updated 08:40 pm EDT, Tue March 23, 2010
Android phone geared for business use
Electronista stopped by Motorola's booth to get a closer look at the new i1 push-to-talk handset. The housing is sealed to protect against water and dust, while rubber lining along the edges helps prevent damage from light impacts. Despite the rugged protection, the device still maintains the overall look of Motorola's Cliq XT handset.
The i1 is the first Android-based handset to offer push-to-talk functionality on iDEN networks. The button is located on the upper left side, which should be familiar for people accustomed to push-to-talk devices. Using the navigation control feels slightly awkward at first, as the button is larger than that of many other devices.
The Android interface is presented on a 3.1-inch touchscreen, leaving a relatively large gap between the display and button rows. The overall form is thick but compact, making it a pocketable alternative to bulky handsets such as the Droid.
Motorola utilizes an adaptation of Google's Android 1.5 operating system, but without the company's MotoBLUR overlay. Most of the tweaks are related to the iDEN network, with PTT functionality built into the contacts utility and messaging services. Other features are geared for business, such as Microsoft Office utilities.
The i1 makes a welcome addition to Nextel's lineup, while marking one of the first Android phones to feature rugged construction. Motorola has yet to disclose a time-frame for an update to the dated Android 1.5 software, however.
Sprint is expected to offer the i1 sometime this summer, while SouthernLINC is aiming for a spring release.