Sprint Nextel has just launched the first iDEN smartphone to run the Android OS, and we just had a chance to play with the rugged “push to talk” Android phone. It’s called the Motorola i1, and it isn’t just the first Android device to support Sprint’s Nextel PTT technology, it’s actually one of the very few iDEN phones offer a compelling feature-set without looking like a brick. From our short time with the Motorola i1, we can say that the military tough Android phone is the most impressive Sprint Nextel phone we’ve ever had the pleasure of handling.
The Motorola i1 (codename: Opus) boasts a 3.1-inch capacitive touchscreen, 5-megapixel camera with LED flash, GPS, WiFi, 2.5mm headphone jack, and a microSD card slot. Android 1.5 is the OS of choice here, which means you won’t get all the multiple Gmail accounts, voice-to-text features, Google voice search or any live wallpapers. There’s no 3G data connectivity, because the iDEN network just doesn’t work that way, but the Opera Mini 5 web browser should make quick work of any internet surfing you might want to do. That makes the Motorola i1 the first Android handset to rock the Opera Mini 5 browser. In fact, it’s the first smartphone ever to make use of Opera’s page load-optimizing Mini web browser.
And, since the Moto i1 is built to military-spec 810F for shock/vibration, dust and water resistance, it’ll stand up to just about anything you throw at it. Holding the i1 in the hand confirms that it’s built with ruggedness in mind – the rubber trim fits snugly around all seams, with a solid feeling frame that inspires confidence. Still, you won’t want to submerge the i1 in a bucket of water, as it’s only resistant to “blowing rain.”
Overall, if you need a super-tough iDEN phone that sports an Android operating system, the i1 is, well, it’s your only option. We just hope an Android 2.1 update will find its way to the handset in due time.