Update, April 2010: Read our review of the Rumor Touch that will replace the Rumor 2.
Reviewed March 30, 2009 by Tong Zhang, Senior Editor
The original LG Rumor, released in late October 2007 by Sprint, sold well. It was an affordable texting phone with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, good looks and a sturdy build. 1.5 years later, Sprint and LG Rumor have released the Rumor 2. The new model largely keeps the same form factor and key features such as built-in GPS, 1.3 megapixel camera and microSD expansion slot. So what are the differences between the LG Rumor and the LG Rumor 2? Aside from the shinier casing, the LG Rumor 2 adds a fourth row of keys dedicated to numbers, increased the screen resolution to QVGA and put in A2DP wireless stereo Bluetooth. Also cosmetically the LG Rumor 2 now has a removable back plate and the phone’s package includes a designer plate in addition to a plain one. What’s still missing on the Rumor 2 compared to the Samsung Rant is Sprint EV-DO 3G and services that utilize the fast data network such as Sprint TV and the Sprint Music store.
The introductory price remains at $49.99 after a mail-in rebate with a 2-year contract. The LG Rumor 2 is available in two colors: Black Titanium and Vibrant Blue, and it’s exclusively offered by Sprint.
Design and Ergonomics
Aesthetically speaking, the LG Rumor 2 looks like a shiner version of the original Rumor and is just slightly longer and wider than the Rumor. It certainly looks more attractive in the new casing and the back plate is now interchangeable with designer plates. Thankfully the back plate doesn’t have a shiny surface so it’s not slippery. When the slider is closed, the LG Rumor 2 looks like a candy bar phone and feels comfy in hand. The front numbers are large and easy to use, but the 4-way directional ring is slippery and narrow. Slide open the phone to reveal the QWERTY keyboard which is one of the best keyboards we’ve used on a phone. The added row of number keys is very handy when dialing, texting and navigating menus. This is definitely a big improvement over the original Rumor which often required too many clicks to perform functions. The QWERTY keyboard has a normal layout and offers a dedicated “smiley face” key.
Mobile users who covet QVGA displays didn’t get their wish with several messaging phones including the LG Rumor, Samsung Gravity and the Samsung Propel. The LG Rumor 2 ups the resolution and offers a 2” QVGA display that rotates when you open the slider. The screen looks reasonably bright and color saturated and is good for viewing photos and videos. Outdoor viewing however isn’t as good as indoor viewing.
Phone Features and Applications
Like the original Rumor, the LG Rumor 2 is a digital dual band CDMA phone and has only 1xRTT for data and no EV-DO support. The phone gets great reception but the voice quality can’t compete with the original Rumor. Incoming voice sounds muffled and outgoing voice sounds digitized. We tested the phone with Bluetooth headsets which didn’t help the voice quality much either. Through the Plantronics Voyager 835, incoming voice was better than the phone’s own earpiece, but outgoing voice was very garbled. When working with the Cobra CBTH2 Bluetooth headset, the Rumor had decent outgoing voice but incoming voice was not clear and had low volume.
The LG Rumor 2 has support for most calling management services including caller ID, Call forwarding, call waiting and three-way calling. The Rumor 2’s contacts database can store up to 600 contacts and 7 numbers for each contact entry. You can assign 98 speed dialing numbers as well as special ringers and picture ID. The Rumor 2 has a great voice command application that does an excellent job at not only voice dialing but also searching for names, numbers and web site bookmarks. The voice controls worked well over Bluetooth headsets in our tests. Other applications and tools include Calendar, World Clock, Calculator, Voice Memo, Notepad, D-day counter and Unit converter.
Messaging and Sprint Navigation
As a messaging-centric phone, the LG Rumor 2 has all the bells and whistles including one of the best QWERTY keyboards and a full set of messaging services. The Rumor 2 supports SMS, Picture messaging and voice SMS messaging, as well as web-based email and chat. The web-based email launches fast once you’ve set it up, and offers popular services including AOL, Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail, Gmail and more. The chat portal offers 24/7 chatting and flirting services.
