Long before messaging phones became a trend, LG has been making feature phones with full QWERTY keyboards. Verizon has its line of Voyager and enV handsets, and Sprint has the LG Rumor and the subsequent LG Rumor 2. Though they made decent messaging phones, the previous Rumor handsets were more for the entry-level consumer due to their basic feature sets.
The LG Rumor Touch changes all that, however; it is the first touch-screen phone to bear the Rumor branding, and it carries a slew of improved features. Not only that, but the Rumor Touch carries a unique user interface that seems tailor made for sending and receiving text messages. Its impressive feature set includes a 2-megapixel camera, a 3.5mm headset jack, GPS, and EV-DO Rev. 0. The Rumor Touch is available now for $79.99 with a new two-year service agreement with Sprint.
When we first saw the LG Rumor Touch at CES 2010, we'll admit we were slightly underwhelmed. The design just reminded us so much of the LG Xenon that we were hard-pressed to be excited about it. Looking at it now however, we see it is actually not too bad. Measuring 4.2 inches long by 2.2 inches wide by 0.6 inch thick, the Rumor Touch has a straightforward rectangular shape with slightly curved sides and a soft touch back cover. At 4.7 ounces, it feels nice and solid in the hand without being too heavy.
As the name suggests, the Rumor Touch has a large 3-inch touch screen display on the front. It is capable of showing 262,000 colors and holds a 240 x 400-pixel WQVGA resolution, which results in a vibrant display with crisp text and images. You can adjust the brightness, the backlight time, and the font size. The touch screen is resistive so you can either use a stylus or your fingertips to navigate. It doesn't feel as smooth as a capacitive display, but it's not any slower than other resistive screens we've tried. You can add haptic feedback if you want the phone to vibrate whenever you select something and there's a touch calibration wizard if you want better touch precision. Underneath the display are three physical controls--the back key, the home screen key, and the Call key.
The user interface on the Rumor Touch is unlike most other touch screen phones we've tried. The welcome screen area is quite blank, except for the date, time, battery, and signal strength information on the top bar and a single shortcut to the home screen on the bottom. However, whenever you get new incoming text messages, you will see a small bubble icon on the upper right with a number that indicates how many you received. When you select that icon, all your new messages will appear as floating bubbles, filling up the normally empty welcome screen. From there you can either close them out or start replying to your messages. We thought this bubble interface idea is quite a clever one, especially if you're a big messaging fanatic.
When you select the home screen, you will find a simple list view of frequently used applications. You can easily customize this by adding and removing shortcuts. The main menu is presented in exactly the same boring list layout--we would've preferred some kind of variety here to differentiate the two zones. Still, at least it was easy enough to navigate to the features we wanted.
Another specialty that sets the Rumor Touch apart from other phones is the Hello UI, or Hello User Interface. It's accessible via the Contacts list and is essentially a smart way of grouping up your contacts. There are four colored dots on the left hand side, and each corresponds to a different group. To add a contact to a group, simply select the add symbol and choose a contact from your address book. The contact will then be represented on the Hello UI as a cartoon character--you can change this to one of 12 included characters or you can select your own picture to represent him or her.
You can add up to six contacts per group. From there you can drag and drop the icons around or you can snap them to a grid if you like. When you select an individual contact, a circle of shortcuts will appear around the image. They lead to a new text message, the most recent text conversation with him or her, a speed dial to that person, plus quick access to the contacts list. Perhaps the coolest thing you can do with the Hello UI is that you can draw a "lasso" around all the contacts in a particular group to send all of them a group text message.
To get to the number dial pad, you have to press the Call key. The virtual dial pad has large numbers so you can easily dial without messing up. There are also shortcuts to a new text message, the recent calls list, the phone book, and the aforementioned Hello UI. As for sending a text message, you can do so via the touch screen with either handwriting recognition or a T9 keypad. There's no virtual QWERTY keyboard, but that doesn't bother us because the Rumor Touch has a full physical keyboard.
The keyboard slides sideways to the right of the phone, which will then prompt the display to change from portrait to landscape mode. If you are doing this from standby, you'll be presented with the messaging menu the second you slide out the keyboard so you can get started on typing out texts straightaway. The keyboard is quite spacious--it is a five-row keyboard, which gives it one row just for numbers. The keys are raised above the surface in a smooth bubble shape so it's easy to text by feeling your way around. However, the Back, Enter, and arrow keys take up just a tad too much space on the right, which throws off our natural thumb typing position. It therefore takes a little slower to type out texts than we would like.
On the left spine of the Rumor Touch are the volume rocker and camera key, and the 3.5mm headset jack, the Power/Screen lock key, and the microSD card slot are on the right. The charger jack is on the bottom and the camera lens sits on the back next to the external speaker.