What's Good: It's a godsend for mobile text/IM/email addicts; slide-out QWERTY is comfortable and requires about 60 seconds of adaptation; it's Sprint TV and Sprint Music Store capable; music plays in background; stereo Bluetooth; camera with video capture and night shot; photo caller ID; GPS; comes with extra back cover, complete with curly doodles; loads of fun.
What's Not Good: Web browsing is low-priority; no dedicated music controls; background noise on Rant end can be problematic; more SD storage out of the box would be nice.
Bottom Line: If you like to keep touch on the go, the Rant has got you covered. It's a messaging monster that's easy to use. It supports Sprint TV and the Sprint Music Store, and does surprisingly well in the multimedia department, for a messaging phone. A camera with video and some basic effects make it the perfect accessory for shooting off updates or flirting with friends. With expandable storage and a focus on fun, the Rant is a blast for the perpetually mobile.
Replacing the Rumor as Sprint's primary texter, Rant is a messaging powerhouse. The keyboard feels great and is easy to use in light and dark environments. Every aspect of this phone is geared towards text and multimedia communications.
Rant supports Sprint's TV and Music Store, so there's plenty of portable entertainment available at 3G Speeds. With stereo Bluetooth and music in the background, the phone could be a student's dream come true. But the music controls aren't as quick and ready as they could be. Still, I'm surprised by the multimedia functions on this low-cost, text-centric candybar.
The first phase of any phone shopper's quest is to decide what they need a phone to do, what they really want their phone to do, and what features would simply be nice little extras.
Rant doesn't pretend to be anything it's not. It has a lot of features common to phones in its price range; no mind-blowing specs or jaw-dropping photos here. Rant's strength lies in meticulous attention to one particular area of functionality; it specializes in quick communications. You won't be watching hi-def vids, but when it comes to text-ability, this thing is bursting at the seams.
The first thing I noticed when holding the rant was how solid and tough it feels. It's a pretty heavy device. I prefer rugged phones, because they can take a beating and last a number of years. On the other hand, the heavier the phone, the harder the fall. This one seems like it could handle some drops though.
In other reviews, I've referred to my ultra-hardy control phone - it's also a Samsung. They make some durable gear. I've tried to kill it many times... and it will not die. I respect that. If this is the first time those words have run through your mind, you need to see better movies. If you've heard it but can't place it, shoot me a message.
Rant comes in red and black flavors. I've got the black one, which has a thin blue seam that frames the screen and separates the navigation buttons from the phone's key pad. There are a lot of buttons on this thing, which may be why Samsung opted for software control of the music player. More on that later.
It's got the twelve-keys you'd expect; digits, pound and asterisk. Above that there are the send and end keys; a menu/ok button, which is surrounded by a directional pad; a back button; a call history/voice command button; and two other multifunction buttons that relate to options displayed at the bottom of the screen. So there's all of the face controls.
On the left side you have a volume rocker, and two soft keys that only work when the keyboard is out. I found a 2.5mm headphone jack, but there aren't any buds in the box. Looks like that stereo Bluetooth feature will be getting some use. If phones are not included, a 3.5mm jack makes more sense. Maybe they are included, but missing from this reviewers' package. No headphone mention in the ?what's included? list on the box.
The right side only has one button ? for the camera. There's also a miniUSB socket for charging and data transfers. The corner hosts a lanyard clip-point.
The back of the phone is home to a speaker, and one that packs a good punch, for its size. There's also a 2.0 MP cam with a framing mirror, and it takes video and night shots. This is apparently a software enhancement; there is no flash.
Here's where it gets interesting. Slide the face to the right, and you find a full QWERTY keyboard that's well laid-out and beautifully back-lit. Bringing it out causes the screen to go into landscape mode, and those two soft keys I spoke of before spring to life.
The software will be familiar to current Sprint customers. One-Click, the carousel, and the newer bubble widgets are included. It's a good-looking screen for this level of phone, and the software is pretty friendly and intuitive.
Overall, it's a good-looking device; an optimized and modernized take on the old candybar form factor. It's tasty and slick, and among the best in its field for typing. In this price range, you're not going to find many phones offering more features. And definitely very few that are so highly-specialized. This focus makes for a fun user experience.
