Despite the smartphone craze that's sweeping America, statistics show significant growth in the prepaid market - and when the numbers are broken down, it's understandable. In an economy that's still recovering, the prospect of a $50 all-inclusive unlimited plan sounds far better than a $100 postpaid plan (prior to taxes). The Motorola Rambler, like other Boost Mobile offerings, supports the unlimited everything plan (calling, messaging, and data), but offers a full QWERTY keyboard for easy text messaging. It's available now for $99.99, and given its no contract status, it's a nice option for many.
With a short and stubby stature, the Rambler offers a volume rocker, speakerphone shortcut button, and USB charging port on the left. The right side houses the voice commands shortcut button and a 2.5mm headphone jack, and the camera is on the front. It's a unique shape, but offers two roomy displays. The 1.3-megapixel camera offers still shots and video recording, both of which are understandably mediocre. There's no flash, so you'll have to rely on natural light for pictures and video.
The Rambler sports a full QWERTY keyboard in lieu of a typical numeric keypad. The keys are white with red accents, and while they're a bit narrow, I was able to type at a regular speed within minutes. Once I reached a relatively fast typing speed, I noticed a slight lag. Certainly not a deal-breaker, but those that text quickly may want to try it out for a few days before committing to it. The menu is similar to what you've seen on Motorola devices in the past, but customized with a Boost Mobile look and feel. Icons are orange, and shortcuts like "Re-Boost" and "Get Stuff" can be found.
I've made a few test calls in Charlotte, and have been pleased with the call quality. Boost Mobile utilizes Sprint's CDMA and iDEN networks for connectivity, so the CDMA-equipped Rambler worked well. The speakerphone is sufficiently loud, and in my testing in a noisy coffee shop, my caller was able to understand what I was saying. I quickly turned off the speakerphone to avoid irritating patrons, but was able to hear them well. Despite its low-end status, the Rambler offers stereo Bluetooth, and I paired my BlueAnt headset to it and experienced good call quality.
The Rambler is a 1X device, so blazing fast data is out of the question. Still, WAP pages loaded in a reasonable amount of time, and I had no issues with the data-centric services on the phone. I would recommend Boost Mobile's BlackBerry 8330 to the data crowd, but the Rambler is decent enough for occasional web surfing. Given that it's a basic device, battery life has been good thus far. I've had it on since this morning, and through calling, text messaging, browsing the web, and toying around with the settings, it remains at three bars (out of an available three). I'll have additional battery numbers in the review, but I expect it to last for 2-3 days before needing a charge.
On a budget? Looking for a good device for your texting teenager? Sick of long-term contracts? If you answered "yes" to any of those questions, you may want to have a look at the Rambler. It's a low-end device, but the physical QWERTY keyboard is a nice touch and should appeal to those that message on a regular basis. Stay tuned for the review!