Design of Nextel Motorola i850
With no rubberized casing, the Motorola i850 is a bit of a departure from the usual Nextel handsets, but the phones bulk and weight wont come as much of a surprise. Measuring 3.5 by 2 by 1.1 inches and tipping the scales at 4.3 ounces, this black and gray mobile is plenty hefty. Additionally, considering its thickness and stubby, retractable antenna, the i850 makes for a tight fit in a jeans pocket.
While the Motorola i850 isnt exactly featherweight, the phones sleek black and gray design has more style than most of the carriers models. The front of the clamshell headset sports a pair of smooth, beveled curves that flank the main, shiny black panel; the tiny camera lens and the self-portrait mirror; and the monochrome external display, which is small at just 96x32 pixels but packs in all the basic info, including the time, the date, signal strength, battery life, caller ID, and the ringer mode. Flip open the phone, however, and youll find the phones stunning 262,000-color, 176x220-pixel internal screen: a vibrant, razor-sharp display that stands in stark contrast with the so-so screens on most Nextel phones. The i850s animated menus are reasonably slick and easy to use, although we were annoyed with having to click More to see additional menu options rather than just scrolling down. Its nothing new for a Nextel phone, but its bothersome nonetheless.
Below the display is the Motorola i850s backlit, silver keypad, which boasts big, flat, and easy-to-press buttons. We like the large, five-way navigational toggle, the dedicated Talk/End buttons, the menu key, and the separate camera button. Additionally, the toggle acts as a shortcut to four user-defined functions. The arrangement is a big improvement upon the cramped navigation controls on other Nextel handsets, with the power button now located below the keypad. Yet, we missed having a dedicated Clear key for correcting dialing and messaging mistakes; instead, you must use a soft key to delete errant characters. Whats worse, when youre in a secondary menu, pressing the same soft key exits you out of the menus completely rather than just going back to the main menu.
On the left side of the Motorola i850, youll find the familiar rubberized button for Nextels signature push-to-talk service, with a pair of volume controls just above it and a rubber flap beneath that protects the 2.5mm headset port. Atop the phone and next to the extendable antenna is a modified speakerphone button; if you get a call while the headset is shut, you can press the button to answer the call using the speakerphone while keeping the phone closed; you hit the nearby End button to hang up or reject the call without answering. If the phone is open when a call comes in, you must press and hold the speakerphone button to answer the call in the corresponding mode. While we enjoyed answering calls with the flip closed, we wish the speakerphone could be on with the phone open before a call comes in.
Features of Nextel Motorola i850
The Motorola i850s camera gets the job done, but its nothing to write home about. The VGA resolution simply cant compete with its increasingly prevalent 1.3- and 2-megapixel competitors, although the snapshots we took looked OK, considering the 640x480-pixel resolution. The camera also lacks an LED flash, a feature weve come to expect in a camera phone. At least you get 4X digital zoom; five resolution settings (640x480, 320x240, 176x220, 160x120, and 128x96); two lighting settings; a choice between Normal and Fine picture quality; and a self-timer with settings between 10 and 20 seconds. Once youre done taking pictures, you can send the images to your friends via e-mail or multimedia messaging, use them as wallpaper, and assign them to your contacts for photo caller ID. Unfortunately, if youre looking for image frames, editing, multishot, or autofocus, you wont find those features on this handset.
Personalization options on the Motorola i850 are quite good. In addition to turning your snapshots into the phones wallpaper or assigning them to individual contacts, you can assign five polyphonic ring tones (MP3 and MIDI) to contacts; change ringer profiles, such as Standard, Car, Meeting, Office, Outdoors, and Headset; choose from one of three color themes, including Geometric, Water Drop, and Glow; tweak the backlighting settings; and change the main menu from Icon to List View. When the phone rings, the keypad buttons flash in accompaniment.
Apps on the Java (J2ME)-equipped phone include a trio of game demos (Zuma, Aces Holdem, and BlockBreaker); 1KTV, an on-demand pseudo-TV service; and TeleNav, a subscription-based navigation service that takes advantage of the i850s GPS support.
Performance of Nextel Motorola i850
The Motorola i850s picture quality was good for a VGA camera phones, with solid color and decent detail, although images looked considerably softer compared with those of the latest 1.3- and 2-megapixel camera phones on the market.
Battery life on the handset was painfully skimpy. Nextel promises a mere 2.75 hours of talk time, but we beat it by a half hour. For standby time, we got 3.5 days in a single charge, compared with the rated 3 days. According to FCC radiation tests, the Motorola i850 has a digital SAR rating of 1.05 watts per kilogram.