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In a nutshell, the motorola Nextel i580 is the world's toughest multimedia phone. It makes reliable phone calls, plays MP3s like a boom box, and shrugs off shocks that would destroy lesser phones. It's expensive, but worth the price.

In the past, Nextel's phones have gone two ways—either rugged but basic, like the redoubtable i355, or powerful but less durable, like the i930 smartphone. The i580 makes no compromises, starting with durability: At 3.8 by 2.2 by 1.1 inches and 5.1 ounces, it's built like an 18-wheeler. Keys are pretty big and well separated. The monochrome, one-line external display shows Caller ID just fine, and the bright 262,000-color, 176-by-220 internal screen looks good even in sunlight.

I decided to find out just how rugged the i580 really is. Dropping it on concrete and even spiking it on a tile floor like a football didn't seem to hurt it any, though the phone does flip open when it hits the ground. Then I stuck the handset in the freezer for about 3 hours. It turned on, slowly, and reported that it had no battery. Amazingly, the phone returned to normal operation when the battery thawed. Next, I took it outside into 100-degree heat and then threw it from a second-story window onto concrete. The battery door popped off, but other than that, the phone was okay. Once I put the battery back in, the phone worked fine, with only a minor scratch in the corner of the case. Since it had hit the ground pretty hard, I decided to wash it off in the sink. The water-resistant i580 shrugged the cool spray off like a duck.

Okay, what can actually kill the i580? To make a point, I stuck the tough little phone under the wheel of a Saturn Sky roadster, which weighs about 2,680 pounds. Eight wheels later (two rolls forward and back), I'd managed to crack the i580's LCD screens—but astonishingly, the phone still worked! I could make calls, Direct Connect, and even use the camera.

The i580's durability is even more impressive because it's a really good phone. The speaker is extremely loud and unusually clear when making calls outdoors and doing Direct Connect. Push-to-talk sounds positively gorgeous. Indoors, you can hear a little bit of background hiss in the earpiece. The phone connected to Plantronics bluetooth headsets easily, and you can trigger voice dialing over Bluetooth (though voice dialing relies on recorded tags and is not speaker-independent.) Also, since the phone is designed for loud environments, ringtone volume and vibrate power will literally knock your socks off. Battery life was solid, too. The i580 yielded 7 and a half hours of talk time.

The built-in MP3 player uses a pretty handsome interface, playing MP3-format songs off a microSD card (a 64MB card is included) through the powerful speaker. It's quite audible outdoors. Unfortunately, you can't assign your MP3s as ringtones, but that's the usual deal for most U.S. phones. A 1.3-megapixel camera takes somewhat dim, soft photos. Low-light performance isn't outstanding, but it's not awful for a cameraphone. The video mode captures the usual 176-by-144, 15-frames-per-second cameraphone videos, up to 10 seconds long.

The i580 also does well at geekier uses: It has no problem transferring photos to and from PCs and Macs over Bluetooth. On my tests, I discovered that the phone will also work as a Bluetooth laptop modem for both PCs and Macs, though at dreadfully slow speeds, around 20 Kbps. Nextel packs in a few other nifty features here, too: Java Web browsing, GPS location services, its off-network Direct Talk walkie-talkie system, and the ability to download its Mobile Email Enhanced client, for example.

The Nextel i580 sets a new standard for Nextel, bringing together maximal features and rock-solid durability. Sure, you'll pay extra for that. If all you need is a purely voice-oriented rugged phone, the i355 will certainly suffice.


  1. manung36  

    November 6, 2008 at 2:19 AM

    very useful post bro! Harun Azis Free Drink Recipes many thanks before

  2. Dan1658  

    November 9, 2008 at 9:37 AM

    I kind of like this model also but I will still be shopping around. Thanks for the info.

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