It's been a few months since Nextel introduced a new cell phone, so were we eager to get our hands on its new Motorola i670. What awaited us is a typical low-end Nextel phone--one with basic but dependable features and a bulky design that makes no effort to make a style statement. That's not a bad thing--the carrier always has stuck with what it does best. So, if you're a Nextel fan and want a simple phone for making regular and Direct Connect calls, the i670 is worth a look. Though there's no external display and the internal display is nothing fancy, the i670 will hit your wallet if you pay full price ($249). Fortunately, service rebates can lower the cost to a reasonable $49.
Like most Nextel flip phones, the i670 is relatively bulky at 3.5 by 2 by 10 inches and 4.1 ounces. Granted, that's an improvement over some of the carrier's previous behemoths but it still makes for a tight fit in a pocket. That said, the i670 has sleek lines and it takes its overall shape from the previous Motorola i850. Though the phone is not protected by layers of rubber coating like other phones from the carrier, it does enjoy a solid construction.
As we said, one drawback of the i670 is that it doesn't have an external display. As a result, you have to open the phone to see a caller's identity and to check the battery life. The other exterior features are reminiscent of previous phones from the carrier. The left spine holds a covered headset jack, a volume rocker, and a control for making push-to-talk (PTT) calls over Nextel's Direct Connect network. On the top of the handset are a speakerphone control and a key for sending calls directly to voice mail without answering. Beside them is the stubby extendable antenna, while the covered charger port is on the bottom of the handset. Finally, the speaker is in its usual place on the bottom of the rear flap.
Unfortunately the i670's internal display is a partial step back in Nextel's screen evolution. While the carrier's newer phones support 262,000-color displays, the i670 display shows only 65,000 colors. You can change the backlighting, time, and font size, but the screen isn't particularly vibrant or sharp. Also, we miss the more attractive and intuitive menu structure we saw on the Motorola i870. On the upside, however, the i670's navigation array is spacious and user-friendly. The rubberized covering also makes them quite tactile. A four-way toggle doubles as a shortcut to four user-defined functions. Inside the toggle center is an OK button surrounded by dedicated power and menu buttons and the Talk and End keys. There are also two soft keys that double as programmable shortcuts. The backlit keypad buttons are large and widely spaced. We enjoyed the raised texture in particular.