The Rugged Smartphone: Nextel i930 by Motorola

By Kris Kumar on Tuesday, January 17, 2006

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The External Screen - More Than Just A Clock
Motorola has put a lot of effort into the external screen design. You will never miss a voicemail or email indicator on this screen. Not only is it large and readable, it is more than just a clock and status indicator screen. To enable single-handed operations and some of the key functions, Motorola engineers have enabled the user to make calls using the external screen, without opening the flip. Users can also switch between the already running Java apps using the external screen.

Figure 24: This is how the external screen usually looks.

The contrast on the external screen are adjustable, as is the background wallpaper. The clock is readable as are the status indicators.

Figure 25: The call log on the external display.

When the flip is closed, the two buttons on the top of the Smartphone act as the soft-keys for the external screen menus. Press the smart-key (the button on the top with the square dot, figure 15) and you are presented with the call log. Using the volume button on the left, you can scroll through the list, and press the Walkie-Talkie button on the left, if it's a PTT number or use the button on the top with the speaker symbol (figure 15), to call the person. I would have preferred a single button to place both the PTT and regular voice-call, but overall it's not a bad design. One thing I must mention is that the call log on the external display only shows the recently called numbers, the missed calls and the incoming calls. It does not let you access your Pocket Outlook contacts. I think it's an intelligent design. Most often, I want to call someone whose call I've missed or whom I had called recently, and if I can do it using the external display and with one hand, it makes the action much more efficient. Then you're free to use the other hand to do important work, like holding a coffee cup. Kudos to Motorola's design engineers for having pulled this off. I would like to see this feature in future flip Smartphones.

Figure 26: The call log and currently running Java application list on the external screen.

The design team did not stop at the call log. They enabled the user to activate an already running Java application. Using the smart-key at the top, if you press it once, it shows the call log. If you press it again, then it shows the active Java program list (if any applications are running). Again using the volume keys you can highlight the application and press the PTT speaker button at the top to activate the running program.

Once you select and activate a Java application, what can you do? Well check out the next section of this review! I'll tell you about some of the Java-based GPS applications that take over the external screen when the flip is closed to show important information on the external screen.

Figure 27: Miscellaneous screen shots of the external screen.

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