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Samsung on a Rant

The Samsung Rant is a messaging phone that looks a lot like the LG Rumor.

The Samsung Rant in red. Sprint

Is it just us, or is this deja vu? If we didn't know any better, we've seen one of Sprint's newest cell phones before. The Samsung Rant, which Sprint introduced Wednesday as CTIA Fall 2008 began, looks a lot like the year-old LG Rumor. It has same basic candy-bar shape with similar dimensions (4.5 inches by 2.1 inches by 0.7 inch) and it sports a full QWERTY keyboard hidden that's hidden behind the sliding face. And like the Rumor, the Rant is aimed directly at messaging addicts.

So what gives? Has Sprint run out of ideas? Well...not really. Take a closer look at the Rant and you'll notice that it shows some differences from its LG lookalike. The navigation toggle is square instead of circular, the remaining navigation controls and keypad buttons have a different design and the phone has a certain something that gives it a bit more style. Sure, the Rant still looks like a workhouse, but we like the colored ring that surrounds the sharp display and navigation array. The Rant is offered in three colors: red, black, and an eye-catching purple model that's available exclusively at Best Buy.

The Rant in purple. Corinne Schulze/CNET Networks

The Rant, aka the SPH-M540, also offers some feature improvements over its predecessor. Inside you'll find a 2-megapixel camera, e-mail and messaging, support for Sprint's 3G EV-DO network, Sprint TV, a music player with access to the Sprint Music Store, Sprint's new One Click interface, GPS with Sprint Navigation, speaker-independent voice dialing, Microsoft Live Search, stereo Bluetooth, and personal organizer applications.

Two of a kind? The Samsung Rant (right) and the LG Rumor. Corinne Schulze/CNET Networks

We got the opportunity to handle the Rant yesterday. On the whole, it appears to have a solid construction, and it has a comfortable feel in the hand. The controls seem user-friendly, and the keyboard in particular has a spacious design. We imagine that this phone will have a lot of appeal for frequent texters. The only thing we can't get over is the name. We're guessing that the messaging-centric phone will allow users to go on a texting "rant," but we're still scratching our heads. We're also imagining the pun-heavy headlines like the one we used above.

The Samsung Rant will be available next month for just $49 with service. We'll have a full review just as soon as we can secure a test model.