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Samsung Galaxy Rush review: Small, affordable, indistinctive

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MSRP: $149.99

The Good The Samsung Galaxy Rush has Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, a nice, petite design, and a front-facing camera.

The Bad A slow processor, poor photo quality, and creeping 3G data network are part of the Galaxy Rush's drawbacks.

The Bottom Line Android 4.0 and an affordable price help make Boost Mobile's Samsung Galaxy Rush a decent no-contract option, but lower-end specs are disappointing nevertheless.

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6.3 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 6
  • Performance 6

Just because a phone isn't large or expensive doesn't mean that you can't get some of the best that Android has to offer. That's the message Boost Mobile seems to be wrapping into the Samsung Galaxy Rush, a petite package with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and an attractive look that won't bust your wallet.

The Galaxy Rush's Boost ID profile-changing software adds some interest, and a front-facing camera means you can engage in video chats. However, the basic 3G Android phone keeps costs down with a slower processor and cheaper camera, and the fancier Ice Cream Sandwich tricks, like S Beam, never made it onto the phone.

In short, the $149.99, no-contract Rush is a compromise device for those who want Android without the high price tag.

Design and build
One person's "small" is another's "cute," and whichever way you look at it, the portable Galaxy Rush is ideal for one-handed operation. It's also attractive, in the glossy way, with rounded corners and a face that looks like it's bubbling up from the center of the phone. The gray plastic backing resembles brushed metal, and a dark gray metallic finish graces the rim. The Galaxy Rush is pocketable and feels good to hold.

The Galaxy Rush measures 4.8 inches tall by 2.4 inches wide by 0.47 inch deep. Its 4.2-ounce weight gives the handset enough heft to make it feel solid and durable. While the glossy surfaces will repel water and deflect some scratches, the Rush, like all phones, will be prone to scuffs and more from bad falls.

Samsung Galaxy Rush
The Samsung Galaxy Rush fits easily into the hand. Josh Miller/CNET

A 3.5-inch screen will look miniature compared with jumbo phones like Boost's Samsung Galaxy S II 4G, but thanks to an accurate virtual keyboard, typing doesn't feel as cramped as it could. Of course, you'll do better if you have smaller fingers.

The Rush's HVGA TFT display, with a 480x320-pixel resolution, is on the lower end of the scale. Colors are still fairly bright, but images lack the crispness and definition of higher-resolution screens.

Below the display are three capacitive buttons to open the menu, go home, and go back. Pressing and holding the Home button pulls up recent tabs. Above the display is the front-facing camera lens.

The Galaxy Rush has one physical feature that's rarely seen on a Samsung phone: a hardware camera button that not only opens the camera app, but also snaps shots when you hold it down. The left spine hosts a volume rocker and a microSD card slot. You'll find the power button and 3.5-millimeter headset jack up top. On the back is the 3.2-megapixel camera lens, plus an LED flash.

OS and features
Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich graces the Galaxy Rush, topped with Samsung's TouchWiz interface. The lock screen has Samsung's characteristic shortcuts on it for the dialpad, browser, and camera.

The phone has Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, and all the usual Google apps and services, like multiple accounts, YouTube, Maps, and turn-by-turn voice navigation.

Samsung Galaxy Rush uses Boost ID
Using Boost ID, you can download and switch among different profiles, or ID packs. Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

One-tap system access controls take up residence in the pull-down navigation menu, and you can pinch to view all your home screens, up to seven in all. You'll see stock Ice Cream Sandwich style in the app tray, which separates apps, widgets, and your downloaded apps into three windows.

However, you can change the entire look and feel of your interface using Boost ID, a feature that lets you download any number of IDs, or profiles. Download one by theme -- say Android basics or entertainment -- to get a prepackaged set of wallpaper, app shortcuts, and widgets centered on the theme. ID packs take some time to download, and are editable after the fact. While I tend to regard them as clutter, others may appreciate the preselected assistance.

When it comes to preloaded apps, you'll find the likes of the Boost Zone storefront, Samsung's app storefront, and Facebook to complement the music player, calendar, calculator, and video player.

You'll start seeing a lot more icons in your app tray if and when you start taking advantage of Boost ID.

Samsung Galaxy Rush
I'm still glad the Galaxy Rush has an LED flash, but I wish camera quality were better. Josh Miller/CNET

Samsung has given us high-quality, low-megapixel cameras for Boost Mobile in the past (specifically, the Samsung Galaxy Prevail.) That history makes the Galaxy Rush's 3.2-megapixel camera quality all the more disappointing.

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