The Nextel Motorola i355's 2-inch-diagonal display gets the job done, but it's nothing to write home about. With a decent resolution of 130x120 pixels and support for 65,000 colors, the screen is reasonably detailed and colorful, but it can't compare to the latest high-resolution camera screens that show many more colors. Then again, the i355 isn't a camera phone, so the display's so-so resolution doesn't strike us as a deal breaker. The phone's workable but staid menu system will be familiar to Nextel users, complete with the annoying main-menu quirk that forces you to hit Next and Back to scroll through all the menu options. You can change the contrast and backlighting time and adjust the font size.
Using the Nextel Motorola i355's keypad is no picnic; the rubberized keys are so tough that you must press down firmly for them to register. That said, there's little chance you'll hit a key by accident, and if you spill your coffee on the phone's keypad--a disaster that occurs with most other handsets--the i355 takes it in stride. The navigation-control layout is relatively decent and much less cluttered than those of other Nextel phones. A five-way toggle acts as a shortcut to four user-defined functions. You get a pair of soft keys and dedicated Call, End, power, and main menu buttons; in addition, there's a dedicated Direct Connect button below the main keypad. However, there's no dedicated speakerphone key for non-push-to-talk calls; the only time you can engage the speakerphone is while you're on a call. The keypad buttons are a decent size, but the yellow backlighting is rather dim.
Along the left edge of the phone are the familiar push-to-talk and volume controls--again, nothing new for experienced Nextel users--while a headphone jack with a superthick, rubberized plastic flap sits on the right side. On the bottom of the headset is a tough plastic flap for the AC/data port, while the stubby yet sturdy retractable antenna is up top. Turn the Motorola i355 around, and you'll find the cool, ridged battery cover with a silver-ringed speaker (squint, and it looks a bit like a superhero logo) just beneath--sweet.The Nextel Motorola i355's only real feature worth crowing about is its tough-as-nails design; otherwise, everything here is pretty standard. Besides Nextel's Direct Connect and Group Connect services--as well as the local walkie-talkie Direct Talk and Direct Send, which lets you send contacts to other Direct Send-enabled phones--you get onboard GPS, a 600-entry address book with room in each entry for multiple numbers, an e-mail address, and a Web address. You also can assign contacts to a group or pair them with one of three polyphonic ring tones or 12 monophonic tones for caller ID. Other features include call timers, a calendar with week and month views, an airplane mode, a speakerphone, voice calling and memos, a WAP 2.0 wireless Web browser, multimedia and text messaging, and a vibrate mode.
The Java-enabled Nextel Motorola i355 comes with a series of demos, including Jamdat Bowling; 1KTV, which is a mobile TV app, but don't expect anything more than a slide show with audio; and the Big Brother-ish mComet, which tracks the movement of mobile workers via GPS. There are also download shortcuts to TeleNav, which is another GPS app, and Tetris Deluxe.
Personalization options on the Nextel Motorola i355 are up to snuff, including a choice of wallpaper (including a couple of animated versions), menu and clock styles, ringer profiles, and color palates. You also have the option to set the disco lights to Flash when the phone rings.We tested the Nextel Motorola i355 (iDEN 800) in New York City; we had no trouble chatting with our contacts, who reported that they heard us loud and clear. We also tried the phone in our gadget-rich apartment--complete with a microwave oven, a 32-inch CRT, a Wi-Fi network, and a wireless phone--and didn't encounter any interference. The speakerphone was loud and clear, but it's best that you place the phone facedown on a surface, since the speakerphone is on the rear face.
Motorola promises 4.5 hours of talk time and 10 days of standby time from the i355. In our tests, we beat the rated talk time by an extra hour, for a total of 5.5 hours. Standby time was 5 days. According to FCC radiation tests, the Nextel Motorola i355 has a digital SAR rating of 1.45 watts per kilogram.