stereo headphone jack (why not a 3.5mm?) and the miniSD card slot.
Can a phone serve as a workable PMP?
Without video capabilities, no. And its otherwise excellent MP3 player app takes more than 20 seconds to initialize, for which there is no excuse, but this is a systemic problem with most Sprint phones. You’ll also have to supply your own USB-to-microUSB jack for music transfer.
As you’d expect from an LG phone, you get superior vocal quality compared to the Rant, with plenty of volume and clarity, and just a minimum of the usual cell waver. Rumor2′s earpiece also is also generous – you can clearly hear your caller regardless of where the phone is pressed against your ear.
Reception on Sprint’s EV-DO network is consistent and strong; in tunnels and other potential blank spots, the Rumor2 retained bars and signal long after other Sprint phones lost theirs and regained signal sooner.
Unfortunately, Rumor2′s ringers aren’t loud enough to hear, unless the phone is in a breast pocket. But Rumor2′s multiple vibration alerts are all powerful enough to alert you if you keep your phone in your pocket, or clipped to your belt.
Even though Rumor2 lacks EV-DO connectivity, we found it (mysteriously) a hair faster delivering the Web than the Rant. Mobile Web pages such as CNN, ESPN, MLB and The New York Times load in around seven to 10 seconds; the Rant took 2-3 seconds slower. Non-mobile sites such as IMDb take more than 30 seconds to completely fill.
Photos taken by the Rumor2′s 1.3 MP camera range from mediocre to poor, compared to the Rant, which makes sense since Samsung makes digital cameras and LG doesn’t. Rumor2 delivers big, bright 1280 x 960 snaps with surprisingly accurate colors, but only in bright sunlight. All shots, especially those taken in the shade, twilight and especially indoors, lack focus. The darker the environment, the fuzzier the results.
In our tests, we got nearly an hour more than the Rumor2′s 5.5 hour rated talk time, while we got less than Rant’s 5.6-hour rated talk time. This is not surprising, however, since EV-DO access is a battery hog compared to 1XRTT connections. For some reason, Sprint does not release rated standby time.
In three prime areas – voice quality, screen clarity and battery life – Rumor2 is slightly superior to the identically-priced and similarly appointed Samsung Rant. But the Rant offers EV-DO connectivity, a better QWERTY keyboard, a higher resolution and better camera, video recording, and access to Sprint’s streaming video services. Which phone you choose depends on the premium you place on these varying amenities.
- Excellent sound quality
- Wide four-row QWERTY keyboard
- Bright and crisp QVGA LCD screen
- Full SMS, email and IM functions
- Threaded text messaging
- Bluetooth 2.1
- No video recording
- Oddly-placed period and shift keys
- Fuzzy pictures from 1.3 MP camera
- No EV-DO connectivity
- Slow to initialize MP3 player
- Overly quiet ringers