It would appear that smartphones are taking over the mobile telecom world with iPhone, Blackberry, and Android leading the pack. There are still millions of user who desire a simply feature phone without web and email. Indeed there are users who want just a phone and nothing more. Then there are some “in-betweeners” who want a little more than just a phone but a little less than a full-blown smartphone. The in-betweeners want a phone that can take pictures, send and receive text messages, take advantage of custom ringtones and provide basic calendar and alert functionality. And despite the strength and ubiquity of the smartphone market, there is still a place for feature phones for the in-betweeners. One such phone is the Motorola Rival.
The Rival is a petite phone with limited touch screen capability (more on that later), a slide out QWERTY keyboard, full text and multimedia features, calendar, alarm clock, a camera, and customizable ringtones. Its design and purpose is perfect for the in-betweener who does not want a smartphone but wants more than simple voice calling.
The Motorola Rival has an interesting form factor. It is a side sliding phone. Sliding the front of the phone reveals the full QWERTY keyboard underneath. You can then rotate the phone on its side to type messages or do any other action you wish. The front of the phone consists of the 2.1″ color display, a round D-pad, Send and End keys hardware keys, a “Back” key and a number pad key which calls up the on-screen touch keypad. Keep in mind the touch screen functionality only works for dialing on the on-screen keypad. It is not a full touch screen experience. The D-pad must still be used for all other navigation. These controls are simple and do what you would expect them to. They are intuitive as is the default Verizon menu system.
Turning the phone on its side and sliding out the keyboard, the screen image rotates so that all phone functions can be performed with the QWERTY keyboard. If you put the phone in the landscape position with the keyboard out during a call, the call will be switched to speakerphone. This is a handy feature if you need to navigate on your phone during a call.
They keyboard is on the small size because the Rival is a small phone. However it is possible to get quite used to typing on it with your thumbs. I have medium sized hands and I was able to get used to it within the first day. If you can type a text message on a D9 pad, you can type on this. When the keyboard is out, the bezel below the screen becomes touch sensitive so that options on the screen can be selected by touched one of two LED illuminated points on the bezel next to the option to be selected. This is an interesting take on the touch screen technology that is so prevalent these days.
The Rival’s camera is a 2 megapixel camera with a camera button on the side of the phone. Music lovers can also enjoy their tunes with this phone using the 3.5mm headphone jack. However the Rival only comes with 136MB of internal memory but supports a MicroSD card via a slot on the side of the phone.
The first four weeks with this phone was great. Everything worked as it should until one day it began to simply turn off. It would power down on its own and no sooner had I restarted it than it would shut down again. The battery was fully charged and furthermore plugging the phone up to the power adapter did not keep it from randomly powering off. I was forced to send it back to Verizon Wireless for a replacement unit.
The replacement unit came but a new set of problems was introduced. The touch bezel (landscape mode) on this replacement unit would engage without my touching it. It would perform functions without my touching the LED illuminated “dots” on the bezel. This issue made it practically impossible to text or perform any other functions in landscape mode. Alas, I had to send this second Rival back to Verizon Wireless for a replacement.
I received a third unit and the same problem persisted.
I should mention the warranty and replacement policy on this phone in case you decide to try this phone out. Verizon Wireless has a 30-day return/exchange policy whereby you can exchange the device within 30 days. Afterward, however, the phone is found to be faulty, it can only be exchanged for the same model phone. Since the issues with my first Rival began after the 30-day period I was locked into that phone and would have to purchase a different phone if I desired to have a different one (which is what I ended up doing).
Motorola continued its trend of pushing the envelope when it comes to mobile handset design. The Rival has all the right features for the person who wants a great featured messaging phone without having to go all out and get a smartphone. Unfortunately it is plagued by some design issues that seem to vary from unit to unit. So if you decide to give this phone a try, just be aware that it could be a great experience or yours could suffer from the same issues as my three Rivals. Good luck!