Stock Android 4.0; Comfortable physical keyboard; Very affordable; Good call quality
Small, dull display; No 4G ; Poor battery life; Mediocre camera; Pricier overall than Virgin Mobile version
The Kyocera Rise offers Android 4.0 and a comfortable physical keyboard for just $20, but the low-res display and short battery life are turnoffs.
At first glance, the $19.99 Kyocera Rise seems like too good of a deal to pass up. This Android Ice Cream Sandwich handset features a full QWERTY keyboard and decent performance at a bargain basement price. However, given the trade-offs involved, you'll want to think long and hard before making that two-year commitment.
The 3.5-inch display on the front of the device is surrounded by a thick black glossy bezel. Four capacitive buttons (Back, Home, Recent Apps and Menu) sit along the bottom of the bezel. Kyocera decided against adding a front-facing camera, an omission that's understandable given the low price--and the lack of 4G.
The majority of the Rise's rear panel is swathed in glossy gray plastic. The top and bottom panels are panels are lined with more black rubberized plastic. A 3.2 megapixel rear-facing camera, LED flash and mirror sit along the top of the panel above a white Kyocera logo. While the plastic paneling doesn't feel cheap, it is very slippery. We wished the sides of the phone were lined with soft-touch plastic for a better grip.
The 5.5 ounce device slid easily into our pants pocket. However the bulky 4.4 x 2.4 x 0.6-inch frame made a noticeable, unsightly bulge.
Display and Audio
Colors on "Man with the Iron Fists" trailer were rather muted. We had difficulty distinguishing reds from pink in the pagoda scene.
The 343 lux display also fell short of the 380 lux Android phone category average. On the plus side, viewing angles were pretty wide, allowing us to watch the trailer in a variety of angles without significant washout.
The Kyocera Rise delivered loud, clear audio from its rear-mounted speaker. The audio easily filled our small test room and offered crisp dialogue during "Man with the Iron Fists." As we listened to Jamiroquai's "Cosmic Girl," the synthesized instrumentals melded perfectly with lead singer's Jason Kay's distinctive tenor.
The handset also features a stock Android virtual keyboard and a Swype keyboard, complete with strong haptic feedback. Keys on the Swype keyboard are long and closely spaced, perfect for tracing out a message.
Software and Interface
Android purists will find plenty to love on the Kyocera Rise. With a few minor exceptions, the phone shows off Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) in all its understated glory. A large digital clock sits on the lockscreen. Instead of a sliding lockscreen, there are icons for lock and camera that you flick upward to activate.
The Rise has five customizable homescreens. A thin light bar near the bottom of the display separates the omnipresent icons (Phone, Contacts, Apps, Messaging and Sprint ID) along the bottom and the rest of the display. A small blue line within the bar shows which page the user is on.
Users that need a little variety can use Sprint ID to spice things up. Sprint ID features a number of ID packs that come bundled with their own skins and apps. For example, downloading the Fantasy Football pack adds a pigskin wallpaper, as well as apps for SportsCaster, CBS Sports Pro Football and Yahoo! Fantasy Football '12.
Third-party apps include YouTube and ICE, which allowed us to create In Case of Emergency contacts.
On the CPU portion of the Benchmark app, the Rise scored 2,060, which is lower than the 2,645 category average and the 2,931 turned in by the faster 1.4-GHz CPU inside the $49 myTouch Q on T-Mobile.
When we ran An3DBench graphics test, the Rise notched 7,275. That showing tops the 6,996 average but was a bit behind the myTouch (7,397).
The Kyocera Rise comes with 2GB of onboard storage that can be expanded to 32GB via the microSD card.
3G and Web Browsing
Those searching for 4G or 4G LTE speeds should look elsewhere; the Kyocera Rise is firmly rooted in the land of 3G. When we ran Speedtest.net test, the Rise delivered an average of 710 Kbps downloads and 610 Mbps upload speeds.
At least the device managed to load mobile sites in a decent amount of time. Loading the mobile versions of NYTimes.com, ESPN.com and CNN.com took 4.3, 7.9 and 8.5 seconds, respectively. The desktop version of Laptopmag.com took considerably longer at 33.7 seconds.
Making calls with the Rise was a pleasant experience. The handset delivered satisfying results across the board on Sprint's network. Callers on landlines and mobile devices reported clear, loud audio in indoor and outdoor settings. There were only a few instances of distracting background noise. Calls were nice and crisp on our end, although our voice echoed on some mobile-to-mobile calls.
Plans and Value
The Kyocera Rise's $19.99 price tag seems like a steal--before the cost of a two-year plan is factored in. Sprint offers two flavors of its unlimited data plan. The $109.99 version offers unlimited talk, text and data and adds up to a whopping $2,659.75 after two years plus the cost of the phone. The $99.99 version delivers 900 Anytime minutes and costs $2,419.75 over two years, while the $79.99 plan has 450 Anytime minutes and comes to a grand total of $1,939.75.
Virgin Mobile, by comparison, offers the Rise for $99.99 with a $55 no-contract unlimited everything plan, which translates to $1,419.99 over 24 months. That's a savings of $519.76 compared with Sprint's $79.99 plan.
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|Form Factor||QWERTY Slider|
|Operating System||Android 4.0|
|Data||EV-DO Rev. A|
|CPU||1-GHz Qualcomm MSM8655|
|Memory Expansion Type||microSD Card|
|Display (main)||3.5 inches|
|Bluetooth Type||Bluetooth 2.1 EDR|
|Front Camera Resolution||none|
|Camera Resolution||3.2 MP|
|Talk / Standby Time||8.6 hours|
|Size||4.44 x 2.38 x 0.56 inches|
|SAR Rating (Head)|
|SAR Rating (Body)|