The Rumor 2 has an aGPS and Sprint Navigation v2.1. The GPS works reasonably well on the Rumor 2 and 3D maps look decent on the phone’s 2” QVGA display though it’s not very bright outdoors. The navigation and turn-by-turn directions have some delays, mainly thanks to the 1x data speed but navigation and position fixes are very accurate in metro areas. The voice guidance is on target but the speakerphone isn’t very loud and had difficulty combating road noise even in a quiet sedan. Sprint Navigation has lots of useful features including local POI searches and messaging locations to friends. But it isn’t free: you can buy the day-pass for $2.99/day or pay a monthly fee of $9.99/month.
Due to the lack of EV-DO, Sprint TV fans will have to look elsewhere-- the Samsung Rant is a good candidate if you like this form factor. The LG Rumor 2 does have a music player but it doesn’t have access to the Sprint Music Store (again that requires EV-DO). The phone has a microSD card slot that’s easy to access and you can load all your tracks onto a card to play on the phone. The Rumor 2’s music player can play music files in MP3, WAV, MID, AMR and QCP formats. Sorry no iTunes format support here. Music sounds decent through phone’s speaker but the volume is relatively low. Thankfully the Rumor 2 supports Bluetooth A2DP stereo and music playback through Bluetooth stereo headsets sounds quite good though not superb.
Without Sprint TV support, the LG Rumor 2 is left with Sprint’s NFL Mobile Live and NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile. These free services give you real time NFL scores, drafts and NASCAR leaderboard and driver stats, and more related info. You can also download games, ringers, screen savers and other content to the My Stuff folder.
Like the original Rumor, the LG Rumor 2 has a 1.3 megapixel camera that takes decent pictures, but it really needs a 2 megapixel camera to make it a better camera phone. The still images taken with the Rumor 2 aren’t bad by 1.3 megapixel camera phone standards and have good color balance. Indoor shots look reasonably sharp given the noise level. The camera phone does have settings for color tone, resolution and quality level, and it has a self-timer and fun frames as well. Unlike the original Rumor, the LG Rumor 2 can’t shoot video.
The LG Rumor 2 has a standard Li-Polymer battery that’s 950 mAh, which is the same as the original Rumor. Oddly the original Rumor had great battery runtimes while the new Rumor 2 does not. The talk time is less than 4 hours and standby time is no longer than 3 days. We charged the phone’s battery quite a few times to condition it, but the battery life didn’t improve.
The LG Rumor 2 feels like the original Rumor in sleeker clothing. While we dig the roomier keyboard with its added number row and the higher resolution screen, we find the phone largely remains similar to the original Rumor. For budget-minded texting addicts, the LG Rumor 2 is a good choice at an affordable price. But for existing LG Rumor users and those who want EV-DO for faster web browsing, tethering, Sprint TV, Sprint Music Store support; there’s little reason to get the Rumor 2.
Pro: Sleeker and cooler looking than the original Rumor. Awesome keyboard and very good reception. Good messaging support and reasonable GPS performance.
Con: Not much change from the original Rumor. Voice quality isn’t very good. No EVDO. Battery life has decreased from the original. Can’t record video. No AAC support for music playback.
Price: $49.99 with 2-year contract after mail-in rebate and discount. $249.99 without contract.
Display: 2” QVGA 262K color TFT screen. Resolution: 240 x 320 pixels.
Battery: Lithium Ion rechargeable battery, 950 mAh, user replaceable. Claimed talk time: up to 5.5 hours. Claimed standby time: up to 7 days.
Performance: Phone book can store 600 entries.
Size: 4.41 x 2.05 x 0.67 inches. Weight: 4.2 oz.
Phone: CDMA PCS, digital dual band, 800/1900 MHz. 1xRTT for data.
Camera: 1.3 megapixel camera with self timer. Can’t record video.
Audio: Built-in mic and speaker. Supports 32-chord polyphonic ringtones. Has vibrating and silent modes. Can record voice memos. Has built-in music player that supports MP3, WMA, MID, AMR and QCP files.
Networking: Bluetooth v2.0, supports headset, hands-free, A2DP, AVRCP, dial-up networking, object push (vCard/vCal), basic printing, file transfer and phone book access profiles. USB 2.0.
Software: Flash UI support. Contacts, Calendar, World Clock, Calculator, Voice Memo, Notepad, D-day counter and Unit converter. Music player, WAP browser, SMS, Picture Mail, VoiceSMS, web-based email, IM and Chat.