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Review: Kyocera Rise for Sprint

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Is It Your Type? Body The Three S's  

Kyocera's phones are rarely the eye-catching kit that gleams on store shelves, and the Rise doesn't do anything to help bolster Kyocera's design chops. It is a blocky, chunky device with a spartan design that lacks any sort of luster. Or, if we're being nice, it's a form-over-function kinda smartphone. That's not to say that the hardware doesn't have some strong points.

The Rise might have a black front, but the sides and back are mostly a dark shade of gray that's glossy and reflective enough to signal a rescue helicopter should the need ever arise. It may be chunky, but it is also compact. The Motorola Photon Q, for example, had a much larger footprint. The Rise feels comfortable against your palm thanks to the curved surfaces and smooth plastic of the battery cover. It is easy to wrap your hand all the way around it and the weight is just right. It is not too light as to feel cheap, nor too heavy as to cause fatigue when using it. It'll slip into most any pocket like greased lightning.

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The display has more bezel around it than I'd care to see. It looks small thanks to the thick black frame in which it is set. Though the Rise runs Android 4.0, it has four capacitive buttons along the bottom: Back, Home, Multitask, and Menu. The Menu button icon is the same three little vertical dots that are used for on-screen menu buttons in Android 4.0, which helps train new users of Android 4.0. The capacitive buttons are responsive and work well.

The volume toggle, positioned on the left, is no problem to find and works really well. The micro-USB port is below it. Surprisingly, there is a dedicated camera button on the right side of the Rise. It has good travel and feedback. The power/lock button on the top of the phone is excellent. It has a very good feel to it, and is the easiest button on the phone to find. There is a 3.5mm headset jack next to it.

The slider mechanism feels fantastic. There's plenty of spring assistance and it snaps open and shut with authority, with but a little nudge from your fingers. When open, the Rise is comfortable to hold and use for messaging. It's well balanced and the relatively narrow shape of the keyboard necessitates fewer gymnastics on the part of your thumbs.

The keyboard is one of the best I've used from Kyocera. The buttons are well spaced, have a good shape that makes them easy to find, and the travel and feedback of the keys is perfect. Probably my only complaint is that the keyboard has four rows and not five. The numbers are reachable via the function key, and span the top row. The bottom row is reserved for the shift, function, symbol, and space bar buttons. It also has directional buttons for moving the cursor across the screen. There is a dedicated @ button, and a period button, but you have to hit the Symbol button to get any any other characters.

The battery cover peels off easily. It is very thin and flimsy. Be careful not to break it. The microSD card, which is buried in the edge of the phone, can be accessed without removing the battery.

Aside from the somewhat boring design, the Kyocera Rise has solid hardware that works well.

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