The Rugged Smartphone: Nextel i930 by Motorola

By Kris Kumar on Tuesday, January 17, 2006

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Software Makes The Smartphone Smart
Until now I have mostly been appreciative of Motorola's design efforts and the i930 features. But now it is time to complain about a feature, rather a restriction policy that affects the usability of this Smartphone. The i930 is application locked. Only the applications signed and certified by Nextel or Microsoft M2M (Mobile to Market) will work on this Smartphone. I got my first shock when I tried to install SOTI's Pocket Controller, which failed because it was not digitally signed.

Figure 33: This free application called the Software Shop can be found on the Handango's Nextel site. It enables you to browse through the list of certified applications for the i930, and purchase them if you choose. Given the application lock restriction, this program does make life a bit simpler.

Figure 34: The About screen.

Figure 35: The Home screen.

I like the cab yellow home screen. Another subtle customization that makes the i930 easy to use, is the display of the highlighted application name under the most recently used applications icon bar.

Since the i930 uses the Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition as its operating system, the unit comes loaded with applications that are standard to any Windows Mobile based Smartphone. For the sake of readers who are not familiar with Windows Mobile, I would like to highlight some of the applications:

Pocket Outlook Inbox: enables you to receive and send POP3/IMAP and Exchange E-Mails;
Pocket Contacts: address book to store phone numbers, email addresses, and postal addresses. It can be synchronized with the desktop Microsoft Outlook or Exchange server;
Pocket Outlook Tasks and Calendar: enables you to sync calendar and tasks information with the desktop Microsoft Outlook or Exchange server;
Windows Media Player: for listening to music and watching videos. With the full-sized, externally accessible SD card slot, this device is a very capable music phone;
Pocket Internet Explorer: for all your web surfing needs;
ActiveSync: enables synchronizing of Outlook data (email/calendar/tasks) with the desktop.

I am also including the Start menu application list.

Figure 36: The Start menu list.

Figure 37: The Start menu list continued. My-Cast Weather is another subscription based application.

Figure 38: The Accessories menu. I could not figure out the use of the Accessory Support application. The GPS Location application was mentioned earlier in the review.

Figure 39: The Settings menu list.

Figure 40: The Settings menu list continued.

I noticed quite a few customizations in the Settings menu - customization options that are not available on other Smartphones.

Figure 41: The contrast of the external and internal screens is configurable. I wish Motorola had provided this feature on the MPx220.

Figure 42: Check out the link for Reset Phone in the Security Settings menu. When you click on it you will see the screenshot on the right, which basically asks you to call customer service. Confused

Figure 43: The camera application is basic. The picture modes (Auto, Daylight, Night, etc.) cannot be selected directly from the menu.

There is not much to write about the VGA (640x480) resolution camera built into this Smartphone. I'm surprised that Motorola didn't upgrade the sensor to 1 megapixel, which is now common. Click here to check out a sample photo taken indoors. The camera has flash, which is effective in close-up shots, but then the sensor itself is not worth it.

The camcorder or the video recording functionality is even worse. I didn't think it was worth it to post a sample in this review. The video recording application limits the video recordings to 15 seconds.

As far as the bundled applications are concerned, the i930 includes a bunch of Java based GPS applications. Unfortunately they are all subscription only. The i930 also includes the ClearVue file viewers so you can view email attachments and documents like Microsoft Word, Excel, images, etc.

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