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printed July 31, 2014
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Review: Motorola i886

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My first impressions of the Motorola i886 were not good ones. The phone is bulky, feels a bit awkward to hold, and the slider mechanism is extremely loose. This leads the top half of the i886 to wobble to and fro, which makes the device feel weak and not rugged at all. There are buttons everywhere. It seems that no matter where you grip the i886, you're pressing something inadvertently. It also feels cheap. The back surface, covered in a soft-touch paint job, feels nice against your palm, though. Will it fit in your jeans pocket? Sure, but the bulk will be noticeable.

The front of the i886 features a full 12-key dialpad with a d-pad and other controls perched between the number pad and display. The number keys have a good shape to them and are easy to find, but have terrible travel and feedback; they barely move. The controls surrounding the d-pad aren't much better. There are three buttons on each side of the d-pad. The send/end keys protrude up from the surface, making them easier to find. The travel and feedback of all six of these keys is miserable, though. The d-pad is barely better. The keypad and controls are small enough so that they can't be used with gloved hands.

Motorola put the volume toggle on the left side of the i886. These buttons are easy to find and use, but feel amazingly cheap and plastic-y. Same goes for the large PTT button below it. On the right side, Motorola was kind enough to include a dedicated camera button. The port for microUSB cables is next to the camera button. It is covered by a small plastic hatch that requires the use of your thumbnail to peel off. The i886 has a speakerphone key placed on the top edge, and a 3.5mm headset jack sits next to it. The jack is also protected by a hatch.

The slider mechanism is loose enough that it is easy to open and close the i886 with one hand. There is a little bit of spring assistance, but it isn't really necessary. In fact, it's loose enough that you can snap the slider open by flicking your wrist. When open, the i886 offers a four-row keyboard. They keys have minimal shape to them, but there's enough so that your thumb can tell when it has moved from one key to the next. The keys are covered in a grippy soft-touch surface. I didn't care for the typing feel of the keyboard, though, as the letter keys suffer from the same minimalist travel and feedback issue as the dialpad. The keyboard offers dedicated arrow keys for on-screen navigation, but they are a duplicated effort with the d-pad easily accessible. Thankfully, the period and comma get their own keys, and the keyboard also has a menu key, and a messaging shortcut key.

It's nearly impossible to remove the battery cover without accidentally pressing at least one button. Be sure to lock the i886 first (press and hold the menu key). The microSD card is accessible without removing the battery.

 

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