Boost Mobile was one of the first few pay-as-you-go MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) to specifically target the youth market in the past year. Aimed specifically at an urban, hip-hop audience, the carrier's main claim to fame is its nationwide push-to-talk (PTT) service built on Nextel's network, plus lots of multimedia support for streaming video, audio, and the wireless Web. For its part, the Motorola i885 certainly delivers on those promises and adds a bit more. The Motorola i885 is available for $349. Boost Mobile's prepaid plan will cost you 20 cents per minute weekdays, with 10 cents per minute on nights and weekends (a.k.a. Boost Time) and when calling Sprint, Nextel, and other Boost customers. Read more about Boost Mobile's services in our quick guide to prepaid plans.
In stark contrast to the Razrs and the Pebls, the i885 is one of the clunkiest phones in Motorola's lineup. Overall we weren't impressed with its dull gray color and blocky design. Sure its measurements aren't terribly bulky (3.5 by 1.9 by 0.7 inches, 4.0 ounces), but its overall shape and size give it a decidedly bricklike feel. We admit that it feels comfortable in the hand and when held next to the ear, but it has a rather sticky hinge that makes it difficult to open and close the phone.
The Motorola i885 features a camera lens and flash at the top of the front flap, just above a 1.5-inch diagonal external screen that supports 65,000 colors. The display shows the usual battery and signal strength, time, and caller ID. It also shows the current song playing if the MP3 player is activated. At the very bottom front is the Boost Mobile logo that lights up whenever the phone is activated and a large speaker grille. On the right spine of the front flap are the music controls, which we found a little tricky to press because they're so small. On the top of the device is a speakerphone button next to the stop button. Aside from stopping music tracks, it enables you to access your Recent Calls list when the cover is closed. There's also an extendable antenna, though its construction is a bit flimsy.
Open the phone, and you're presented with a bright, 262,000-color, 2.25-inch diagonal screen. We weren't pleased with the user interface of the phone; not only was it utilitarian-looking, the menu was divided up into three whole pages, making it tedious to navigate. For example, the Shortcuts folder is on the third page by default, and we had to scroll all the way through to get to it. Although we finally did manage to change the order of the menu options, it was still tiresome. The menu, whether in icon or list views, was divided up into three whole pages. We had to scroll through to the third page to get to the Shortcuts folder, which is ironic. Aside from that, you can adjust the backlight timer of the screen as well as the font size, though you can't adjust the brightness and contrast.
The navigation controls consist of two soft keys, a five-way toggle with user-defined shortcuts, dedicated menu and camera buttons, and the Talk and End keys. The Power button is located on the lower-left corner next to the mic. The design of the controls and the keypad reflect the overall utilitarian feel of the phone, with that dull and blocky look. We found the rubberized controls easy enough to press, and we liked that the keypad provided enough texture to dial by feel.