Catering to largely business clientele, Nextel's past handset lineup has consisted mostly of bulky candy bar-style phones with monochrome screens and a basic, albeit solid, design. But as Nextel's Direct Connect Push To Talk (PTT) walkie-talkie service now faces competition from Sprint PCS, Verizon, and Alltel, the carrier is supporting smaller, more stylish Motorola models. While not the company's first handset with a color screen--that was the --the Nextel i730 has a streamlined flip design. At $225, this mobile is somewhat expensive, so convince your employer to flip the bill for this work-oriented model.
Editor's note: We have changed the rating in this review to reflect recent changes in our rating scale. Click here to find out more. Encased in a silver finish with clean lines, the Nextel i730 has a modern look that may appear familiar--it's seen regularly on the television show CSI. Although a bit heavy (5.1 ounces with the standard battery) and large (3.6 by 2.0 by 1.1 inches) for a flip phone, it is on a par with the . Like most mobiles from the carrier, the i730 has a sturdy feel and fits comfortably in the palm of your hand.
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While more stylish than many Nextel models, the i730 is a tad stocky.
The exterior rubberized controls are well placed and easy to use. Next to the one-inch extendable antenna, two keys on the top of the phone respectively activate the speakerphone and select a number for dialing, while a volume key and the button activating the PTT feature are on the left spine. The speaker on the back of the i730 is curiously placed at the bottom, so your hand can easily block it when you're holding the phone. The monochrome external screen shows caller ID (when available), but due to its small rectangular size, it displays only one line of text and is difficult to see from a distance.
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The i730's rear speaker is not in the best location.
The interior seven-line, 65,000-color screen is sufficiently bright and highly readable. While the graphically driven interface is an improvement over those found on previous Nextel models, we still wish it were a bit more refined. For instance, by using the Back key to leave a secondary menu, you're out of all menus entirely.
We had a mixed impression of the i730's blue-backlit keypad. On the plus side: the slightly convex, recessed numeric buttons are easy to press; the dotted, concave 5 key makes it simple to dial by feel; and a four-way controller (with an OK button in the center) and two soft keys give one-touch access to user-definable features. We were distracted, however, by the crowded arrangement of the navigation buttons, which makes the phone seem overly complicated. The i730's phone book can hold up to seven phone numbers for each of the 600 contacts--handy, as each Nextel user needs two phone numbers for regular and nationwide (except in Alaska and Montana) PTT calls. The phone comes with 12 monophonic and 3 polyphonic ring tones as well as a vibrate mode, and more can be downloaded from Nextel's Web site. The mobile can be further personalized with different wallpapers, colors, and sounds. Among the i730's other features are an OpenWave WAP 2.0 wireless Web browser; a date book; a voice recorder; a speakerphone; AOL e-mail and instant messaging; USB connectivity; English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese menus; speed dialing; and voice-activated dialing. Nextel also offers a variety of POP3, AOL Instant Messenger, and Microsoft Exchange-compatible mobile e-mail options (with syncing) upon activation of a Nextel Online package, which will run you from $10 to $15 per month.
Of particular note is the Java (J2ME) support that powers a variety of integrated and downloadable applications. Already included are a calculator; the GPS-powered, location-based TeleNav 2.2 utility; and the Bejeweled, Fox Football, and Zip Xavier game demos. You can download additional apps and full versions of games from Nextel's Web site to the phone's 3MB of dedicated memory.
It's worth mentioning that Nextel includes a free online account that you can use to house calendar and address-book information. You can import an Outlook database but not sync with it, and you can store up to 500 contacts online, 250 of which can be wirelessly stored in the phone through the Nextel network. We tested the single-band (iDEN 800MHz) i730 in the New York City area using Nextel's service and were generally pleased. Sound quality, even when we were walking down a noisy city street, was good. You can answer calls on the i730 with the flip open or closed, but since the unit's rear-mounted speaker faces away from the listener, your choice will affect call clarity.
Battery life was average, so make sure you're never far from the included compact travel charger. We managed 4.5 days of standby time, besting the company's claim of just more than 3 days. Talk time came to 5.6 hours, also topping the rated 3.3 hours. Those numbers are quite an improvement over the figures we achieved with the .