We weren't big fans of the navigation array and keypad buttons. All controls are covered in a cheap-feeling plastic material, which doesn't make them very tactile. What's more, the navigation buttons are rather squashed together and all keys are flat with the surface of the phone, which makes it difficult to dial by feel. There's a four-way toggle with a central OK button, two soft keys, a dedicated menu control, and the Talk and End/power keys. There's also a Web browser shortcut, and you can program the toggle to give one-touch access to four user-defined functions. The i425 also offers a dedicated speakerphone control below the keypad buttons. Though usually we approve of such a button, it's not in the best position. The backlighting in the keys is fine, though the Talk and End buttons are difficult to see in the dark.
The only remaining controls are a volume rocker and the PTT button on the left spine. Below them are a covered headset jack and a mini-USB/charger port. The side controls are well designed, and we had no problems finding them when during a conversation.
As it's designed primarily to make calls, the i425 doesn't offer much in the features department. There's a 600-contact phone book with room in each entry for eight phone numbers (including a PTT number), an e-mail address, and an IP address. The i425 doesn't offer photo caller ID but you can pair contacts with one of 20 polyphonic ringtones (including one called "MySpace Freak"--whatever). Oh, and you can save your friends to groups.
Basic offerings include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, instant messaging, call timers, a memo pad, a speakerphone, a voice recorder, and a calendar. Voice dialing was an unexpected, but welcome addition, and the i425 is GPS-enabled.
You can personalize the i425 with a variety of wallpaper and color themes. You can download more options with the WAP Internet browser. A number of games and applications are at your disposal including BoostTV, Party Night Pimp, Hookt, World Series of Poker, and Hip Hop Immortal. You can buy more titles if you wish.
We tested the Motorola i425 in San Francisco. As an MVNO, Boost Mobile uses Nextel's network. Call quality was respectable for the most part. The volume level was quite loud and voices sounded natural. There was a slight echoed effect in some calls that made our friends sound as if they were far away. The echo wasn't annoying and it was only occasional. On their end, callers said we sounded fine and they didn't report any significant problems. Similarly, automated calling systems could understand us, even when we were outside. Speakerphone calls were fine, but we had to speak close to the phone to be heard.
The i425 has a rated battery life of 2.83 hours talk time and five days standby time. Our tests reveal a talk time of 3 hours and 2 minutes. According to the FCC, the i425 has a digital digital SAR rating of 1.35 watts per kilogram.