The internal display measures 1.75 inches wide and supports 64,000 colors. The difference between it and a 262,000-color display are apparent, but we'll let it pass on the phone. Like on all Nextel phones, the menu system has a multipage design in either list or grid formats. Both designs are relatively easy to use. You can change the backlighting time and the font size.
The navigation array shows a pleasant design. There's a four-way toggle with a central OK button, two soft keys, a menu control, a Web browser shortcut and the Talk and End/power buttons. The arrangement is spacious and the keys are tactile. What's more, the silver toggle stands out against the background. The keypad buttons are sizeable and spaced far apart from either each other. They're also raised above the surface of the phone with large numbers and letters and a bright backlighting. We had no problems when dialing or texting and we like that you can designate various controls to act as shortcuts to your favorite features.
The i576 has a 600-contact phone book with room in each entry for six phone numbers, an e-mail address, an IP address, and a Direct Connect number. You can organize contacts into groups and you can pair contacts and groups with one of 22 polyphonic ringtones. Other features include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, a calendar, a voice recorder, a speakerphone, a notepad, call timers, Bluetooth, voice dialing, and call forwarding.
As a Nextel phone, the i576 offers all of the carrier's Direct Connect PTT services including International Direct Connect, Group Connect (for chatting with up to 20 others via PTT at once), and Direct Talk (for out-of-network PTT-chat capabilities). You'll also find NextMail, which sends voice messages to any e-mail address, and Direct Send, which transmits your contact information to other compatible phones. And finally, there's Nextel's second line service, which lets you add a second line to the phone with a different phone number.
You can personalize the i576 with a variety of wallpaper, themes, and alert sounds. You can download more options and more ringtones with the wireless Web browser. You get a fair choice of Java (J2ME) applications, including a Nascar Sprint Cup game, Alarm Clock Plus, Calculator Suite, and Sprint Mobile e-mail. And thanks to the i576's integrated GPS, you can use TeleNav 3.8, which is a subscription-based navigation service.
We tested the dual-band (iDEN 800/900) i576 in San Francisco using Nextel's service. Call quality was up to the usual Nextel standards. We enjoyed a strong signal with great voice clarity and plenty of volume. The only downside was a slight background hiss, but it wasn't bothersome.
On their end, callers had few complaints. They reported good clarity without any static and said we sounded natural. A few of our callers mentioned the background hiss as well, but it wasn't a big deal for them either. Speakerphone calls were satisfactory as were calls with a Bluetooth headset.
Direct Connect calls were loud and clear. At times we heard a bit of an echo, but it was nothing unusual. Calls between the i576 and i776 connected instantly.