As with all Android phones, you get a very healthy relationship with Google-related applications right off the bat. The phone has apps for Gmail, Google Talk, Google Maps, and YouTube. We also had no problems running and accessing other e-mail accounts, and syncing up our Microsoft Exchange server was a snap as well. Non-Gmail e-mails are accessible via a universal in-box and all appointments are integrated into a single calendar.
Interestingly, the i1's default Web browser is not Android's WebKit browser, but Opera Mini 5. We suspect this has to do with iDEN's relatively slow network, as Opera is better equipped to handle slower speeds. As you'll find in our performance section, this definitely does the trick, as we're able to load web pages relatively quickly. You also have the option to switch over to the Google WebKit browser by going into Browser Settings and deselecting "Load Web with Opera." We warn you that the browsing experience may be slower with the WebKit browser, though, so you might want to save that for when you're on Wi-Fi.
Other features of the phone include the usual PIM functionality of storing contacts, voice search, a calendar, an alarm clock, a voice recorder, and more. You also get Wi-Fi, the Android Market, the Amazon MP3 Store, GPS, and Bluetooth. Of course, you also get the push-to-talk functionality, which has its own Walkie-Talkie contacts list and call log interface. You can integrate them into the regular phone's contact list as well.
We were hoping for better picture quality with a 5.0-megapixel camera lens. While images seemed sharp and clean of artifacts, the color seemed dim and muted, with a touch of grayish green.
We tested the Motorola i1 in San Francisco using Boost Mobile and its call quality was really good for the most part. We heard our callers very clearly, and we enjoyed natural voice quality as well. The volume was nice and loud, which was especially true in speakerphone mode.
On their end, our callers said we sounded good with very little background noise. The voice quality was not quite so natural though, they said we sounded rather fuzzy and strained at times. Still, volume was good enough and we carried on a conversation swimmingly well. They said they too heard us very loud and clear with the speakerphone.
We were prepared for slow speeds on the iDEN network, but we were surprised to learn it wasn't as bad as we thought it would be. Loading the BBC Web page took around 29 seconds on Opera Mini, while the mobile CNET page took merely 12 seconds. However, loading YouTube clips put quite a strain on the phone's data connection, it took quite a while to buffer the video, and the video quality was rather choppy. However, its sound quality was decent.
The i1 has a 600MHz ARM11 Freescale processor, which we found speedy enough for our needs. The phone opened and closed applications quickly, but the accelerometer can take a few seconds to kick in. The camera activated in mere seconds after pressing the button.
The Motorola i1 has a 1,400mAH lithium battery with a rated battery life of 3.5 hours talk time and 4.17 days standby time. Unfortunately, the i1 only had a tested talk time of 3 hours. According to FCC radiation tests, the i1 has a digital SAR of 0.81 watt per kilogram.