A flip-phone notable for its small size, unusual metallic finish and advanced traveling features. These include A-GPS visual and audible driving directions system, a voice recorder that captures memos and phone conversations for playback later, and International Direct Connect, which provides near-instantaneous digital walkie-talkie connections between users in the United States, Brazil, Argentina and Peru as well as between users in the United States and Canada (Mexico should be added sometime during the Summer of 2004).
The i830's gadget-like appearance fits its high-tech personality. Many recent designs try to appear expensive and sophisticated by mixing low-contrast silvers and greys; the effect usually fails and they end up looking like cheap plastic. Motorola's designers took a different route, choosing to mimic the style of notebook computers by mixing metallic finishes with black plastic. The handset comes in a choice of two color schemes: silver with contrasting black edges, antenna and accents, or bronze with black, which is strikingly different from any other phone on the market -- you will either love it or hate it. The unit is exceptionally small when folded, and the external display, situated near the bottom of the face and surrounded by more black plastic, only reinforces the notebook look.
Advanced features and mini-gadget appearance aside, the Motorola i830 is a run-of-the-mill cellphone and organizer with minimal Web browsing capability and all the usual extras. The 65,000-color screen is easy to read, but this is nothing outstanding for a phone in the US$300 range. The contact book can hold 600 entries -- which is higher than many, less than a few, and probably more than anyone needs -- and the datebook and calendar are adequate, but can't sync with your desktop or PDA software. The provision of GPS sets this phone above many current rivals, and the Profiles feature, which allows the user to adjust a host of settings with a few touches of a button, is a useful addition.
Who will benefit most from owing a Motorola i830? Road warriors who rely on calling more than e-mail, and cross borders routinely. Person-to-person calling and GPS assisted-travel are exceptionally well-supported by this phone. If you can't do your job without e-mail, then a BlackBerry is a better bet. Private individuals who rely on their cellphone for personal use rather than business can probably find another model that does their favorite things better or cheaper. The one exception to this last statement concerns size: if you love or really need a tiny phone, the i830's price might not be too steep.