A power button and headphone jack on top. The power button is slightly angled. It must get pressed when I sit down with it in my jeans pocket, because it restarts by itself. A volume rocker and microUSB port are on the left side, and a camera button is on the right. A 3.2 MP camera and a flash are on the back. There is also a small mirror next to the flash that I believe is used for self-portraits. The back has a slippery finish.
The front of the Rise features a 480 X 320 HVGA screen. If I lost you right there, let me explain: an HVGA screen is geek speak for a screen of average quality. The Rise and the Kyocera Hydro I reviewed earlier share the same screen. As I said in my Hydro review, this isn't super high def or incredibly detailed, but it will likely satisfy the Rise’s intended user. Maybe it’s me, but it seems it has a slight bluish tint.
Phones featuring slide-out keyboards are not known for being slim or feather light. The Rise is no exception at .56 inches and 5.54 ounces. However, it is comfortable to hold.
Software and Performance
The Rise runs an largely untouched version of Ice Cream Sandwich. (ICS is a very recent version of Android.) Only a few apps were added by Sprint. They are:
Sprint Zone lets you monitor your monitor your Sprint account, among other things.
Eco Mode supposedly reduces battery consumption, although I didn't notice a prominent difference with the mode on or off. It automatically turns on when the battery dips below 20%.
Sprint ID allows you download themes, apps, and ringtones.
In the performance department, you get what $250 pays for. Don’t get me wrong. The Rise is far from being unbearably slow. However, it does lag slightly when loading “heavy-duty” apps. Opening and closing processor-intensive apps like the camera app, game apps, etc., were the main culprits. This middling performance is powered by a single core 1 Ghz Snapdragon processor.
I’ll give you the good news first. Outdoor shots taken in plenty of light are sharp, properly exposed, and properly colored. If the Rise’s camera had a few more megapixels, this 3.2 MP camera could rival a point-and-shoot digital camera. However, indoor picture-taking is a different story. The Rise doesn’t perform nearly as well indoors. Photos often get soft and visibly noisy. When the white balance is left on auto, colors are not very accurate.
Since our area has poor Sprint reception, I didn't make many calls with the Rise. With the brief time I've spent gabbing, call quality seems OK.
The Rise’s battery life is respectable, but not overly abundant. With my medium-light usage, I had a comfortable amount of juice left. However, power users probably won’t find much battery left by the end of the day. (This is a moot point, because power users shouldn't be looking at this phone anyway.)
To summarize, the Kyocera Rise is a respectable phone. New smartphone users and avid texters will appreciate its recent version of Android, comfortable keyboard, and good outdoor camera performance. I don’t think they will be bothered by the middling performance speeds or screen.