Motorola i1 Joins Sprint Push-to-Talk Lineup

Sprint Nextel introduces the Motorola i1, the first Android-running smartphone on its Direct Connect push-to-talk network.

The Motorola i1 melds expected smartphone features with business-geared applications and military-spec ruggedness. There's Android 1.5, a 3.1-inch HVGA touch screen with a virtual keypad, a 5-megapixel camera with flash and video capabilities, WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, and built-in GPS-which can be used to geo-tag images, or paired with Sprint's Mobile Locator application to track and locate employees.

Other business applications, available through Sprint partners, include an Android version of the Xora TimeTrack workforce management solution, which allows for signature capture, photo barcode scanning, and the automating of payroll and other workflow processes.

Microsoft's Document Viewer is also included, so users can sync and access Word and PowerPoint files, and an Opera Mini 5 browser makes for easy Web browsing of Flash 8-enabled sites. Over the phone's WiFi connection, users can download business-geared apps from Google's Android Market, and there's also access to social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Then there are those military specs. Per Sprint, the Motorola i1 is compliant with Military Specification 810F-which means it should keep working in blowing rain, under extreme temperatures and dusty conditions, on bumpy rides, and even in salt fog and high humidity.

"Motorola i1 is the only Android device to offer Nextel Direct Connect as well as the latest smartphone features and the ability to withstand some of the harshest environments," Fared Adib, Sprint vice president of product development, said in a July 19 statement. "This phone brings a new level of smartphone to our Nextel customers, making it one of the most efficient devices to get work done, and our customers who rely on Direct Connect will appreciate this feature-packed phone that doesn't miss on must-have features such as WiFi and a 5-megapixel camera."

With Direct Connect on the i1, users can see who's calling, even when using e-mail, calendar or other applications.

The Motorola i1 will get a soft rollout July 25, selling through Sprint sales channels, telesales and Web sales for $149.99, with a $50 mail-in rebate and a two-year service agreement. Come Aug. 8, it'll be available through all Sprint sales channels.

And because Sprint prides itself these days on its award-winning customer service, the i1 comes with Sprint's "Free Guarantee"-a satisfaction-guaranteeing policy that lets users return a phone within 30 days for a full refund, with all fees and taxes waived.

In addition, Sprint currently offers the only 4G-enabled phone in the United States, the HTC Evo 4G. However, shortages of the device, due to a dearth of parts on the supplier side, is hurting the carrier's ability to secure new customers while it still holds the competitive advantage of being aligned with the nation's only 4G network, through the WiMax-based Clearwire.

Editor's Note: This has been updated to correct the Motorola i1's operating system to Android 1.5.