Motorola i335 Review

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Introduction and Design
Introduction:

The i335 may be Motorola’s latest entry-level iDEN phone, but it represents a shift in Nextel thinking. While entry-level in price, it has some uncommon features for iDEN units including Bluetooth, an internal antenna and a thin form-factor. This waif of a unit comes in at only half inch (12.7mm), but still manages to meet Military Standard 810 F for dust, shock, and vibration. Along with its i425 Boost Mobile cousin, the i335 is the first full iDEN unit to feature a miniUSB charging port. Included in the box you’ll find:

  • Lithium Ion Battery
  • AC Charger
  • User’s Manual


Design:

The i335 is a slim, sleek and stylish candybar phone, unlike anything else in Sprint’s iDEN lineup. The body is mostly black, with a sliver trim ring running around the phone. The front housing and side buttons are composed of a soft, rubbery material whereas the back is a harder rubber. The silver trim is hard plastic.



The i335 will eventually replace the i325 and i265, but shares almost nothing in common with the two units. For starters, there is no external antenna. It is also the thinnest and lightest iDEN unit ever to be carried by Sprint.


You can compare the Motorola i335 to many other phones, using PhoneArena's Visual Size Compare tool.

At the top of the face is the stylized Motorola logo, which serves to draw attention away from the two earpiece holes that flank it. The display below is a rather small 1.5” TFT LCD, with a 130x130 resolution. Though miniscule it gets the job done, and can be read in all lighting conditions without hassle. We’re glad to see Motorola move from their typical low-end STN screens to a higher quality TFT panel.

The keypad is a unique, if not odd, mashup of rubbery bumps and perforations. There are two soft keys, a five-way directional pad and Menu and Speakerphone hard keys to go along with the Send/End buttons and 12 key dialpad. The four directional keys of the d-pad are scarlet red and form a circle around the OK button in the middle. They are individually raised from the keypad surface, whereas the remainder of the keys are simply bumps under the rubbery skin.

Above each of the four rows of numbers is a strip of perforation where the speakerphone emanates from. Beyond this, the perforations nicely display the unique red keypad backlight. The keys themselves are well spaced and easy to use, offering plenty of travel so that you know they have been pushed. The keypad is really unlike anything we’ve used before, but it’s functional and gets the job done so we appreciate its uniqueness.

The right side of the phone is bare, save for the embossed “Motorola” in the silver trim. On the leftside you will find the volume rocker, Direct Connect (DC) button and a door which swivels out to reveal the 2.5mm headphone jack and miniUSB connector. The headphone jack will accept any standard 2.5mm headset and also has the special ring around it which allows it to accommodate PTT capable headsets.

The bottom of the i335 is slanted upwards towards the user and features a perforated black insert in the silver trim. In the same vein of the keypad perforations there is a red insert behind the black grill, though it is not backlit.

The back of the phone is simply the battery door, with a small lanyard loop at the top. The door comes off relatively easily to expose the battery and SIM card slot, but getting it back on can be slightly tricky. The door snaps back into place easy enough, but we usually found that not all the contact points actually snapped in. This required us to either push on that area or take it off and put it back on altogether. There was also some play when it was secured, and when we pushed on the door it creaked. This was really the only manufacturing flaw we found however, and overall the i335 is superbly constructed.


Motorola i335 Video Review




Motorola i335 360 Degrees View:




Software:

While the design is new and fresh, unfortunately the software has not received the same makeover. It is the same Motorola UI that has been found on iDEN units for years. Sprint’s iDEN/CDMA hybrid units are using the newer, better interface but for some inexplicable reason Motorola has chosen not to port this to iDEN only units yet. Perhaps the biggest annoyance with this is the separate menu button in lieu of a back button. This can make menu navigation frustrating at times, and while there is sometimes a back option via softkeys there are other times when you have to exit the menu system altogether and cannot simply go back a page. Even more frustrating is that the soft back button sometimes takes the user out of the menu system instead of simply going back a page.

There are two top level menu pages, and 22 different options. Quite simply, this is bloated and issues like this are exactly why Motorola is struggling. On the bright side the menu can be reordered by the user, making commonly accessed icons easier to get to. Furthermore, there is a Shortcuts option which allows the user to assign 9 shortcuts that correspond with the keypad, so if the user assigns Shortcuts to one of the soft or d-pad keys they will have two-click access to their 9 favorite applications.

The UI is pretty standard fare, only notable for some omissions such as a calculator. It does have a fairly decent datebook option where the user has some advanced features such as recurring appointments and having a specific sound profile or application assigned to an appointment. Other than that you’ll find run of the mill options like Messaging, Contacts, Settings, etc. It is Java-based, meaning the user can download both first and third-party Java applications ranging from games to GPS services.

The i335 allows for up to 600 numbers in the phone book. Individual entries can have 7 phone numbers, a DC number, an email address and an IP address each. It should be noted that the 600 number limit is total, not 600 contacts with up to 7 numbers each. We’re really not sure what the IP option is for, as you can only store an actual IP and not a webpage.


Messaging is simple and straight forward. Like other iDEN units it utilizes T9 predictive messaging, not iTAP which is found on all other Motorola devices. Despite the lack of camera the phone actually supports MMS, and you can send downloaded pictures. Sprint’s iDEN network is notorious slow for messaging and data, and we did experience delivery and receipt delays at times.

It’s not the first iDEN to feature Bluetooth, but the i335 is certainly the most surprising to do so. The only other iDEN units to feature Bluetooth are the i615, BlackBerry 7100i and the ultra-premium i580, i880 and ic902 hybrid. The i335’s $29.99 price point is $170 lower than the next cheapest of those devices. It’s not the most advanced Bluetooth out there, it’s only version 1.2 and the only profiles supported are HSP, HFP (1.5,) DUN, OPP and BPP, but for the average user just being able to talk without a wire is enough.


Performance:

The i335 performed well in our testing. The calls were loud and clear, as we have come to expect from a Motorola iDEN device. The speakerphone is almost too loud, but on a construction site that is a very desirable trait. Bluetooth performance with the Samsung WEP500 was as expected, not great but not any worse than we’ve experienced with other phones. The battery is rated for 3.3 hours of talk time, but in our tests we were able to achieve a staggering 6.6 hours of use. We are not sure why there is such a big discrepancy, but we were pleased with the performance none-the-less.

Sprint’s iDEN network suffers from coverage and capacity issues, but the i335 comes equipped with Direct Talk, which basically turns the unit into a true walkie-talkie when the phone is out of the coverage area. Compatible phones can talk to each other up to six miles away (terrain-dependant) by using each other’s DC number, and group calls are possible as well. This means Direct Talk users can stay in communication with each other even in remote locations or during catastrophes when the cellular network may be down.

Conclusion:

The i335 is very good at what it does. Its size and styling will appeal to a majority of iDEN users, though it lacks higher-end features such as email support and a camera. This phone wasn’t designed for that though, and we found ourselves really liking it. It fits in the hand and the pocket equally well, can withstand a beating and for the first time in a long time we didn’t feel embarrassed using an iDEN unit in public (with the speakerphone OFF, of course.) Improvements can be made, such as revamping the UI or adding a camera, but overall Motorola has a winner with the i335.



Pros

  • Thin, stylish design with internal antenna
  • Bluetooth
  • Exceptional speakerphone
  • Great call quality

Cons

  • No camera
  • UI still outdated

PhoneArena Rating:

8.5

User Rating:

7.0
16 Reviews

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