Motorola i576 - black (Sprint)
It's rare that you'd confuse a Nextel phone for another carrier's handset. Indeed, Nextel models such as the Motorola i576 tend to have a functional, industrial design that's built for usability and durability rather than sex appeal. Granted, there has been the occasional exception, but most of the time Nextel phones mean business, and business only. Similar to many of its predecessors, the Moto i576 offers a rugged design with rubber sidings, an extendable antenna, and a tiny external display. Features are basic--it doesn't even have a camera--but the i576 is a reliable and easy-to-use phone with decent performance. The i576 is $279 if you pay full price but it is just $79 with service.
Clad in basic black, the i576 doesn't put on any airs. Make no mistake--this is a cell phone for making calls. At 4.3 inches tall by 1.8 inches wide by 1 inches thick and 4.2 ounces, it is a tad thick and bulky, but it remains portable and convenient. Rubber sidings on the front and back enhance the phone's durability and give it a comfortable, solid feel. Motorola added a textured design on the front and back covers that resembles a metal floor. It's purely for show, but it's a nice touch. And of course, the i576 is certified to military specifications.
As with most Nextel phones, the i576's external display is small and rectangular. Though we're used to this arrangement, it doesn't mean that we like it. The display crams in a lot of information including the date, time, battery life, signal strength, and caller ID, but the text is tiny. It supports 64,000 colors but its small size prevents it from showing photo caller ID. Above the display are two indicator lights for the Bluetooth feature and new messages.
Exterior controls include a volume rocker and the push-to-talk button on the left spine. Both controls are large and tactile. On the top next to the stubby antenna, you'll find a speakerphone button and a control for making calls when the handset is closed. The antenna is extendable but you should take care when using it, as it feels a tad flimsy. On the bottom of the right spine is a 2.5mm headset jack while directly opposite is a Micro-USB. The speaker sits on the bottom of the phone. Curiously, it's covered in bright blue.
The internal display measures 1.75 inches wide and supports 64,000 colors. The difference between it and a 262,000-color display are apparent, but we'll let it pass on the phone. Like on all Nextel phones, the menu system has a multipage design in either list or grid formats. Both designs are relatively easy to use. You can change the backlighting time and the font size.
The navigation array shows a pleasant design. There's a four-way toggle with a central OK button, two soft keys, a menu control, a Web browser shortcut and the Talk and End/power buttons. The arrangement is spacious and the keys are tactile. What's more, the silver toggle stands out against the background. The keypad buttons are sizeable and spaced far apart from either each other. They're also raised above the surface of the phone with large numbers and letters and a bright backlighting. We had no problems when dialing or texting and we like that you can designate various controls to act as shortcuts to your favorite features.
The i576 has a 600-contact phone book with room in each entry for six phone numbers, an e-mail address, an IP address, and a Direct Connect number. You can organize contacts into groups and you can pair contacts and groups with one of 22 polyphonic ringtones. Other features include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, a calendar, a voice recorder, a speakerphone, a notepad, call timers, Bluetooth, voice dialing, and call forwarding.
As a Nextel phone, the i576 offers all of the carrier's 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 NextMail, which sends voice messages to any e-mail address, and Direct Send, which transmits your contact information to other compatible phones. And finally, there's Nextel's second line service, which lets you add a second line to the phone with a different phone number.
You can personalize the i576 with a variety of wallpaper, themes, and alert sounds. You can download more options and more ringtones with the wireless Web browser. You get a fair choice of Java (J2ME) applications, including a Nascar Sprint Cup game, Alarm Clock Plus, Calculator Suite, and Sprint Mobile e-mail. And thanks to the i576's integrated GPS, you can use TeleNav 3.8, which is a subscription-based navigation service.
We tested the dual-band (iDEN 800/900) i576 in San Francisco using Nextel's service. Call quality was up to the usual Nextel standards. We enjoyed a strong signal with great voice clarity and plenty of volume. The only downside was a slight background hiss, but it wasn't bothersome.
On their end, callers had few complaints. They reported good clarity without any static and said we sounded natural. A few of our callers mentioned the background hiss as well, but it wasn't a big deal for them either. Speakerphone calls were satisfactory as were calls with a Bluetooth headset.
Direct Connect calls were loud and clear. At times we heard a bit of an echo, but it was nothing unusual. Calls between the i576 and i776 connected instantly.
The i576 has a rated battery life of 5 hours talk time. Our tests showed a talk time of 5 hours and 5 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the i576 has a digital SAR of 1.45 watts per kilogram.