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printed October 2, 2014
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Review: Motorola i1

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The Motorola i1 is a semi-ruggedized Android device that has appealing looks and a reasonably good set of features. It is solid in the hand though a little bit on the weighty side. Overall it feels good. There are rubber bumpers on the top and bottom corners of the device that give it a little bit of toughness. There's a soft-touch paint job on the back that makes the i1 feel grippy. It's one of Motorola's better designs of late. Its size presents no problems when shoving it into a pocket, but the rubber top and bottom edges slow down the process of pressing it in and pulling it out.

The front of the i1 has a large touchscreen and below the screen are four capacitive buttons: Menu, Home, Back and, oddly, Speakerphone. There are physical Send and End keys, which are placed on either side of a circular D-pad. It is nice to have these physical buttons. They are useful if you want to quickly jump to the phone application. The travel and feedback of these keys is quite good and the D-pad has a nice feel to it. I really like the way Motorola designed it.

On the top left side of the i1 there is a volume toggle. It's a little on the small side, problematic if you're wearing gloves, but it's covered in rubber and is easily found there. There are two distinct buttons for the volume up and volume down functions and they work well.

Below that is the large direct connect button used for push-to-talk calls. It is easily found even if you are wearing gloves. It has excellent travel and feedback, with a clearly defined "click."

On the right side we have the microUSB port hiding under a rubber flap and above that we have a two-stage camera key. The camera key works quite well. Both stages are clearly defined for focusing and shooting a picture.

Above the camera key is a sliding switch that is used to lock the battery cover and back plate of the phone in place. You have to place the battery cover on the phone, press it firmly and then slide the switch that locks and seals it up pretty good. This helps prevent moisture and dust ingress into the phone.

The screen lock key is placed on the top edge of the i1 and it is covered in rubber. There also is a rubber hatch covering the headset jack, which disappointingly is 2.5mm instead of 3.5mm. This means you'll need to use an adapter with your regular set of stereo headphones.

Once unlocked, peeling the battery cover off is a little bit of a chore. You do have to slide your fingernails firmly underneath the edge of the battery plate and pull. Once you get that off, the battery is easily removed, as is the SIM card and microSD slot. The card can be removed while the phone is on, so hot swapping is possible and that's always nice.

In all, I like the design of the Motorola i1. It's not elegant nor refined, but that's OK. It's a phone that will survive the daily dose of abuse that cell phones are forced to live through.

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