When Sprint and Nextel launched its first PowerSource phone, the Motorola ic502, late last year, it was a sign the two companies have finally unified. The ic502 was the first dual-mode CDMA-iDEN cell phone--it uses Sprint for voice and Nextel for Direct Connect Push-to-Talk connections. Unfortunately, its limited feature set (like the lack of Bluetooth and EV-DO) just didn't impress us too much, and we were ultimately disappointed with the device.
The Motorola Deluxe ic902, however, is a different matter entirely. It's the first PowerSource phone to have Sprint's EV-DO data plan in the package. That means the ic902 has access to Sprint's multimedia Power Vision network, which includes the Sprint Music Store, Sprint TV, On Demand information channels, and more. It also packs in a hefty multimedia punch with a 2.0-megapixel camera, an MP3 player, and a microSD card slot. Of course, it also features Nextel's rock-solid PTT offerings and GPS as well. Despite a rather dull design, the Motorola Deluxe ic902 truly combines the best of both Sprint and Nextel in a single package. You'll pay for such a full-featured phone, though--it's $489.99 at retail and $299.99 with service.
As is common with most Nextel phones, the Motorola Deluxe ic902 is certainly not a design-centric device. Coated in a gun-metal gray, the ic902 has a very clunky and rugged exterior that just doesn't seem very appealing. It's rather bulky at 3.8 inches high by 2 inches wide by 0.9 inch deep, plus its 4.8 ounces will probably weigh you down quite a bit. Not too many Nextel phones have color external displays, so we were very pleased that the 1.25-inch one on the ic902 supports 262,000 colors. It manages to fit in all the basics such as date, time, battery life, signal strength, and caller ID. It also displays photo caller ID, music player tracks, and acts as a camera viewfinder.
Sitting above the external display is the camera lens with flash, while a microSD card slot sits to the upper left side of the top flap. As for the bottom flap, its left spine is home to the volume rocker, a PTT button, and the headset jack. On the right side, there are the music player controls and dedicated camera button on the top flap, and a charger jack on the bottom. Sitting on the upper right corner of the phone is a Quick Release button that doubles as a status light. Pressing this button opens up the phone immediately. On top of the Deluxe ic902 is a dedicated Speaker key, plus a Smart key that can do a variety of things: It ends a phone or walkie-talkie call, forwards an incoming call to voice mail, dismisses Call Alert, and accesses Call History when the phone is closed. Rounding out the phone's exterior is a stubby extendable antenna.
Flip open the phone and you'll see a lovely 262,000-color, 2.2-inch diagonal internal display. The menu interface is typically Sprint, but it also has cute and colorful icons that show off the bright display and its good resolution (240x320 pixels). You can adjust the screen's backlight timer, but not the brightness nor the font size. Underneath the display are the two soft keys, a four-way toggle that double as four user-defined shortcuts, a middle Menu/OK key, a dedicated camera key, a back key, and the Talk and End/Power keys. A neat thing is a tiny little keypad sensor above the right soft key that detects surrounding ambient light and adjusts the keypad backlight accordingly. All these keys plus the ones on the alphanumeric keypad are tactile, large, and easy to dial by feel. Underneath the keypad are the two stereo speakers.
In addition to support for Nextel's walkie-talkie features, the Motorola Deluxe ic902 is a full-featured multimedia device with plenty of support for Sprint services as well. But first the basics: the Deluxe ic902 comes with a generous 1,000-entry phone book, with room in each entry for five numbers, a walkie-talkie number, an e-mail address, a Web address, a birthdate, a job title and company name, and a memo. They can also be grouped into categories, assigned a picture for caller ID, plus one of 19 polyphonic ringtones. You can even assign a video ringer so that a small video will play whenever there's an incoming call from that person. Other features include a speakerphone, a vibrate mode, a calendar, an alarm clock, a file manager, a calculator, a tip calculator, a world clock, a stop watch, a currency converter, a unit converter, and a notepad. On the higher end, there's GPS, a wireless Web browser, text and multimedia messaging, instant messaging, e-mail, voice dialing, voice recording, plus a SIM manager that helps you manage your contacts. The Deluxe ic902 supports the Bluetooth headset profile in addition to letting you transfer files via Bluetooth. It can also be used as a modem via Bluetooth.
Of course, as a Nextel phone, the PTT offerings are pretty solid. The ic902 supports Nextel's Direct Connect walkie-talkie service, which includes Group Connect that lets you talk up to 20 other people at once. There's also Direct Talk, which allows out-of-network walkie-talkie chats with another Direct Talk phone of up to six miles. The latter feature is great for emergencies, network outage, or when you're in the great outdoors away from civilization.
Onward to the Deluxe ic902's multimedia features. The ic902 has a pretty decent music player, which is comparable to the one on the LG Muziq. It's closely tied to the Sprint Music Store, and you can simultaneously download songs to the PC and wirelessly to the phone. If you want, you can also sideload songs into the phone from your PC using the included USB cable. Songs can be categorized by title, artist, and genres, plus you can create your own playlist. You can put songs on repeat as well as shuffle. Even though the ic902's headset jack doesn't support regular headphones, it does come with a wired headset for listening to music and answering calls.
Thanks to the ic902's EV-DO support, it also has full access to Sprint's PowerVision data network. That means it has access to Sprint TV, which offers movie trailers and programming from channels such as MTV and Cartoon Network, and Sprint Movies, which delivers pay-per-view movies to your cell phone. There's also a cool service called Sprint On Demand that provides instant information about news, stocks, sports, weather updates, and more.
The 2.0-megapixel camera on the Motorola Deluxe ic902 can take pictures in five resolutions (1600x1200, 1280x960, 640x480, 320x240, and 160x120) and three image quality levels. Other camera options include a brightness setting, white balance settings, a self timer, color effects, fun frames, multiple shots, and six shutter sounds. The camcorder mode records clips in two lengths: 30 seconds for video mail, and for as long as there's available memory for regular video. You can record video in three resolutions (320x240, 176x144, and 128x96). Many of the same still camera settings apply to camcorder mode. Photo quality was pretty amazing, with defined edges and near-accurate colors. Video quality was average, and was actually quite good when compared to other camera phones.
You can personalize the ic902 with a selection of screen savers, clock styles, menu layouts, and more from Sprint. The same goes for ringtones and alerts. The phone comes with five game demos--Brain Juice, Midnight Bowling, Pac-Man/Ms. Pac-Man, Tetris, and World Series of Poker--but you can always download the real McCoy from Sprint as well.
We tested the dual-mode (iDEN 800; CDMA 1900) Motorola ic902 in San Francisco. Sound quality was great--voices sound natural and clear, and automated voice services understood our commands clearly. Speakerphone calls were pretty impressive as well. We also paired the Motorola Deluxe ic902 with the Cardo S-640 successfully. The Motorola ic902 has a rated talk-time battery life of 3.5 hours, and a tested talk time of 4 hours, 55 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the ic902 has a digital SAR rating of 1.53 watts per kilogram.