Motorola and Sprint Nextel said they are launching the Motorola i1, a rugged smartphone based on Google's Android 1.5 operating system that lets users push to talk with other Nextel subscribers, this summer in North America.
The companies, which unveiled the device at the CTIA Wireless show in Las Vegas March 22, said the device features a 3.1-inch touch screen, 5.0 megapixel camera with flash and geotagging, video, Opera's Mini 5 browser and WiFi.
The gadget is based on Motorola's iDEN technology, which provides wireless telephony, a nationwide and international two-way radio, packet data for Internet access, two-way e-mail and text messaging, and wireless modem capabilities. IDEN is essentially what gives the devices walkie-talkie-like functionality.
Motorola and Sprint are marketing the i1 as a device for those who "work hard and play hard," as it meets military specification 810F for protection against extreme temperatures, dust, shock, vibration and driving rain.
The i1 includes Google search, Google Maps, Google Calendar, Google Talk and Gmail. However, Microsoft Document Viewer and corporate sync are also available to let users access Word or PowerPoint files.
Users can enter text for messaging with the standard Android virtual keyboard and Swype virtual keyboards, which lets users write with gestures on the screen. The i1 boasts 201 minutes of talk time.
Mobile Burn has a hands-on review of the features and pictures of the i1 from CTIA here.
No pricing information for the device is available, though customers interested in Motorola i1 can pre-register for it here. However, the Motorola i1 offers such data capabilities that will require activation on a plan that includes unlimited data.
For that, Sprint touts its Everything Data 450 plan, which gives customers unlimited calling with any U.S. wireless user, unlimited nationwide texting, e-mail, Web browsing and GPS navigation for $69.99 per month.
The device may be in the middle of the pack price wise because it runs the Android 1.5 OS, making it ancient to those who have purchased or played with phones based on Android 1.6, such as the Motorola Devour or the Android 2.0-based Motorola Droid and the Android 2.1-based Google Nexus One.
The pre-announcement of the i1 does underscore how Sprint is ratcheting up its adoption of Android-based devices. Just last week, Sprint vowed to offer the Google Nexus One this year.