The Rant is full of cool little features that I wouldn't expect from one of those cheap-with-a-contract phones. For example; when you've dialed a number, but not yet hit send, the name of the state you're calling pops up on the screen. Kind of random, unexpected, and useful. I've wondered where I was calling before. Heck, I probably Google area codes one or two times a month on my computer, so that's a nifty trick.
Once the call goes through, there can be some trouble if there's noise on the Rant end of the line. The mic isn't as sensitive as higher-end phones, and you really need to speak up to overcome the sounds around you. It isn't bad in quiet or moderately noisy places, but standing on the corner of a busy intersection, I found myself yelling. Otherwise, the phone blocked out everything; the person on the other end heard silence.
Other than that issue, the voice quality is pretty good. Where the rant really shines is in text communications. The keyboard is excellent. The keys are firm but rubbery, so my thumbs aren't sore or raw, even though I must have just typed 1500 words over the last few days. That's a lot on a phone, and really... I'm not fatigued at all. The keyboard looks good as well, and is very easy to see in light and dark environs. I wish I could say the same for my G1.
When you slide out the keyboard, the screen goes landscape, and asks you what kind of message you want to create: Text Message, Picture mail, VoiceSMS, Email, or IM. It couldn't be more quick and simple. This thing is what message fanatics dream about. Those two soft keys on the left side of the phone's face have corresponding options displayed on the screen. Their functions change, depending on what you are doing, and come in very handy.
In terms of all of the text communication functions, I have zero complaints. Zero. Rant plays its part very well. Audio cues are used tastefully throughout. I love the tapping sound it makes during typing. It's kind of thick, but honestly, what do you want from a phone? There's a lot packed into this little bar.
Rant is lacking a bit in the multimedia department. It gets Sprint TV and Music Store access, but there aren't any dedicated music control buttons. This is a tad disappointing, and I think the same customer who wants to be in constant communication with friends (this is not a business device) is likely to want quick control over their music.
Music plays in the background, but you actually have to navigate back to the music store app to pause songs or skip tracks. If you are at the home screen with nothing open, it takes six button-presses to get to the panel where music can be controlled. This negates the purpose of playing music in the background. If a user is in the middle of an IM and wants to pause a song, it takes like, ten clicks.
The soft keys on the edge of the face are useless when the keyboard is tucked away, and there are plenty of other useless keys available when the keyboard is out. It would have been possible to assign music controls to some of them. I've searched the manual and Internet, and have come up empty-handed. If I'm missing something here, please contact the site so we can update this review.
The speaker is on the back and I wish they could have found a place for it on the front. Still, it sounds pretty darn loud when you hold the phone, cupping your fingers behind it. Doing this boosted volume considerably, and caused Will Farrell's SNL bit on his home-made wine crack me up last night.
I've read complaints about Sprint TV looking blocky, but I've had decent a experience. Not perfect, but decent. The phone is $50 after rebate and contract. C'mon! Problems on other devices are a different story.
It's not a web phone, and shouldn't be judged as such. Internet is basic and won't be used extensively. Navigating the phone's software is intuitive, and it's easy to customize. The new standard Sprint carousel is used, and you can set up One-Click and desktop bubbles to get some web content fast and without hassle. The designers did a great job of integrating some basic web content into a messaging phone.
Overall, it's one of the best messaging devices I've ever used. The phone could be just a bit more media friendly. Dedicated music buttons and a standard headphone jack would make this more of a dual-purpose phone. As it is, it's a very well-designed messaging hand-held. Besides, Samsung and Sprint needed to leave some space in their line-up for the Highnote!
It's tempting to get wrapped up in the myriad features of the latest $800 gadget. But how many of those smart phone functions actually get used beyond a week after purchase? How many of them serve a purpose, to you, other than as a bullet-point on the box? Don't give me that, ?I might need to create a spreadsheet on the bus... one day.?
A lot of phones are trying to be everything to everyone at the moment, and it's refreshing to see Samsung approach both the Highnote and Rant with such singular vision. That's not to say that either of these phones are lacking critical functions - just that Rant does exactly what it should: facilitate communications. And it does this very well.
I do wonder why Samsung would offer background music without easy controls, but for the price, I consider the multimedia functions a bonus. As it is, the Rant is an excellent deal for the compulsive texter. It does more than just that, with email, VoiceSMS, PictureMail, and IMs. It will keep you in touch wherever you are, and probably cause disruptive problems in work and/or school. This phone induces lots of social interaction.