Motorola Rival A455 Review

Introduction and Design

Just a few years ago it was a rarity to find a Verizon non-smartphone with an integrated QWERTY keyboard, but as time progressed, more messaging devices have been released, mostly by LG and Samsung.  It has taken a while, but Motorola is now looking to capitalize on this with their Motorola Rival A455.  It is a mid-range device, meant to compete with the enV3 and Alias 2, and comes with a side-sliding QWERTY keyboard, 2MP camera, and partial touch-sensitive display.

Included in the retail package is the Motorola Rival A455 phone, 940mAh battery, wall charge and user manual.


The Motorola Rival A455 is available in two color variations: purple and tin silver.  It is a relatively compact device, not as tall as the enV3 or Alias 2, but slightly thicker.  It is constructed out of plastic throughout, but doesn’t feel as durable or solid as the enV3.  Due to its size and rounded edges, it feels quite comfortable in the hand and isn’t too noticeable when placed in your pants’ pocket.

You can compare the Motorola Rival A455 with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

The front features a 2.2” 176x220 pixel display that supports up to 65K colors.  Not only is the size smaller than the main displays used on the enV3 and Alias 2, but so is the resolution.  These differences are easily visible since images and text are noticeably pixilated.  One unique aspect of the Rival’s display is that it is touch-sensitive, but it’s limited and only used with an on-screen dialpad to call someone.  Because of this, you are still required to use the d-pad for menu navigation, but the left and right softkeys are also touch-sensitive.  Located around the d-pad are the send and end keys, back button, and keypad button.  Each one of these feels stiff and require a bit of pressure to get a response.

Located on the left side of the Rival is the volume rocker, speakerphone button and microUSB port, with the 3.5mm headset jack, lock, voice command and camera buttons on the right side.  The 2MP camera is on the back and removing the battery cover allows you to access the microSDHC slot that accepts up to 8GB memory cards.

Sliding the QWERTY keyboard open is relatively easy, and it moves smoothly thanks to the spring-loaded mechanism.  There are a total of 4 rows of keys, with the first three containing numbers, letters and symbols, and the bottom row containing the center space and special function keys.  You can start a new text message by clicking on the envelope key, and there are other special functions for accessing Mobile IM and inserting facial emotion icons into message.   The keys are black plastic with red backlit letters and white backlit numbers and symbols, but pressing the Fn and Sym keys will change the backlighting of the numbers and symbols to green.  Due to the narrow height of the keyboard and the small size of the keys, we found our thumbs feeling a bit cramped, almost like when using the Alias 2, and we didn’t have as much room as the enV3.  We also would have preferred an extra row at the top containing the numbers and symbols instead of having them on the same keys as the letters.  Given the compact design of the Motorola Rival A455, we can understand why the keyboard is small, which should not be a problem for kids to use, but adults with medium and large size hands will be more comfortable with the enV3 or enV Touch.

Motorola Rival A455 360 Degrees View:

Software and Features:

The main menu of the Motorola Rival A455 doesn’t contain anything out of the ordinary and has categories for media center, messaging, contacts, recent calls, and settings & tools.  Only three themes are included, Urban, White, and Ice Cream, with the last one being the most animated and colorful.  There are also options to change the menu layout between tab, list and grid view, select you own wallpaper, and change the clock format.

The 1000 entry phonebook is also pretty standard as it allows you to enter a person’s name, 5 phone numbers and 2 email addresses, as well as selecting a ringtone and picture for CallerID.  Once a contacted is stored, you can assign them to one of 93 available speed dial locations.

Pictures taken outside during the day by the 2MP camera are slightly below average as images look generally washed-out.   Images taken by the 3MP camera on the enV3 completely blow away the Motorola Rival A455 in every aspect.  Even the 2MP cameras on the Alias 2 and Nokia Intrigue do a better job.  Based upon this, it is not hard to imagine that inside images taken by the Rival look even worse.  Due to the Rival’s below average camera quality, we can’t see anyone using it for more than grabbing quick “on the go” pictures.

One area where the Rival did quite well was with the music playback quality, even though the device still uses the outdated “red” Verizon player.  Music through the rear speaker was nice and loud (even though you have to flip the phone over) and the quality was about equal to that of the enV Touch, despite it not having stereo speakers.  This is a nice improvement over the Motorola Rapture we reviewed last year, which demonstrated poor music quality.  You can also listen to music through a Stereo Bluetooth headset or by connecting wired earbuds to the 3.5mm headset jack, which we always like to see.

Other software features include Mobile Web, VCast Music downloads, VCast Video streaming, and VZ Navigator for GPS guided directions.  You can also download a wide variety of games and other programs using the Media Center.  Applications open fast and there is no noticeable delay when using them.  The web browser is similar to the one used on the Alias 2 and Casio Exilim, as it dissects large web sites into smaller pages that you have to click through.  Even though this is more user friendly than the browsers found on the Motorola Rapture, W755 or V9m, it still can’t rival the HTML browser used by the enV3 or enV Touch, as those maintain the integrity of the page layout.

There is a total of 178MB of internal memory, out of which 46MB is used, leaving 132MB available to the consumer.  This is one of the few areas the Motorola Rival A455 does better than the enV3, which only has 90MB of available memory.  However, the Rival can only accept up to 8GB memory cards where the enV3 and Alias 2 can take up to 16GB memory cards.


The Rival’s reception was quite good, about equal to the LG enV3 and enV Touch, as we had between 2-3 signal bars and never dropped a call while using it around South FL.  Unfortunately, the call quality on both ends was lacking, as it didn’t sound as clear as the LGs or the Motorola Krave and V9m.  This is disappointing; as Motorola is usually know for its good call quality.  Voices sounded a bit distant and there was noticeable distortion in the earpiece and speakerphone if the volume was raised past medium.

The included 940mAh battery is rated by Motorola to provide slightly over 5 hours of talk time on a full charge.  Our testing revealed only 4 hours of continuous talk time on a full charge.


In the end, the Motorola Rival A455 doesn’t really “rival” the competition too much.  Even though it has a nice compact design and features a QWERTY keyboard, other devices do a better job  and come with more features, such as the enV3, enV Touch, and Alias 2.  The only people we can see buying the Rival  are the under-18 crowd, and this is mainly due to the sliding keyboard and different colors that are used in  the phone’s design.

Motorola Rival A455 Video Review:


  • Compact design
  • Teen-friendly colors
  • Good signal reception
  • Music playback quality and 3.5mm headset jack


  • Low resolution display
  • Below average camera quality
  • Call quality not up to par with the competition
  • Keyboard not as large or designed as well as the enV3

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