Like any good piece of gossip, the Rumor by LG gives you something to talk about. Offered through Sprint, this messaging phone is the perfect companion for the Facebook addict and text messaging fiend. A convenient and extremely comfortable slide-out QWERTY keyboard gives the attractive handset advanced text functions and makes it a messaging saint, but the frills end there (view Rumor photo gallery). Its subpar 1.3-megapixel camera and lack of stereo Bluetooth and 3G connectivity limit this phone's use to messaging-happy teens. On the other hand, you can't beat the price.
The Rumor is the perfect-looking communication accessory for the teenage or college-aged texter trying to stay clear of colored Sidekicks or face-plated devices. The rounded edges of our jet-black review unit (it also comes in white) gave the phone a stylish look and felt extremely comfortable in our hands. Not as bulky as the rival Sidekick LX or Verizon Wireless enV Vx9990, the 4.1-ounce phone was surprisingly light for its included features. The 4.3 x 2 x 0.7-inch device fit snugly in a pants pocket and took up very little space in a shoulder bag.
At first glance, the Rumor looks like a standard candy bar phone. Below the dimly lit 2-inch screen (220 x 176 pixels) lies a full numeric keypad, along with two soft keys, a four-way navigation toggle that doubles as a shortcut button, and a Menu/OK key in the middle. A dedicated speakerphone key (which also doubles as a Recent Calls shortcut), a Back key, and Talk and End/Power keys straddle the toggle.
Slide out its full QWERTY keyboard, though, and the Rumor switches the screen's orientation from portrait mode to landscape mode. All of a sudden, you've got one comfortable messaging device; we were able to thumb text messages and write e-mails and instant messages with few typos. The big and well-spaced keys have a rounded shape that makes typing a cinch. We liked that the messaging menu immediately pops up on the display when you slide the keyboard out, letting you text with even more speed. The slider felt quite solid, and we could open and close the phone with a good deal of force without seeing any slowing in the screen's adjustment.
When it comes to the device's multimedia options, nothing had us drooling. Riding Sprint's slower CDMA 2000 network (not its Power Vision EV-DO Rev. 0 or Rev. A network), the Rumor doesn't come with Sprint's Power Vision video offerings. The music player has a generic interface and doesn't include album art, though you can create playlists. Over-the-air music download services like Sprint's Music Store aren't available on the Rumor, either, but you can sideload MP3s to the device via the microSD Card slot, which is located on the phone's right rim. Listening to music is the biggest challenge, since the phone lacks stereo Bluetooth and has only a 2.5mm jack (not a standard 3.5mm) for plugging in earphones or a headset.
What the Rumor lacks in multimedia it attempts to make up for in social networking features. Its one-click access to Facebook, via the messaging menu, is perfect for addicts. We had an easy time logging into our account, and the layout, tailored for the device's Web browser, creates a better mobile Facebook experience than we've seen on other devices. We were disappointed by the screen's poor resolution and brightness, however, especially when viewing our friends' pictures. The Sprint Social Zone on the Rumor gives you instant access to LiveJournal, Vox, and Xanga. Though each costs $2.99 a month, these programs let you update your blogs easily.
Instant messaging clients from AOL, MSN, and Yahoo are included and performed adequately, and we like that they're easily accessible from the Messaging menu. However, it took the Rumor nearly a minute to log us in and display our contact list. The lack of EV-DO makes surfing the Web feel like a turtle race: Citysearch.com loaded in 15 seconds, and the mobile version of NYTimes.com took close to a minute. The Rumor also features GPS navigation via Sprint Navigation, which provides full turn-by-turn directions with local search, voice, and a map display. The local search function worked as promised; we were able to find the nearest Dunkin' Donuts in midtown Manhattan.
The 1.3-MP camera can capture quick snapshots of friends or locations in bright lighting, but that's about all it can do. We liked the quick shutter speed, but the pictures came out blurry more times than not. The camcorder function is a nice bonus, but it produces blurry videos.
Call quality was good on our tests. Other callers said we came through fine, and a test voicemail message we left on a landline sounded louder and clearer than one left with the Sprint UpStage. The speakerphone quality was a bit staticky. With moderate use, the Rumor lasted a full day on a charge; however, frequent visits to our Facebook page pushed the battery bars down.
The Rumor by LG is a hip and solid phone for staying socially connected on the go. The $49 price point is attractive, though it won't get you top-notch multimedia functions. The phone's solid voice quality and messaging capabilities should be enough to keep cash-strapped, texting students happy.
View:Rumor by LG photo gallery
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