The Kyocera Rise is a compact, QWERTY-equipped smartphone available from Sprint, Sprint subsidiary Virgin Mobile, and Sprint MNVO Ting. The phone is one of the first to bring Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) to an entry-level device, and it is also one of the first Ice Cream Sandwich devices to come with a QWERTY keyboard.
The phone is the successor to last year’s Kyocera Milano, a tiny 3.2 inch Gingerbread handset with a stylish, bubbly keyboard and solid build quality but marred by a poor, fuzzy display. The Rise is a handset which “rises” to reveal a compact but functional keyboard. The Rise’s keyboard is largely unchanged from the Milano’s, just bigger and with blue function keys instead of a last year’s yellowish green. The keyboard has four rows, with the function key required to access the numbers spread across the top row. The keyboard is the Kyocera Rise’s biggest selling point, and it does not disappoint.
The Rise’s 3.5 inch screen is only slightly larger than the Milano’s, but the difference is night and day. The screen real estate feels far more expansive, and the Milano’s fuzziness has been left behind. The resolution has jumped from 320 by 240 to 480 by 320, and it shows. Text is crisp, and for the most part, images are clear.
Unfortunately, the Rise’s design and build quality have taken a hit since the Milano. While the keyboard still springs solidly into place, the Rise is made of cheaper-feeling plastic and has a more generic design overall. With that said, the four capacitive buttons across the front of the device match the Ice Cream Sandwich theme and the typeset used for the keyboard remains as attractive as before.
The Rise has a single core 1GHz CPU, and while this is a step up from the Milano’s 800 MHz, the Milano’s lower screen resolution and older software made it feel much zippier. The Rise functions fine during light usage, but certain apps and heavy multi-tasking can slow the phone down quite easily.
As for the interface, the Rise comes with largely stock Ice Cream Sandwich and only a few Sprint apps. The device features Eco Mode, a battery-saving app which cuts down on the phone’s functions once the battery gets low. Those familiar with the Milano will already be familiar with this app, as it remains unchanged from last year.
Overall, the Kyocera Rise is a solid and affordable handset. It can currently be purchased from Sprint for free with a two-year contract, for $99.99 with a month-to-month Virgin Mobile data plan, or for $163 from Ting with a tiered monthly plan. Pittsburgh residents can expect solid voice and data signal all throughout the region.