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Motorola Brute i680

>> Thursday, January 28, 2010

Motorola Brute i680 should be able to withstand just about anything you can throw at it. It's large (3.92 inches tall by 2.09 inches wide by 1 inch deep), heavy (5.63 ounces), and is covered in a tough plastic and rubber skin. Indeed, the handset feels very solid in the hand and the sturdy hinge ensures that it opens and shuts with authority. We dropped the handset onto a concrete floor and even threw it across the room onto carpet. Both times, there wasn't a scratch and the phone kept on ticking.

Sure, the black and gray color scheme screams industrial, but this a device built for brawn over beauty. The external display is a bit bigger than a postage stamp, but it supports 65.000 colors (160x120 pixels). It supports photo caller ID, displays your recently called phone numbers, and doubles as a viewfinder for the camera. Speaking of which, the lens sits just above next to the flash. We'd prefer to have a camera shutter control on the phone's exterior, but one is not available.

On the top of the phone you'll find a speakerphone control and the standard Nextel button for accessing your recent calls list. Between them is a headset jack, which, unfortunately, is 2.5 mm (we prefer a standard 3.5mm jack). On the left spine are the volume rocker and push to talk (PTT) control. Both are large and easy to find by feel. We were glad to see that Moto included a Micro-USB port for both the charger and a USB cable. You'll find it on the right spine behind a secure rubber flap. Motorola Brute i680 is water resistant so the rear battery cover is secured by a locking mechanism.

You'll also need to remove it to access the microSD card slot. Moto doesn't include an unlocking tool in the box, but you should be able to use your fingernail. The Brute also is certified to the standard military specifications for elements like dust, shock and vibration, high and low temperature, and salt fog. The internal display measures 2.2 inches and supports 65.000 colors (220x176 pixels). Though its resolution isn't exactly eye popping, it's perfectly suitable for this caliber of phone.

Colors were bright and graphics and photos show up well. You can change the text size and the backlight time. We were glad that unlike many previous Nextel phones, Motorola Brute i680 offers a one page menu interface in a list or icon style. The spacious navigation is extremely user friendly with all controls raised above the surface of the phone. There are four directional controls with a central OK button, a dedicated menu key, two soft keys, a camera shortcut and the Talk and End or power keys.

The only thing missing is a dedicated back button. In standby mode, the up and down directional buttons open the settings menu and the recent calls list respectively; the side buttons let you cycle through the shortcut icons that sit on the display. They keypad buttons are spacious and tactile. We could text and dial quickly and we appreciate the large backlit numbers on the buttons.


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