When Sprint and Nextel launched its first PowerSource phone, the Motorola ic502, late last year, it was a sign the two companies have finally unified. The ic502 was the first dual-mode CDMA-iDEN cell phone--it uses Sprint for voice and Nextel for Direct Connect Push-to-Talk connections. Unfortunately, its limited feature set (like the lack of Bluetooth and EV-DO) just didn't impress us too much, and we were ultimately disappointed with the device.
The Motorola Deluxe ic902, however, is a different matter entirely. It's the first PowerSource phone to have Sprint's EV-DO data plan in the package. That means the ic902 has access to Sprint's multimedia Power Vision network, which includes the Sprint Music Store, Sprint TV, On Demand information channels, and more. It also packs in a hefty multimedia punch with a 2.0-megapixel camera, an MP3 player, and a microSD card slot. Of course, it also features Nextel's rock-solid PTT offerings and GPS as well. Despite a rather dull design, the Motorola Deluxe ic902 truly combines the best of both Sprint and Nextel in a single package. You'll pay for such a full-featured phone, though--it's $489.99 at retail and $299.99 with service.
As is common with most Nextel phones, the Motorola Deluxe ic902 is certainly not a design-centric device. Coated in a gun-metal gray, the ic902 has a very clunky and rugged exterior that just doesn't seem very appealing. It's rather bulky at 3.8 inches high by 2 inches wide by 0.9 inch deep, plus its 4.8 ounces will probably weigh you down quite a bit. Not too many Nextel phones have color external displays, so we were very pleased that the 1.25-inch one on the ic902 supports 262,000 colors. It manages to fit in all the basics such as date, time, battery life, signal strength, and caller ID. It also displays photo caller ID, music player tracks, and acts as a camera viewfinder.
Sitting above the external display is the camera lens with flash, while a microSD card slot sits to the upper left side of the top flap. As for the bottom flap, its left spine is home to the volume rocker, a PTT button, and the headset jack. On the right side, there are the music player controls and dedicated camera button on the top flap, and a charger jack on the bottom. Sitting on the upper right corner of the phone is a Quick Release button that doubles as a status light. Pressing this button opens up the phone immediately. On top of the Deluxe ic902 is a dedicated Speaker key, plus a Smart key that can do a variety of things: It ends a phone or walkie-talkie call, forwards an incoming call to voice mail, dismisses Call Alert, and accesses Call History when the phone is closed. Rounding out the phone's exterior is a stubby extendable antenna.
Flip open the phone and you'll see a lovely 262,000-color, 2.2-inch diagonal internal display. The menu interface is typically Sprint, but it also has cute and colorful icons that show off the bright display and its good resolution (240x320 pixels). You can adjust the screen's backlight timer, but not the brightness nor the font size. Underneath the display are the two soft keys, a four-way toggle that double as four user-defined shortcuts, a middle Menu/OK key, a dedicated camera key, a back key, and the Talk and End/Power keys. A neat thing is a tiny little keypad sensor above the right soft key that detects surrounding ambient light and adjusts the keypad backlight accordingly. All these keys plus the ones on the alphanumeric keypad are tactile, large, and easy to dial by feel. Underneath the keypad are the two stereo speakers.
In addition to support for Nextel's walkie-talkie features, the Motorola Deluxe ic902 is a full-featured multimedia device with plenty of support for Sprint services as well. But first the basics: the Deluxe ic902 comes with a generous 1,000-entry phone book, with room in each entry for five numbers, a walkie-talkie number, an e-mail address, a Web address, a birthdate, a job title and company name, and a memo. They can also be grouped into categories, assigned a picture for caller ID, plus one of 19 polyphonic ringtones. You can even assign a video ringer so that a small video will play whenever there's an incoming call from that person. Other features include a speakerphone, a vibrate mode, a calendar, an alarm clock, a file manager, a calculator, a tip calculator, a world clock, a stop watch, a currency converter, a unit converter, and a notepad. On the higher end, there's GPS, a wireless Web browser, text and multimedia messaging, instant messaging, e-mail, voice dialing, voice recording, plus a SIM manager that helps you manage your contacts. The Deluxe ic902 supports the Bluetooth headset profile in addition to letting you transfer files via Bluetooth. It can also be used as a modem via Bluetooth.
Of course, as a Nextel phone, the PTT offerings are pretty solid. The ic902 supports Nextel's Direct Connect walkie-talkie service, which includes Group Connect that lets you talk up to 20 other people at once. There's also Direct Talk, which allows out-of-network walkie-talkie chats with another Direct Talk phone of up to six miles. The latter feature is great for emergencies, network outage, or when you're in the great outdoors away from civilization.