It’s understandable if you get a sense of déjà vu when you see the Samsung Rant; it’s a nearly a dead ringer for the LG Rumor. They both look like a candy-bar phone from the front, and both slide out horizontally to reveal a wide QWERTY keyboard underneath. Moreover, both messaging phones are offered by Sprint for $49.99. However, the Rant has EV-DO and GPS under the hood, making it a better value than the older LG device.
Designed for constant communicators and serial texters, the Rant and the Rumor are around the same size and weight (Rant: 4.5 x 2.1 x 0.7 inches, 4.6 ounces; Rumor: 4.3 x 2.0 x 0.7 inches, 4.1 ounces), and both have a 2-inch, 220 x 176-pixel screen. The screens on both reorient themselves when rotated, and two soft keys appear under the repositioned on-screen menu options.
The Rant’s keypad is about an inch wider and therefore roomier than the Rumor’s. Samsung put the extra real estate to good use with wide keys and spacing to minimize mistakes. While the keys are not as rounded or responsive as on a T-Mobile Sidekick, thumb-tapping is easier than on the Rant, which lacks raised edges on the sides.
The Rant’s navigation array is awkward. Three raised buttons—Speakerphone, Menu/OK, and Back—partially obstruct access to the surrounding toggle switches for the soft keys, Talk, and End, necessitating more-careful button pushing.
The resemblance between the Rant and the Rumor ends with these physical similarities. The Rant is a far more full-featured device, with EV-DO Rev. A, POP3 and IMAP email, GPS capabilities with Sprint Navigation, a full music player (albeit with a 2.5mm jack instead of a 3.5mm jack, and there’s no earbuds included), and a 2-megapixel camera and stereo Bluetooth—amenities all missing on the Rumor.
One Click Navigation
Sprint’s One Click navigation gives easy access to all the Rant’s goodies. Along the bottom of the screen is a carousel comprised of a series of application/function tile icons that you right- or left-click to step through.
You can easily customize the carousel by adding application/function tiles, such as direct access to Web-based news headlines or the weather, or you can add a shortcut to the shortcuts tile. This customization definitely speeds up access to functions you’d otherwise have to drill though menus to get to, such as the music player.
The Rant is compatible with Sprint’s TV service; we watched streaming clips from ABC News, CNN, Comedy Central, E!, ESPN, Fox Sports, and NBC News, all of which loaded quickly and played with minimal buffering delays. But the Rant’s LCD has a narrow viewing angle and appears polarized when shifted off-center.
The Rant can accept microSD Cards up to 16GB in capacity. We loaded 6GB of music; while our tracks sounded decent through our own headphones, playback is marred by having to wait nearly a minute for the phone to collect and display your song collection.
Pictures taken in sunlight by the Rant’s 2-MP camera had above-average color and crispness. Indoor shots were not as bright, a little less colorful, and a little less focused.
Sprint Navigation was zippier than we expected. It found our location in around 10 seconds even though we were indoors, and listed all the nearby McDonald’s locations within two miles of our location in about the same time. While not as pretty as the mapping on the iPhone or the T-Mobile G1, the Rant was faster and just as informative.
The Rant’s Web connection is about average for an EV-DO phone. Sprint’s homepage loads in about 5 to 6 seconds; the load speed of other WAP 2.0 pages depend on the amount of graphics. A Google search from the Google carousel bubble in the Once Click menu completed in around 9 seconds; NYTimes.com, CNN.com, and ESPN.com’s mobile sites loaded in 12 to 15 seconds, but non Web-optimized sites such as Laptopmag.com site took 35 seconds and were filled with overlapping text elements.
Callers reported near–landline-like vocal quality, but voices were a little thick at the Rant end; there’s plenty of volume, but we encountered a lot of over-modulation at the loudest levels. Rant’s full duplex speaker is located on the rear of the phone, making placement for hands-free conversation awkward. At the other end of the call, speakerphone sound was reported as being scratchy and filled with static, like bad CB radio reception.
Samsung rates the Rant’s battery at 5.6 hours. On our testing—which included a continuous call and playing music until the battery ran out—the Rant lasted around 5 hours. While it’s not spectacular, the Rant’s battery should see you through a full day.
Admittedly, much of our criticism of the Samsung Rant is nitpicky. For $49.99, the Rant packs in more bleeding-edge goodies—including GPS, Sprint TV, and the Sprint One Click UI—for the price than any other phone we’re run across. Also, it has one of the better keyboards we’ve seen in a text-centric device. The Rant may be a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-few, but for the price it’s easy to overlook some of these minor shortcomings.