The Rugged Smartphone: Nextel i930 by Motorola

By Kris Kumar on Tuesday, January 17, 2006

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Figure 9: The back of the i930. The shiny black surface is a smudge-magnet. Sad I found myself cleaning the back of the i930 quite often.

Figure 10: The metal grill on the back adds an industrial design touch to the Smartphone.

This Smartphone is not about looks. It is all about functionality. Behind the metal grill is a powerful speakerphone, the loudest one I have ever heard.

Figure 11: Unlike a certain other Smartphone on the market, this one has a traditional antenna, instead of a hump. Laughing

During my usage, I never had to extend the antenna to improve the quality of a call. The Smartphone seems to have excellent reception. The antenna also helps to improve the GPS sensor's reception. And while indoors, extending the antenna helped me get GPS coordinates.

Figure 12: The right side of the i930.

The right side has a slot for an SD card. Yes, a full-sized SD card slot. And it's accessible from outside. This feature, along with the Windows Media player on the i930, makes it a very good music phone. The SD card slot has a nice metal cover to protect it from dust. The IR port is on the right side of the Smartphone. The SIM card is also inserted from the outside. This is the first time I have seen a phone that allows the SIM card to be inserted externally. But to remove it, you still have to take the battery out to remove the card. Not sure why it was designed this way, or if all Nextel phones have this design.

Figure 13: The left side.

Notice the metal trim that runs along the side of this Smartphone. It adds an industrial and rugged design touch. The left side has the volume button at the top and the big Walkie-Talkie button in the middle, which is mandatory on Nextel phones. Towards the bottom part of the i930 is the stereo headset socket, protected by a nice rubber cover. The rubber has a good feel to it and looks like it can stand a lot of abuse.

Figure 14: The bottom part of the i930.

The base of the unit has a single connector protected by a very badly designed rubber cover. It's flimsy, and very tricky to open and close. The connector looks similar to the Motorola MPx220, but they both are slightly different. As mentioned earlier, to sync the data, you will have to use the cradle.

Figure 15: The top side of the i930.

The top has two buttons, the one on the left with a square dot in the photograph, is called the smart-key. And the one on the right with the speaker symbol turns the speakerphone on or off. These two buttons are also used to control the external display. This will be covered in detail in the following section.

Figure 16: Do you know what a "flip open" button is?

Notice the green glowing ring on the metallic center of the hinge. Well the ring flashes a green light every second to indicate network connectivity. And that portion of the hinge can be pressed to quickly and automatically open the flip phone. This is one of the coolest features I've seen yet. Reminded me of Star Trek...

Motorola did a good of designing this Smartphone for single-handed operation. The flip open button on the hinge, the two buttons on the top and the practical external screen all contribute to single-handed operation. I had lots of fun showing off the flip open feature of this Smartphone to my colleagues and friends. I think all flip phones should have it.

Since the i930 has an mechanical flip opening system, the hinge feels a bit loose when you open the flip manually. It's pretty sturdy, however, and I am sure it can withstand a lot of abuse. This could also have been a problem with the review unit. The good thing is that the spring inside the hinge enables a snap action during the opening and closing of the flip.

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