Sprint recently sent us their newest text based phone, the Rant by Samsung. One of the latest additions to the Sprint line up, this phone has a full QWERTY keyboard that makes sending text messages and email incredibly straightforward. The real question is, will it hold up to the heavy use that power users with the need for a keyboard will inevitably dish out?
The Rant comes with a standard 2 -megapixel camera with vanity mirror, 172 x 220 pixel screen supporting 262,144 colors, MP3 player and 2.0 Stereo Bluetooth for wirelessly listening to music. The music player supports MP3, AAC, and AAC+ file formats, while video supports MPEG4 and 3GPP media files. The device itself is pretty small with dimensions being only 4.5" x 2.1" x 0.7” and weighing in at 4.58 oz. The Rant also includes a microSD card slot and USB for data transfers. This device is dual band (800/1900 MHz ) with a 960mAh Li–Ion battery, for up to 5.6 hours of constant talk time. With moderate use we still had just under half the battery remaining at the end of the day.
Included in the box is a standard wall charger, data cable and, instead of a headset, they actually include an alternate battery cover. The extra battery cover has a light, swirly tribal-like design as opposed to the black one. Other contents of the box include the “getting started” guide, user manual, product registration card, feedback form and a very handy microSD card adapter for computer use; the Rant comes with a 1GB microSD card. Interestingly enough, Sprint appears to be going green: they include an envelope to use to send in your old phone for recycling.
The Rant is built like a rock, very sturdy and durable. The phone can handle being dropped several times without breaking apart, and in no way feels cheaply made. The slide out keyboard is very sturdy with two tracks supporting the slide. The camera button could not be in a better position for taking landscape photos. It's not all good news, however; the issues we did see were the soft keys, talk and end buttons were a little hard to press. The numeric keys on the face of the device are so close to the bottom of the device that it is extremely hard to dial with one hand and not drop the phone. The keyboard's keys were nicely laid out but a little too hard to press for our liking.
Navigating the menus is straightforward on the Rant, the main menu is displayed at the bottom of the screen with sections listed in a line. As you press left and right to flip through the options the contents of a section will pop up when you stop, displaying everything in a quick, easy to read list. A convenient shortcut menu completes the GUI, making quick navigation even easier for the user.
The Rant is made for messaging, and included on the slide out keyboard is a designated text key to jump straight into the SMS editor. Email is very easy to read and reply to, the application does not have a lot of extras that can end up bloating the program. The downside to the seemingly light email application is that Sprint left out the ability to add a signature any of the email accounts.
Browsing the internet was like pulling teeth. The browser tends to render the pages the way they are supposed to look, but the speed is on a par with dial-up. I was unable to get a single page other than Google.com to load completely. The phone apparently does not have the memory to render a full webpage; other Sprint phones had no trouble with signal in the same location, leading us to think that it's not a connection speed problem.
The media player handles audio files well, with the ability to create playlists of music on the go. While playing a song the cover art is displayed, with decent image quality, and you're able to select another song without ending the current one playing. Video is played with surprising quality given the screen size and resolution, though the video player seemed to lag when going into a video and exiting playback.
Bluetooth on the Rant connected with all the headsets we tried quickly and without any trouble at all. Call quality with Bluetooth - as well as without - was very loud and crisp. With the volume turned up fully voices do start to sound more distorted, as if the volume is too loud for the speaker. The speakerphone on the Rant left a little to be desired, though, with more treble than anything else making music almost seem hollow.
On a single charge the phone lasted very well, not enough to hold out two full days but we did not need to charge during the day once. Neither did we experience any dropped calls during our entire time with the Rant. Basic navigation quickly became second nature, and with all of the programmable shortcuts we rarely had to look at what we were doing.
Overall, we would recommend this phone to anyone who likes to text message. The keyboard is well laid out, even including a designated text key, but the buttons being hard to press keep it from being ideal. We can't wholly recommend the Rant to anyone who heavily uses email or browses the web often, as there is a lack of functionality and control in these areas; you'd be better served with a “true” smartphone. In the end, the phone manages the basic functions of a phone very well, but when it comes to advanced features the Rant is just is not as easy to use as others on the market. Rated against similar phones on Sprint’s network we would give this phone a 6.8.
The Samsung Rant is available from Sprint now, priced at $49.99 after a mail-in rebate and with a new two-year service agreement.