Like other Nextel phones, the i890 offers the usual assortment of 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 Direct Send, which transmits your contact information to other compatible phones.
We had hoped the i890 would have more than a 2-megapixel camera. It takes pictures in six resolutions and two quality settings. Its other shooter options include a digital zoom, a self-timer, geotagging, four color tones, exposure controls, and five white balance settings. The camcorder shoots clips in three resolutions with sound. You don't get additional editing options, but can set the length of the video. The phone caps video meant for multimedia messages at 60 seconds, but you can shoot for longer in standard mode.
The i890's photo quality is just average. Most of our photos taken with it were blurry and its colors were dull. Since there's no flash, you'll need to make sure that you have enough light. After capturing your work, you can save transfer shots and videos off the phone or you can save them to the i890's 180MB of user-accessible memory; that's not a lot, so we suggest using a microSD card for more room; the handset will accommodate cards up to 8GB.
The handset also offers a selection of Java-based applications with the option to buy more. You'll find access to Sprint's Nascar Mobile and NFL Live, access to Telenav's GPS service, and a calculator suite, which includes a currency converter, a standard calculator, a metric converter, and a tool for determining interest and loan payments.
We tested the (iDEN 800) Motorola i890 in San Francisco using Nextel service. Its call quality was quite satisfactory and had good clarity and a strong signal. The phone's volume was loud and callers sounded natural. We had no trouble hearing or understanding conversations when were in noisy places, though we heard a bit of feedback when it was windy. We didn't have any problems speaking to an automated calling system. The i890 is compatible with M3 and T4 hearing aids.
Callers also reported good conditions. Some couldn't tell that we were using a cell phone, but even our friends that did know we were calling from the i890 complained little. However, they could hear despite a lot of background noise on our end. A couple of people said we sounded a tad raspy, but they were in the minority. Speakerphone calls were loud and relatively clear, and we had a good experience with a Bluetooth headset.
Direct Connect calls sounded fine as well. There was a bit of static on the line, but not enough to be distracting. Callers reported similar conditions on the other end.
The i890 has a rated battery life of three hours talk time. We were a little disappointed with the talk times of 2 hours and 12 minutes in our tests. According to FCC radiation, tests the i890 has a digital SAR of 0.45 watt per kilogram.