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Motorola i885 (Boost Mobile) review: Motorola i885 (Boost Mobile)

The Motorola i885 will appeal to those who want a full-featured phone with nationwide walkie-talkie service, but those wanting a better user experience overall would do well to look elsewhere.

Nicole Lee Former Editor
Nicole Lee is a senior associate editor for CNET, covering cell phones, Bluetooth headsets, and all things mobile. She's also a fan of comic books, video games, and of course, shiny gadgets.
Nicole Lee
5 min read
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.


Motorola i885 (Boost Mobile)

The Good

The Motorola i885 has a slew of features, such as a 2-megapixel camera, a video recorder, an MP3 music player, and support for Boost Mobile's nationwide push-to-talk service. Plus, audio quality on the speakerphone is outstanding.

The Bad

The Motorola i885 is a clunky cell phone with a dull design and an unattractive user interface.

The Bottom Line

The Motorola i885 will appeal to those who want a full-featured phone with nationwide walkie-talkie service, but those wanting a better user experience overall would do well to look elsewhere.

The Motorola i885 has a dull, gray design.

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.

The Motorola i885 has a 2-megapixel camera with a flash.

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 Motorola i885 has dedicated music controls.

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.

While we weren't impressed by its design, the features of the phone definitely made us sit up and take notice. Not only are there a slew of multimedia options, such as a megapixel camera and a music player, there's also the Boost PTT walkie-talkie service. But first we'll address the basic features. The Motorola i885 comes with a 600-entry phonebook with room for 10 different numbers or e-mail addresses per contact, and the ability to assign each to a group, a picture ID, or a personalized ring tone (only one was provided with the phone, so you'll have to download additional ring tones for more options). Other features include Bluetooth, text and multimedia messaging, the wireless Web, speakerphone, voice dialing, vibrate mode, a datebook, voice recording, and a notepad. What's more, Boost's Nationwide PTT service can be used to send pictures, contact info, and event information. There's also a handy GPS location option that'll help keep you from getting lost.

The 2-megapixel camera on the Motorola i885 takes good photos for a camera phone, definitely better-looking than their 1.3-megapixel and VGA cousins. The camera settings include the choice between Normal and Fine picture quality, seven different picture sizes (the minimum is 96x65 resolution and the maximum is 1,600x1,200), a self-timer, plus 4X digital zoom and flash. There's also a video recorder that can record clips with sound up to a resolution of 176x144. The phone comes with a 64MB MicroSD card, so you can easily store images and videos on it.

The Motorola i885 produced good camera phone photos.

One of the best features on the Motorola i885 is the digital audio player. Not only is the user interface well designed, you can access your favorite music easily by artist, album, or genre. Moreover, there's even a separate folder for podcasts. The clean interface reminded us eerily of the iPod's. Sound quality was really fantastic, either when heard through a headset or via the stereo speakers. You upload music to the MicroSD card via the included USB SD card reader.

You can personalize the i885 with a variety of wallpapers, themes, and ring tones. Though the phone itself doesn't come with a lot of options, you can download more of them via the phone's Web browser. The game comes with two Java (J2ME) games (Zuma and a demo of Racing Fever 2), but you can download more.

We tested the (iDEN 850) phone in San Francisco using Boost Mobile's service. Call quality was fantastic on both ends, with callers coming in loud and clear and vice versa. They could hardly tell we were on a cell phone. Speakerphone call quality was also great, with a very loud maximum volume. We paired the phone with the Nokia BH-800 Bluetooth headset successfully, and we made and answered calls without a hitch.

The i885 has a rated talk time of 2.75 hours and a promised standby time of three days. In our tests, we managed to eke out 3 hours of talk time. According to FCC radiation tests, the Motorola i885 has a digital SAR rating of 1.21 watts per kilogram.


Motorola i885 (Boost Mobile)

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 8Performance 8