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Motorola Buzz ic502 (Sprint) review: Motorola Buzz ic502 (Sprint)

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Stereo speakers sit just below the ic502's keypad.

Due to the aforementioned interface change, the ic502's features appear somewhat differently than they did on previous Nextel phones. The 900-contact phone book is bigger than most Nextel phones and has room in each entry for five phone numbers, a Direct Connect number, e-mail and Web addresses, notes, and a reminder date (as in a birthday). You can save callers to a variety of groups for voice or PTT calls and pair them with one of 14 polyphonic tones. You also can assign them a picture, but images won't show up on the external display, and since the ic502 doesn't support multimedia messaging there's really no point. Other features are sharply limited. You'll find only a vibrate mode, text messaging, a speakerphone, a voice recorder, an alarm clock, a calendar and a world clock. There's no Bluetooth though there really should be.

Things are strong on the PTT side, however. The ic502 supports Nextel's Direct Connect walkie-talkie service (including Group Connect, which lets you chat with up to 20 others at once, via PTT) and Direct Talk, which allows out-of-network walkie-talkie chat with another Direct Talk handset at a range of up to six miles. A newer feature is Direct Send, which sends PTT contact information to compatible Nextel phones.

You can personalize the ic502 with a selection of screen savers, clock styles, menu layouts, and greeting messages, downloaded from Sprint via the WAP 2.0 wireless Web browser. Data runs on the carrier's 1xRTT network so speeds are sluggish; we were hoping for 3G EV-DO speeds at least. We also were disappointed that the ic502 doesn't come integrated with many of Nextel's e-mail applications or its popular Java offerings like 1KTV and TeleNav. The handset did come with a trial edition of Weathernews, but since it uses Sprint's PCS Vision Internet service, you're offered a different set of downloadable applications than if you were on Nextel's Web browser.

We tested the dual-mode (iDEN 800; CDMA 1900) Motorola ic502 in San Francisco. Voice calls on the Sprint network were clearly audible with enough volume. Voices sounded natural and callers said they could hear us plainly. There was a slight background hiss at times, but we were pleased with calls overall. Speakerphone calls also were satisfactory, and we had no problems hearing others. We also made PTT calls to our Motorola i880; the audio was loud and clear on both ends, and we had no connection problems.

The Motorola ic502 has a rated talk-time battery life of 3.3 hours and a tested talk time of 3 hours and 30 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the ic502 has a digital SAR rating of 1.24 watts per kilogram.

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