often takes pride in offering a wide variety of phones for every budget, including the cheap, basic flip phone. The Motorola i412 is one such handset. With its staid design and minimal features, the phone won't attract anyone who wants something high-end, but for only $69.99 without a contract, it might be perfect for those on a tight budget.
The Motorola i412 is typical of most basic flip phones. It has a simple wide rectangular design, with measurements of 3.8 inches long by 1.9 inches wide by 0.8 inch deep. The front plate is slightly raised, with the external display panel in the middle. The overall feel of the i412 is predictably cheap, but that's not a surprise considering its price. As far as aesthetics go, we think the design is a bit on the boring side. Thankfully, the electric blue plating gives it a bit of pizzazz.
In the center panel is a skinny 1-inch monochrome display that shows remaining battery life, signal strength, and the date and time. It also shows incoming caller ID and message notifications. Sitting above the display is the VGA camera. Beneath the display are the speakerphone button and a smart key that enables you to access the Recent Calls list when the cover is closed. You can scroll through the list with the volume rocker. To select a number, simply press the aforementioned speakerphone button, and a call be placed without you having to open the phone. The volume rocker and push-to-talk key are on the left spine, while a Micro-USB port sits on the right.
Flip open the phone and you'll find a rather lackluster 1.79-inch display. It only supports 64,000 colors with a resolution of 128x160 pixels. As a result, graphics and text have a somewhat blocky and grainy look to them. This is typical of entry-level phones, but we can't help but wish for a sharper screen anyway. You can adjust the wallpaper, the text size, the display theme, the backlight timer, the clock format, and the menu view. The default menu grid is unfortunately typical of a lot of iDEN phones--the interface requires you to flip through multiple pages.
Underneath the display is a simple navigation array that consists of two soft keys, a round toggle, a menu key, and a camera button. The toggle can be assigned to four user-defined shortcuts. We found the array to be usable, but wished it weren't so flat. Below the array are the Send and End/Power keys. The number keypad is roomy, and we like that each key is separated and raised above the surface in a squarish shape. As a result, it's easy to text and dial just by feeling around.
The Motorola i412 doesn't have a lot of features, but it does have the bare essentials and then some. They include a 600-entry address book with enough room for multiple numbers, an e-mail address, and even an IP address. You can customize each entry with one of 20 polyphonic ringtones that are preloaded on the phone. You can't add a photo ID, which makes sense since the external display doesn't support it. As the i412 supports push-to-talk, you can also add walkie-talkie numbers and assign PTT groups.
Some of the core features include text and multimedia messaging, Java apps that pull down Web e-mail from sources like Yahoo, AOL, and Gmail, instant messaging, Bluetooth, and a simple WAP browser. You also get essentials like a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, a datebook, call alerts, a voice recorder, a memo pad, call timers, and even GPS.
There aren't that many media options with i412. You can load on your own MP3s on here, but the player is extremely limited; they're mostly for use as ringtones. You do get a camera, but as we mentioned, it is only VGA-quality. You can adjust the picture quality (Normal and Fine), picture size (large, medium, small, and profile), the self timer, and the zoom, and it also has a low-light setting, though it doesn't help that much. Predictably, photo quality was very poor. Colors are muddy, and graphics are blurry. We wouldn't recommend using the camera for anything beyond the most basic snapshots.