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Motorola i870 (Nextel) review: Motorola i870 (Nextel)

In another first for Nextel, the i870 features a 1.3-megapixel camera, which includes a 4X digital zoom, a flash, and a self-timer. Picture quality is decent, with better color saturation than we've seen from other megapixel camera phones, though it still can't compare with a digital camera. You can take pictures in sizes from 128x96 to 1,280x1,024 pixels in either Fine or Normal quality settings. On the other hand, it's missing the picture effects (black and white, sepia, and so on) and the white-balance controls that you find with most camera phones. There's also a video recorder if you're in the mood to shoot poor-quality clips. Once you're done with your snapshots or videos, you can store the files to the phone's 25MB of internal memory, which is on the low side, but you can always save these files to a TransFlash card. You can also use images for picture caller ID or as your phone's wallpaper. The i870 supports multimedia messaging, so you can send images to any e-mail address or to other cell phone users; Sprint Nextel's multimedia messaging service is compatible with Cingular, Boost Mobile, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and Leap Wireless. In a nice bit of synergy, you can store pictures and video clips on Sprint's Web site.

The Nextel i870 1.3 megapixel camera takes decent quality pictures.

The Nextel Motorola i870 supports MP3 playback, but because it plays tracks from only TransFlash cards, you can forget about direct-to-device music transfers, let alone over-the-air downloads. The package includes a 32MB Micro SD card, which is enough room for only about six or seven songs, and an SD adapter for use with standard SD slots. To launch the audio player, just press and hold the play button on the phone's cover. Both the external and internal LCDs show the artist and song name and elapsed time during playback. The audio player offers shuffle and repeat modes; Rock, Pop, Jazz, Classical, and Bass EQ presets; and visual effects for the internal LCD. The external speaker isn't really suitable for music playback, so it's best to invest in a stereo headset (the i870 comes with the typical single-ear headset). Conveniently, the i870 comes with Roxio's Easy Media Creator software to create and transfer MP3s.

As for personalization options, you get 15 ring tones; of course, you can download more and assign different tones to each number for each contact. You can also choose from three desktop themes and set your wallpaper images to cycle at intervals ranging from five minutes to once a day. The Nextel Motorola i870 comes with several Java apps, such as Vijay Singh Pro Golf 2005 and 1KTV, an on-demand TV service.

We tested the Nextel Motorola i870 (iDEN 800) in the Chicago area. Call quality was generally good. When reception was strong, callers said they couldn't tell we were using a cell phone, and people on the other end sounded loud and clear. The integrated speakerphone also performed strongly, with callers reporting no problems hearing us even when we were a few feet from the phone.

Battery life was another story. We maxed out after 2 hours of talk time--45 minutes short of Nextel's rating of 2.75 hours. Also, the phone heats up significantly after about a half-hour of conversation. Standby time wasn't much better: 2.3 days compared with the already unimpressive rating of 3 days. According to FCC radiation tests, the Nextel Motorola i870 has a digital SAR rating of 0.59 watts per kilogram.

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