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The LG Rumor is Sprint's answer to those who want the convenience of a QWERTY keyboard without the complexity of a smartphone. A successor to the LG F9200 (which was for Cingular/AT&T last year), the Rumor is an attractive handset with a hidden slide-out QWERTY keyboard plus a few advanced features like a megapixel camera, a music player, and Sprint Navigation support. We really liked how easy it was to use, especially when sending text messages and e-mails. You can even access social networking sites like Facebook in just a couple of clicks. We wished the Rumor had EV-DO for faster Web surfing, as well as a better screen resolution, but the Rumor is still a great phone, especially if you're a messaging addict. The LG Rumor retails for $279.99, but you can get it for $79 with a two-year contract and a $50 rebate.
At first glance, the LG Rumor looks like a rather bulky candy-bar handset. Measuring 4.3 inches by 2 inches by 0.7 inch, the Rumor definitely does not fit comfortably in a pants pocket, and at 4.13 ounces, it's heavier than most phones its size. But there's a reason for its heft; the LG Rumor has a hidden slide-out QWERTY keyboard. To reveal it, you have to slide the phone's front face to the left lengthwise, at which point the screen orientation switches from portrait to landscape mode. You can then reposition the phone horizontally so that you can thumb-type on the keyboard. The slider mechanism felt quite solid, and we opened and closed the phone with ease. Overall, the phone is quite attractive, with curved corners, clean lines, and a nice feel in the hand.
On the front of the Rumor is a generous 2-inch diagonal display with a rather disappointing 176x220 pixel resolution. Colors didn't really pop and images appeared a tad washed out, even more so under bright sunlight. You can change the backlight time as well as font size, but not the brightness or contrast. On the left spine is the volume rocker and dedicated camera key, while the headset jack and microSD card slot are on the right. The camera lens sits on the back.
The navigation controls of the LG Rumor consist of two soft keys underneath the display, plus a five-way navigation toggle that doubles as shortcuts to a new text message, the music player, the My Content folder, the calendar, plus the Menu/OK key in the middle. There are also two soft keys to the right of the display that act as the screen's soft keys when the QWERTY keyboard is slid so that the screen's orientation switches to landscape mode. To either side of the five-way toggle are a dedicated speakerphone key (it also doubles as a Recent Calls shortcut), a Back key, and Talk and End/Power keys. The overall keypad on the Rumor is vastly improved over the F9200. Not only is it much roomier, the capsule-shaped buttons are raised enough above the surface to allow for easy pressing and dialing by feel.
The QWERTY keyboard on the Rumor is also a lot better than the one on the F9200. The keys are much bigger, with a nice bumpy texture that makes it easy to thumb-type. Along with the QWERTY keys are a Symbol key, a function key, a shift key, a Back key, a small spacebar, and a Enter/Return key. The only thing we didn't quite like was that there weren't any dedicated keys for basic characters such as the period and the comma, so we had to press the function key each time we wanted to use them. Using the QWERTY keyboard to type out text messages is definitely easier than using the dialpad, though we do think a little more room to type would feel more comfortable. Another nice bonus is that when you slide the QWERTY keyboard out, the messaging menu immediately pops up on the display, letting you text with even more ease and speed.
Though the LG Rumor comes with a few multimedia features, its lack of EV-DO and Sprint Power Vision access means the Rumor isn't meant for power users. But before we go into that, let's start with the basics. The LG Rumor's phone book holds about 500 contacts with room in each entry for five phone numbers, e-mail and Web addresses, and a memo. You can save callers to groups, assign them a photo for caller ID, and pair them with one of 35 polyphonic ringtones. You can also assign one of 23 "text tones" for incoming text messages. Other essentials include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, an alarm clock, a calculator, a currency and unit converter, a notepad, a tip calculator, a stopwatch, and a voice recorder.
On the higher end, you also get stereo Bluetooth, a wireless Web browser, e-mail, and instant messaging (supports AOL, Windows Live, and Yahoo). You even get instant one-click access to Facebook via the messaging menu. There's also an application called Social Zone, which gives you instant access to social network communities like Vox, LiveJournal, and Xanga. Bear in mind, though, that in order to subscribe to these communities via Social Zone, you'll have to pay a monthly charge of $2.99, which we think is pretty steep. Also, the lack of EV-DO makes surfing the Web feel pretty poky and slow, much like dial-up speed. The LG Rumor also features GPS navigation via Sprint Navigator, which provides full turn-by-turn directions with voice and a map display.
The Rumor has a pretty standard music player that is not much different from other Sprint music handsets. The interface is generic, though you can create playlists, and there's a shuffle and repeat mode. Of course, since you don't have Sprint Music access, you'll have to use Sprint's Music Manager software to download songs from the PC to the Rumor via a microSD card.
Another big upgrade from the F9200 is that the Rumor has a 1.3-megapixel camera instead of the F9200's VGA. The camera takes pictures in three resolutions (1280x960, 640x480, and 320x240), three quality settings, and four color tones. Other options include a self-timer, a brightness setting, white balance, and the choice of four shutter tones (plus a silent option). There's also a camcorder that can record up to two resolutions (176x144 and 128x96), with similar settings and options with the still camera. Photo quality was surprisingly disappointing for a 1.3-megapixel camera. Images seemed pixilated and overcast with dull colors. Video quality did not fare much better.
There are a number of personalization options with the LG Rumor. You can customize it with wallpapers, screensavers, text sounds, and more. If you want to kill a little time, the LG Rumor also comes with a few games like demo versions of Midnight Pool, Ms. Pac-Man, Tetris, Tornado Mania, and World Series of Poker. You can download more via the wireless Web browser.
We tested the dual-band LG Rumor (CDMA 800/1900; 1xRTT) in San Francisco using Sprint's network. Call quality was pretty good with most calls. Callers reported hearing us loud and clear, and we thought voices sounded natural with good volume. There was slight static every once in a while, but it wasn't that bad. Speakerphone calls could be a little better, as we occasionally heard some muffled noises and echoes.
Music quality was OK, but nothing to write home about. The sound was a little tinny, and there wasn't a lot of bass. We would recommend using a headset for better quality.