The Rugged Smartphone: Nextel i930 by Motorola

By Kris Kumar on Tuesday, January 17, 2006

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The Smartphone As A Phone
The primary function of the Smartphone is to work as a phone. The i930 has very good ear-piece and speakerphone sound volume. The speakerphone is LOUD. As mentioned earlier, I enjoyed carrying out conversations over the speakerphone in my car while driving in the rain. Since Nextel phones are meant to be used as Walkie-Talkie devices, the speakerphone does it job very well. The ability to initiate calls without opening the flip and if you have to, the flip open button helps you in single-handed operation. I am not familiar with the Nextel coverage, but at home and work, I got 3-4 bars. And the voice quality was good. I never had a dropped call. The extendable antenna also helps if needed. The Smartphone is very reliable. Except for the battery, the i930 performed very well as a phone first device.

Another improvement worth mentioning is the call history log. Motorola has customized and improved the log. One of my biggest complaints with the Windows Mobile call history log is that I have to scroll down to see when the call was received. Motorola has taken care of this problem in the i930.

Figure 44: Check out the call history log and the details. Motorola has fixed the details screen to show the time of the call without the need for scrolling. Cool

I didn't try out the Walkie-Talkie feature, because I don't have any friends on the Nextel network. The one Walkie-Talkie related feature that this unit lacks is the Direct Talk, the off-network Walkie-Talkie feature. Given the size of the unit, I was surprised that Motorola couldn't squeeze the radio for the off-network direct device-to-device communications.

The data network speed on Sprint-Nextel's iDEN network is comparable to the GSM/GPRS speeds (20-40Kbps). It works okay for checking emails and occasional surfing.

The i930 is called the world-traveler because it has dual network support, Nextel's iDEN and GSM. According to Nextel you can stay connected in over 100 countries with the Nextel Worldwide service. Maintain one phone and one number.

As mentioned earlier, the wired headset is not a standard accessory. And this Smartphone does not have Bluetooth. Nextel does offer a Bluetooth headset adapter as an accessory for the i930.

Now that you have read through the complete review, you must have noticed that I have had mostly positive things to say about this Motorola Smartphone. Personally I think that Motorola has done an excellent job in customizing the Windows Mobile operating system to meet the unique requirements put in place by the folks at Sprint-Nextel. It also explains why Motorola took such a long time to release this Smartphone and is probably the reason why it is running an older Windows Mobile operating system.

The i930 works without fail, all it needs is frequent charging. As a business phone, the GSM network support for roaming, single handed operations using the external screen, built-in GPS, the rugged design and Windows Mobile operating system, makes it one of the best choices. As a Smartphone the i930 fills the void in the Nextel product lineup. There are drawbacks, however, the biggest being the application lock, the older operating system and lack of Bluetooth.

Because of these drawbacks, Smartphone enthusiasts who want to own the latest and the greatest won't necessarily choose the i930. But this Smartphone is aimed at a specific audience - existing Nextel customers or those that have unique business requirements, like a Walkie-Talkie, that are fulfilled by the Nextel network. For those folks this is what I have to say - you can't go wrong with the Nextel i930 by Motorola.

Kris Kumar is a software engineer with expertise in Microsoft technologies and developer tools. He lives with his wife in Rochester, New York, USA.

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