The old cliché "Better late than never" applies
to this Smartphone. The Motorola i930 runs Windows Mobile 2003
Second Edition for Smartphones (WM2003SE) rather than the new
Windows Mobile 5.0 operating system. The phone was in development
for a few years prior to release, hence it doesn't have WM5 which
was released just a few months before the i930. This may not be
a bad thing after all, as Motorola has gained valuable experience
from their GSM Smartphone, the MPx220 on
how to implement WM2003SE better. This is Sprint/Nextel's first
PTT (Push To Talk) Smartphone, a big step forward for the company
and their users.
Design and Ergonomics
The i930 has a solid, sturdy feeling in
hand and has some serious weight. It's thicker than the Sprint
PPC-6700. The Smartphone
has a slight wobble on the flip, because I can move the top of
the flip slightly to the left and right. Since we only had one
unit for review, I can't say if all i930s have this wobble. The
wobble did not worsen during our testing period, and opening the
flip gives you that nice, reassuring click.
The outer screen is a simple color, multi-line display and it's
pleasingly bright with good contrast. The IR port is on the right
side of the phone, as is the mini-SD slot. The slot has a dust
cover, which is a must on a rugged phone. The heft and look of
the phone make you think it's made of metal, but its actually
shiny black and silver plastic. The status light is on the right
and it blinks green while it is connected to Nextel's iDEN network.
At the bottom is the ubiquitous Motorola connector,
not the mini-USB one that we see in their Razr line. This also has a
dust cover which I find hard to use because the black plastic is very
flimsy and difficult to open and close. The left side has a 2.5mm headset
jack, the volume up/down rocker, as well as the large Push To Talk selector
The PTT buttons are up top: the left button controls the PTT external
speakers, and on the right it brings up a list of phone numbers. You
can scroll through the list of phone numbers using the rocker on the
phone's left side, and press the left PTT button to initiate a call to
the selected number. This, of course, would only work for those numbers
with PTT capabilities.
Open the flip and you're greeted with a nice, bright
65,000 color screen. In the keypad area you'll find the usual Home key,
two soft-keys, back key and an OK button in the center of the direction
pad. I have an average sized hand, and I find it difficult to push the
buttons, especially Home, back and the two soft-keys, as they're too
narrow though long. The call and hang up buttons are also small, but
the number keys are usable.
As with most Sprint/Nextel devices, the i930 has an
extendable external antenna. While I had the phone, I never needed to
extend the antenna, as coverage was very good, and the reception decent.
Horsepower and Performance
The i930 runs on a 200 MHz Texas Instruments
OMAP 730 processor which is competitive with other MS Smartphones currently
on the market. The phone has 64 megs of flash ROM with 27
megs available for storage, and 22mb of available RAM at boot with
no additional programs running. For expansion the unit has an SD slot
that supports SD and MMC cards.
Windows Mobile features
WM2003SE comes with standard features such as Messaging,
Contacts, Calendar, Pocket Internet Explorer and ActiveSync to synchronize
with Outlook on Windows PCs. I had no problems syncing the Smartphone
with Microsoft Outlook, which is a blessing considering that my Windows
Mobile 5 Sprint PPC 6700 usually crashes the computer. WM2003SE runs
very well on the i930 without any of the issues that MPx220 suffered,
nor does it have any problems multitasking. I used the Messaging feature
extensively and I had great luck with it.
I have used the MPx220 to retrieve my e-mails, and
run a variety of other applications as well. My MPx220 has a lot of bugs,
from freezing to crashes, but the i930 proved to be very stable. Data
on Nextel's iDEN network is usable with tolerable page loads in
Internet Explorer on the phone. It took 40 minutes to download 956 e-mails
(15,741k): not quick, but usable.
The i930 does not have good battery life, perhaps due
to the relatively middling capacity 880 mAh Lithium Ion battery. I had
the phone fully charged, and after downloading the 956 e-mails, the phone
was completely drained. It was certainly a surprise, as I did not have
the screen on most of the time. Keep your charger nearby if you're a
heavy email user! I
then tested the phone with retrieving messages every 15 minutes. Again,
the battery life was short as it didn't even last a day. I did the same
thing with my Motorola RAZR, and the RAZR got more than a day on a charge.
Reception should be the biggest consideration for anyone purchasing
a phone. No matter how cool the device is or how cheap the service, the
phone must be able to make calls where you need it to. In comparison
to my Sprint PPC-6700, the i930 did pretty well. In comparison to the
Nextel i870, reception was about the same. I find that Nextel's coverage
is usually better than Sprint's and that's the reason why it performed
better than my PPC-6700. Nextel's stability beat Cingular's reception
in my area (Cingular coverage varies greatly depending on where I am
in town), as tested with my Treo 650. Of course, carriers' coverage
varies depending on where you are, so always try to evaluate a carrier's
service in your location.
The i930 also supports the 900 and 1800 MHz GSM bands used outside the
US which means you can use the phone when traveling anywhere in the world
outside the US where GSM is available. Why won't it work in the US for
GSM? Because the US uses the 850 and 1900 MHz bands instead.
PTT and Call Quality
The i930's PTT feature works well. I could easily turn
the PTT speakers on and off and thus limit the disruptions. The external
speakerphone for the PTT and calls is loud and picks up my voice well,
even in the car. The i930 supports private and groups calls, though it
doesn't have Direct Talk and Enhanced Group Talk, two new Nextel features.
incoming and outgoing voice quality is excellent as is call volume.
Call quality is consistent with no dropped calls. The i930's speakerphone
is loud and clear!
The Motorola's VGA camera won't wow you now that
1 megapixel cameras are the standard for high end phones. That
said, it takes pretty good photos with pleasing colors and decent
contrast. The CMOS camera's application allows you to take photos
in one of four quality settings at 640 x 480 resolution or smaller
sizes if you wish. You can save photos to an SD card or internal
memory, set it as your wallpaper or send it via MMS or IR. In addition
the camera can shoot video with audio up to 10 seconds in length.
If you're a Nextel customer and hunger for an
MS Smartphone, the i930 is currently your one and only choice.
It's heavy and chunky and runs an older version of the Windows
Mobile OS. That said, Motorola's implementation of the WM2003SE
on this device is very good. The device is stable, and I've not
had any lockups with the phone. The Smartphone also multitasks
very well, and the CPU is peppy, running the tasks that I throw
to it quickly. Voice quality and volume are very good and PTT works
well. It may be your only choice, but it's not a bad one. And the
900/1800 MHz GSM support is very attractive to world travelers.
Pro: Works overseas
on GSM networks. Stable, has Push to Talk, excellent call quality
and volume, full sized SD slot rather than MiniSD. Loud speakerphone.
Con: Older operating
system, heavy and chunky design, no Bluetooth, uninspiring battery
- 3.5" (L) x 1.9" (W) x 1.2" (D). Weight: 5.9 ounces.
in speaker, mic and 2.5mm standard stereo headphone
jack. Voice Recorder and Windows Media Player
10 included for your MP3 pleasure.
iDEN network. 900/1800-MHz GSM bands
(for use in Europe, Asia, Middle East but not US).
CMOS camera with 4 quality options and 4 resolution
settings. Camcorder can shoot videos up to
10 seconds in length.
Mobile 2003 Second Edition for Smartphone operating
system. Microsoft Mobile Office suite including Mobile
versions of Word, Excel and Outlook (email, Contacts,
Calendar, Tasks but not Notes). Also Windows Media
Player 10 and camera application. ActiveSync 3.8
and Outlook 2002 for PCs included.