Motorola i886 Review
Nextel is a bit of a time capsule for the cellular industry. The lineup is comprised mostly of flip phones with mediocre specifications, and their signature feature- Direct Connect- is dying a slow death. Sprint has infused considerable cash into the network and refreshed the lineup with new devices, but for the most part things are pretty stagnant in the iDEN world. That makes the Motorola i886 somewhat of a curiosity. What appears to be just another QWERTY side-slider (the first for iDEN, by the way) has a very curious UI that could mark a shift in the cellular landscape. Features of the i886 include a 2 megapixel camera, Bluetooth, side-sliding QWERTY keyboard, Opera Mini browser and the i886 is certified military spec 810G for dust, shock, vibration, low pressure, temperature extremes and solar radiation. Included with the Motorola i886 you’ll get an AC charger, SIM card and 2GB microSD card.
When closed, the Motorola i886 is a very solid candybar phone coated in soft touch paint for a quality feel. It has a 2.2” QVGA display with 262K colors with an ambient light sensor. The display is good enough; smaller text sometimes looks a bit choppy but is readable and the screen can be used in most lighting conditions with little issue. Below it is a traditional 12 key dialpad with navigation cluster. The 5-way directional pad has three buttons to either side. To the left is menu, send and notifications while to the right you’ll find home, end and back. Like most of the phone the keys are painted with soft touch and they have a good feel to them. They are prominently raised and offer good feedback and travel.
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The left side of the i886 has a volume rocker and Direct Connect (DC) key near the top while the right side has the camera button and microUSB charging port towards the bottom. The top of the i886 features the battery door lock mechanism, 3.5mm headphone jack (no DC ring) and speaker key. The bottom back half of the phone protruded slightly further out than the front to accommodate the i886’s generous speaker. The rear of the phone simply has the 2MP camera.
The Motorola i886 uses a spring assisted slide mechanism to snap out the full QWERTY keyboard. This is only the second time we’ve seen a QWERTY on a non-smartphone iDEN device, with the other being the Clutch i465. Thankfully the keys on the i886 are more generous and typing is more natural. Again, they are coated in soft touch and the feel somewhat brings to mind the DROID 2 Global, though the keys are spaced out from one another. There isn’t a lot of travel to them, but there is a solid click when you press something. Typing is slightly too stiff for our tastes, but we don’t have too much of an issue with it and in general we were fairly accurate and quick enough.
The Motorola i886 is definitely hefty in the hand, but this is desired from a military spec device. In general the build quality is good, though there is some play in the slide mechanism when the QWERTY is exposed that we do not like. Beyond that the phone feels very solid in your hand and the soft touch paint job gives it a quality feel. While we’d like to see the slide play shored up, as a mil spec device we can’t say we’re too worried about the i886 not holding up.