Now, a year and half since the original Rumor's debut, Sprint and LG offer the Rumor2. Like its predecessor, it remains an accessible and easy-to-use phone; the keyboard is equally spacious, the messaging app is intuitive and the call quality was unchanged. Yet, we were disappointed that LG didn't take this opportunity to expand the phone's feature set. It's not an EV-DO device, and the camera resolution remains a low-res 1.3 megapixels. Indeed, the only new feature is access to some Outlook and Lotus Notes corporate e-mail. While that's a noteworthy addition, it makes the Rumor2 definitely new, but only partially improved. You can get it for just $49.99 with service and a mail-in rebate.
The Rumor2's design is based on its predecessor, and when placed side-by-side, the two phones resemble one another. Both have an elongated candy bar shape with the smooth lines and rounded corners. And of course, the front face slides to the left to expose the full keyboard. But even as it shows many similarities, the Rumor2 also shows a few differences from the original Rumor. It's available in only one color (basic black), and its skin is a little glossier. It also has a more vivid display and is slightly bigger (4.4 inches tall by 2.1 inches wide by 0.7 inch deep) and heavier (4.2 ounces).
As we mentioned, the Rumor2's display is improved from the first incarnation of the handset. Though it also supports 262,144 colors, it has more pixels (240 x 320 pixels) for a higher resolution. Colors are bright and vibrant, graphics are sharp, and the simple menus are easy to navigate. You can change the font size and the backlighting time. The display also shows photo caller ID.
The navigation array is slightly redesigned, but not for the better. Instead of the circular toggle that's on the Rumor, the Rumor2 has a square toggle that feels slick and more cramped. The same is true for the surround controls, which include two soft keys, a dedicated speakerphone control, a back button, and the Talk and End/power controls. On the upside, the buttons and toggle are raised above the surface of the phone, but we liked the Rumor's controls better.
The numeric keypad buttons are slick as well, but we could dial quickly without any issues. Texting wasn't a problem, either, though we have no reason to text on the nine-digit keypad when the phone has a QWERTY keyboard. The keys are raised, and they have backlighting for dialing in the dark.
The slider mechanism is well-constructed--it's sturdy without being too stiff. Like on the Rumor, two keys next to the display serve as soft keys when the phone is open. The keyboard has four rows of keys instead of three, but it manages to be just as roomy as on the Rumor. We could text quickly with the tactile keys. With the extra row you get dedicated number keys--a nice touch--and a dedicated smiley key. Other additions include arrow keys for moving through the menus and a single key for periods and question marks. The shift, function, back and enter keys remain, and the space bar is well-positioned in the center of the bottom row. The only thing you lose is the symbol key, but it's not needed, since symbols are now surfaced on the alphabetic keys.
The remaining controls are a volume rocker and a camera shutter on the left spine and a microSD card slot and a headset jack on the right spine. The latter is 2.5mm, which is disappointing on a phone with a music player. On the bottom you'll find the mini-USB port, which is used for both data transfer and the charger.
The Rumor2's phone book holds 600 contacts, with room in each entry for six phone numbers, an e-mail address, an instant-message handle, a URL, and notes. You can also choose to hide the contacts with a pass code. The Rumor2 supports caller groups and photo caller ID. You also can pair contacts with one of 33 polyphonic ringtones.
Basic features include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, an alarm clock, a calendar, a calculator, a voice recorder, voice dialing, wireless phone book backup, a unit converter, and a notepad. You'll also find PC syncing, USB mass storage, a memory card manager, GPS with support for Sprint Navigation, Sprint's Family Locater service, stereo Bluetooth, and instant messaging.
With the e-mail app you can access many POP3 accounts including AOL, AIM, Hotmail, Yahoo, and Gmail. Once you've activated an account, your messages download directly to the phone--you don't have to go through a clunky Web browser interface to access your messages. Sprint PCS Mail access does require the Web browser, but it was the exception.
