The 2-megapixel camera takes photos in seven resolutions, from 1,200x1,600 pixels down to 160x120 pixels. Other editing options include two quality settings, exposure control, white balance, a 4x digital zoom, a self-timer, GPS tagging, a macro mode, an autofocus, four color tones, and two shutter sounds (there's no silent option). Though relatively bright, the flash is really more of a spotlight--it stays lit the entire time you're in the camera application and it doesn't have an auto setting. Photo quality is just average. Even in good lighting our shots were a bit dim with faded colors and some image noise.
The camcorder shoots clips in three resolutions and it offers a similar set of editing options. Clips meant for multimedia messages are capped at 1 minute, but you can shoot for longer in normal mode. Moving clips and shots off the phone is relatively easy using the normal wireless methods, a memory card, and a USB cable. The Brute has a healthy 180MB of internal memory and the microSD slot can accommodate cards up to 8GB.
The music player has a simple interface on both displays. It supports album art and you can choose between a number of themes and visualizations. Features are pretty slim: you get shuffle and repeat modes and an equalizer with nine settings. Getting music on the phone is easy through either a USB cable, Bluetooth, or a memory card.
You can personalize the Brute with a variety of clock styles, color themes, and wallpaper; you can also download more options and additional ringtones with the WAP 2.0 browser. You get one game--Family Guy Uncensored (we were surprised at that, too)--and you can download additional Java titles. Racing fans also can take advantage Sprint's Nascar Cup Mobile app.
We tested the Motorola Brute i680 (iDEN 800) in San Francisco using Nextel service. Call quality was admirable on the whole. The audio was clear, the volume was strong, and our callers sounded natural. There was a slight background hiss at time, but it was barely noticeable and did not distract from our experience. Nextel phones offer reliable reception and the Brute was no exception.
Our callers were satisfied as well. They also commented on the clarity and volume and didn't have trouble hearing us even if we were calling from a loud place. They could tell we were using a cell phone, which is common, but they didn't mention the background hiss that we heard. Calls from the speakerphone were high quality and had plenty of volume. We also were pleased with calls made with a Bluetooth headset.
We tried the Brute's Direct Connection with another i680. Calls had a bit of audio distortion, but it wasn't bothersome. And like most Direct Connect calls, we could hear very well even when we were in a loud place.