Psst...have you heard the news? The LG Rumor is back, and this time it's called the Rumor Reflex. With a slightly bumped up camera, sleeker design, new touch screen, and a more expansive keyboard, the Reflex is a welcomed face-lift. Although it doesn't come with all the high-tech specs of a smartphone, it's a handset that can do the basics reliably and with no fuss.
The device is available on Sprint's 3G network for $29.99 after you sign a two-year contract and send in a mail-in $50 rebate. If you don't want to commit yourself at all, this device is also available on Boost Mobile's network for $79.99.
The LG Rumor Reflex measures 4.2 inches tall, 2.1 inches wide, and is 0.6 inch thick. It weighs 4.7 ounces, which is light for a phone that has a physical keyboard. Though that keyboard also makes it thick, the Rumor Reflex has a petite build and it fits compactly in my hand. Also, it easily slipped into my clutch, and into my jeans pocket.
Front and center is a 3-inch WQVGA capacitive touch screen. Its resolution is only 400x240 pixels and it can display only 262,000 colors, so it's not the crispest or most vibrant display out there. Videos and games are pixelated and images, like its set of default wallpaper, are grainy. On the upside, though, the simple menu icons and text are legible. Yet, what I liked most about the display was that it was responsive. I could scroll through menu items, type on the virtual keyboard (if I didn't want to use the physical keyboard), and click on links with ease.
The QWERTY keyboard behind the display lights up with a soft blue glow and has four rows of keys, including directional keys, a function and shift key, a backspace, and a symbol key that gives you access to 16 cute icons and smiley faces. However, unless you're sending texts to another Rumor Reflex, don't expect other devices to be able to see these colorful emoticons. Although I like that the keys are raised and are easy to push, they're too small. I have petite hands already, so I can't imagine anyone with even slightly larger mitts trying to type. The slider mechanism is sturdy, and easily snaps back and forth.
On the left side of the handset are a volume rocker and a Micro-USB port that's protected by a plastic cover. Up top are a power/sleep button and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The power button is completely flushed with the rest of the body, so it's hard to use it by feel. The right side includes a shortcut button that also opens the camera when the display is unlocked.
With its gray plastic build and fishnet stocking texturing, the back of the phone feels cheap. Near the top left corner is the lens for the 2-megapixel camera, with a small reflective square to the right of it for vanity shots. Next to that are two small slits for the output speaker. By a small indentation at the bottom, you can pry the backing of the device off and gain access to the 1,000mAh battery inside and the microSD slot, which can accept cards up to 32GB.
Above the display is an in-ear audio speaker and below are three buttons (back, home, and call) that light up when in use. The home button has an odd streaky plastic build, which makes the device feel even cheaper, but I like that they're raised and easy to press.
The LG Rumor Reflex is powered by a single-core 480MHz processor and has 512MB of internal storage. For basic tasks like navigating around the phone, texting, and viewing photos, the processor holds up. When I used the device, it didn't feel laggy even when I was jumping between tasks. That said, the shutter speed of the camera is slow.
The handset can hold up to 600 contacts, and includes a simple Web browser, Sprint Navigation, and a media hub for purchasing and storing music, ringtones shows, movies, and games. You can buy additional items like wallpaper and other applications through its shopping portal. Lastly, there's a social networking icon where Facebook and Twitter apps are preloaded.
In the tools folder, you can access several features, including a clock, a calendar, Bluetooth 3.0, voice command and voice memo, a calculator, a notepad, and a document reader, which lets you read files stored on your memory card.
The 2-megapixel camera includes a zoom and a brightness meter; four color modes (normal, black-and-white, negative, and sepia); six white balance options (auto, tungsten, fluorescent, sunny, cloudy, and manual); eight fun frames or graphics you can superimpose on your photo, an option to take pictures at night, and three timer options (off, five, and 10 seconds). You can also set the resolution of the photo (2MP, high, med, and low); its quality (fine, normal, economy); and its shutter sound.
When switching to camcorder mode, you're prompted to choose between shooting a long video or video mail, the latter giving you a maximum recording time of 30 seconds. Recording options include the same zoom, brightness, and white balance meters; and the same color and timer options. There are additional settings as well, such as choosing between three resolutions (WQVGA, medium, and low); quality options (fine, normal, economy); and three cue sounds.
The camera interface is one of the Rumor Reflex's major flaws. When you hold the device in landscape mode, the settings and feature options are displayed directly on top of the feedback, making the live frame much smaller than it appears. I ended up skewing a lot of my pictures to the left, just because I couldn't see that I actually still had space on the right. If the device is held in portrait mode, the camera settings lie at the bottom, which prompted me to accidentally frame my picture upward.
I tested the dual-band (CDMA 800, 1,900MHz) LG Rumor Reflex in San Francisco using Sprint's services. Audio quality was solid, calls didn't drop, and audio didn't clip in an out. Voices on my end, however, were stifled in the receiver. It wasn't anything that a few pumps of the volume couldn't improve, but it was noticeable. My callers said I sounded muffled, too. Aside from coming off a bit tinny and harsh, speaker audio quality during calls was perfectly adequate, too, and I could understand my friends.
Music playing through headphones sounded ample, but speaker quality, again, was not great. Especially with songs containing a lot of instrumentation; noises bled together and sounded flat. This isn't a device I'd recommend to put down and stream music out of.
LG Rumor Reflex call quality sample
Browsing the Web on Sprint's 3G network was sluggish. It runs on EVDO Rev. 0, so don't expect blistering speeds when going on the Internet, opening Facebook, or navigating your maps. Loading the CNET mobile site took an average of 25 seconds. When trying to view our full cite, a weird dialog message would pop up: "Memory shortage. Partial content may be shown. More text may be shown by turning Images Off." The New York Times' mobile site took 24 seconds and ESPN's took 14. Keep in mind that mobile Web sites, which the phone defaults to, as well as Facebook and Twitter, look different than full sites on a computer or a higher-end smartphone. A lot of coding is stripped away, so the site is modified to show only some of the graphics and images.
For a 2-megapixel camera, the handset's photo quality is understandably subpar. Images were predictably grainy, and the edges of objects were blurred. Yet, the white balance and color toning came out accurate. Although certain hues like reds and oranges didn't appear as vibrant as they did in real life, especially in low lighting, objects were easy to make out.
Video recordings also were mediocre. Images weren't as pixelated as I expected them to be, but they were far from crisp. The colors of driving cars weren't as lush, and it didn't pick up audio very well. I could barely understand the voices of people sitting or standing near me.
Since it doesn't do much, the handset has a solid battery life. During our battery drain tests, it clocked in at 6.3 hours. The device went through a day and a half without a charge and lost only about half its battery life. Texting, trudging through the Web, and making calls all day barely made a dent. According to FCC radiation tests, the phone has a digital SAR rating of 0.54/kg.
The LG Rumor Reflex has restored my faith in feature handsets. There was a time when I thought manufacturers simply did not put any effort into these types of devices anymore. Although it's not great for browsing, it has a responsive touch screen, simple but solid design, and good call quality. I'd recommend this device for anyone not interested in a data plan or the bells and whistles of a smartphone.