Syncing on a Yahoo account wasn't always automatic. Sent messages didn't show up in the in-box until we refreshed, and when we deleted a message from our account on a PC, we had to refresh the phone to see the message disappear from the Rumor's in-box. The reverse was also true: when we deleted a message on the phone, it didn't drop instantly from our PC inbox. On the other hand, when we sent a message on the phone, it did appear in our PC's "sent" folder right away. You can read but not edit attachments.
The interface is mostly intuitive. Basic navigation was pretty easy, though it took too many clicks to access a folder other than our in-box. You can choose how many messages you'd like to appear in your in-box--from the 25 most recent to the 100 most recent--and you can select how much of the message you'd like to show in the in-box. Swapping between accounts was pretty simple. Ideally, we'd like all of our messages to come to single in-box, but that's something we can live without on a handset that's not a true smartphone.
As mentioned earlier, the Rumor2 bests the original Rumor by supporting Microsoft server and Lotus Notes. That means you can get work e-mail right on the phone in the same manner as the POP3 accounts. There is one catch, however. Like the Samsung Instinct it is best if your employer uses Outlook Web access. If not, you'll have to use the Sprint Mobile Email client, which has a more tedious Web-based interface. Luckily, we have OWA at CNET, so we were able to access our account in just a few minutes and get messages. The interface and in-box options are the same as when accessing POP3 accounts. Syncing was uneven here as well.
It's too bad that LG couldn't give us a better camera on the Rumor2. Like on the Rumor, the 1.3-megapixel shooter takes pictures in three resolutions and three quality settings. Editing options include three color tones, adjustable brightness and white balance controls, nine fun frames, a self-timer, a digital zoom, a night mode, and four shutter sounds, plus a silent option. Oddly enough, the Rumor2 does not shoot video.
Photo quality was pretty good, with bright colors and little image noise. It's really easy to get photos off the phone. You can transfer them to a PC via a USB cable or the memory card, you can send them in a multimedia message or e-mail, and you can send them directly to a photo printer. You also can upload them to a Sprint online account or send them to third-party vendors for printing. The Rumor has 22MB of internal memory, and the memory card slots supports up to 16GB.
The Rumor2's music player has a basic player that supports MP3, MIDI, WAV, AMR, and QCP files. Features are limited to repeat and shuffle modes, but the interface is intuitive. It's easy to load music on the phone using a microSD card. Unfortunately, you can't save music tracks as ring tones, but you can pair contacts with a voice recording. Music quality was just average. Like on the Rumor, the sound lacked warmth. Deep bass was lacking and the audio was somewhat tinny.
You can personalize the Rumor2 with a variety of screensavers, clock and calendar styles, and a greeting. More options, and additional ringtones, are available from Sprint using the WAP 2.0 Web browser. The Rumor2 comes with three demo games--Bejeweled, Guitar Hero II, and Monopoly Word--but you'll have to purchase the full versions for extended play. You also get access to a few apps like Loopt, Nascar Spring Mobile, NFL Mobile, and Social Zone.
We tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1900) LG Rumor2 in San Francisco using Sprint service. Call quality was about the same as on the Rumor, which is to say it was quite agreeable. The signal was strong, and voices sounded natural. There was less static than on the Rumor, but the audio had a more echoed effect at times. It wasn't a deal-breaker, though. We also noticed that the volume could stand to be a bit louder on our end.
On their end, callers said we sounded fine. Most could tell that we were using a cell phone, but that's not unusual. A few had trouble hearing us when we were speaking in noisy environments, but the complaints were minor. We had few issues when using an automated-calling system, as long as we were in a quiet room.
Speakerphone calls were fine and somewhat improved over the Rumor. The audio was quite clear, and the volume was loud. Callers could understand us even if we spoke a couple of feet from the phone.
It's too bad that the Rumor2 doesn't support Sprint's EV-DO network. That was one of our biggest complaints with the Rumor, and it's too bad that LG couldn't add it in here. It would be quite useful on such an e-mail-centric phone.
The Rumor2 has a rated battery life of 5.5 hours talk time. The tested talk time isn't much longer at 5 hours and 50 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the Rumro2 has a digital SAR rating of 1.51 watts per kilogram, which is rather high.