The words thin and light aren't usually associated with Nextel handsets. The Nextel i830, made by Motorola, fits that bill without sacrificing the features we've come to expect from a Nextel unit. Just make sure you don't keep the phone powered longer than necessary, as its standby battery life isn't the best. And at $300, the i830 will take some of the stuffing out of your wallet, although you may be able to find it at a discount with service. Nextel touts the i830 as its thinnest, lightest handset yet, measuring 3.3 by 1.8 by 0.8 inches and weighing a mere 3.6 ounces. Despite its svelte stature (by the company's standards), the phone feels almost as sturdy as larger Nextel mobiles. Though it is undeniably different, the bronze casing wasn't to our liking--it's as if you were talking on giant penny--but the phone does come in silver as well. The exterior monochrome display is small and displays only one line of text, but the vibrant blue backlighting does make it easy to read. It shows the date, time, battery life, signal strength, and caller ID (where available).
The speakerphone and the Recent Calls buttons are placed on the top of the unit, next to the one-inch antenna. With the cover closed, you can make calls by pushing the Recent Calls button followed by the speakerphone. The rear speaker, however, is located on the bottom of the unit, right where you hold the phone. Nonetheless, the speaker was loud enough even when our hand was in the way. The Push To Talk (PTT) button sits on the left spine along with the volume controls. Both are easy to manipulate.
The interior 65,000-color display is easy to read in most lighting, but at 1.75 inches diagonal, it's almost too small. Also, the i830 retains the already cluttered navigation keys found on the , but here they're even smaller and closer together. On the plus side, two soft keys and a four-way toggle (with an OK button in its center) provide one-touch access to a variety of user-defined functions. The dial-pad buttons are easy to press, and the blue backlighting makes for easy viewing in dark rooms. The menu structure is simple enough, but as with other Nextel phones, it's not particularly eye-catching. Also, we wish you could scroll through all of the menu options on one page instead of clicking More to access the rest of the features. In addition, pressing the Back key in a secondary menu takes you out of the menu structure entirely. Like most Nextel phones, the i830 includes a 600-entry address book, which will appeal to business users. Each entry can hold up to seven phone numbers, a particularly useful feature since each Nextel user needs a separate number for regular and PTT calls. If that's not enough, Nextel offers a free online account that lets you store (but not sync with) an additional 500 contacts as well as calendar information. You also get a voice recorder, voice-activated dialing, an integrated speakerphone, a date book, a WAP 2.0 wireless Web browser, e-mail and text messaging, and 12 monophonic and 3 polyphonic ring tones. Nextel also offers a choice of POP3, AOL Instant Messenger, and Microsoft Exchange-compatible mobile e-mail options (with syncing) upon activation of a Nextel Online package, which will run you $10 to $15 per month. USB connectivity is included with the phone. Also, an Airplane mode shuts off the network connection and lets you play games, check the date book, and use the voice recorder without disrupting flight controls--just try explaining that to the flight attendant.
The i830's Java (J2ME) support includes the GPS-powered TeleNav 2.2 utility for audible driving directions, a selection of games such as 3D Baseball and Tetris, and the 1KTV multimedia news service. (TeleNav and 1KTV require subscriptions.) You can download additional games and ring tones from Nextel's Web site to the phone's 2MB of included memory, and the mobile can be personalized with different wallpapers, colors, and sounds. We tested the Nextel i830 iDEN (800MHz) phone in the Chicago area. Call quality was generally decent, although we did experience some occasional echoing. Calls can be answered with the flip open or closed. The speakerphone is sufficiently loud even for outdoor use, although callers complained of echoing on their end with the speakerphone activated.
We reached 3 hours of talk time, beating the rated 2 hours. Standby time, however, was less than 48 hours, compared with the rated 55 hours, so you'll probably want to turn the phone off whenever possible.