I haven't seen the no rewards as the couple of online races I did got a few thousand bucks a pop. I got first in one for a little more than 5,000CR but the average seems to be between 3,000 and 4,000. No RR buck payouts but the CR seems to scale depending on how many real dudes are racing versus the AI.
I'll keep checking over the weekend to see what's up. Maybe I'm lucky and it works or maybe it was a server disconnect as I have noticed that when the network is interrupted it doesn't dump you back to the main menu. You keep racing but the non-AI racers disappear. As a note I'm on an iPhone 5 in case that makes a difference.
As for the best RR handheld game, this is the best one currently available. RR3D for the 3DS has a weird handling model that doesn't feel quite right and the Vita one, while functionally fine has less content than this game which is baffling. Ridge Racers 2 never released in the States where I'm at but I did play it by other means (I imported it). Great game and totally complete but it is a PSP title with no new cars in it. I think the difference was a couple of extra tracks and songs. The car list I believe was the same as US release, Ridge Racer for the PSP which is also available on the Vita.
While I still like the PSP versions and think they are great iterations of the series as they contain a little bit from every previous release, Slipstream is a current release that I can take anywhere. It has the cars I prefer from RR7 and RRVita (I love both the SYNQi and RC410) and the game is still Ridge Racer but on my iPhone. I don't have to charge my Vita or try to locate my PSP in a box somewhere. Slipstream plays well and the multiplayer, while not perfect, is totally functional. The pay model is really the only negative and again, not a complete deal breaker if you buy the car style that you prefer to drive but it does hurt variety in the long run.