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Nextel Service and My i85s Nextel Phone

Revised on

Originally posted on June 1st, 2002

If It Wasn't For The Free Incoming Unlimited Minutes. I'd...

Just a little story first

Cell phones... I've had about 15 different cell phones and as many services since cell phones debuted. Cellular One, Sprint, Pacbell Wireless, Cingular, you name it, I've had it.

One day Nextel caught my eye while walking from one clients office in downtown San Francisco to another. Actually, it was a little phone store that a couple of Russian guys run. I was pretty happy with my present cell phone provider (Sprint) at the time but I had a few minutes to kill while I was waiting for my client to get back from lunch and I popped in to this little 10x30 independent Nextel store.

The first thing that I saw was a brochure about ALL INCOMING MINUTES FREE FOR LIFE message on the counter. After talking to the salesman I decided to get a i85s phone and sign up with the service. After all was said and done the salesman told me that it would take 2 days to activate the phone (I found out later that you should run when you hear this). I sign some papers as to my phone charges but then something funny happened. The Salesman wanted my Drivers License and a Credit Card and he wanted to make a copy on a little copy machine... I told him that he ain't getting the credit card. I thought this was odd. He said he needed it, and I told him he didn't. A little bugged by this, I left to wait to hear from him when my phone was turned on.

The salesman calls me and since I was downtown again that day I walked right over. As soon as I get in the store, there's another guy there who starts ending every sentence with "my friend...". You know where this is going don't you. Well, my new friend hands me some documents to sign. I read all my documents so it took me a while to see some interesting text between the lines. Nextel says you can return your phone and cancel the contract within 30 days if you are not pleased. My new friend's documents say something a little different. His documents say that I have to keep my service on for 90 days and that there will be a hefty restocking charge for any equipment... I told the guy to shove it. Literally. I walked right out'a there and called Nextel to report this classic bait and switch.

Office Depot

After my experience at the independent Nextel provider, namely called All Wireless in downtown San Francisco, I wanted to deal directly with Nextel. My web fingers got on the Nextel site and found their authorized retailers. I quickly found Office Depot on their website. I drove down and found a cool looking Motorola i85s candybar style phone. I didn't want a standard flip clamshell phone because of the problems of having to open it while driving and the fact that you have a device that can wear out due in part to the fact that you're always opening and closing it.

Office Depot was running a special with $100 off the i85s so I picked one up and bunny hopped over to the counter to pose a few questions to the store manager about the above concerns I described above. He said if I didn't like the phone or the service, I could bring it back and he'd refund all my money. That's good enough for me, so like Clint Eastwood whips out his 6 shooter, I whipped out my credit card.


Per the instructions on the box (big yellow sticker on it) you call a 800 number and give your personal info to the operator to activate the phone right there in the comfort of your home. Nice. It's not two days like the dudes at All Wireless. I wonder what they were doing with my personal info and why did they tell me they needed two days to activate my phone if the standard way, direct from Nextel says all you have to do is call an 800 number to get it done. Hmmm...

Houston, we have a problem... After 2 hours of attempting to activate the i85s, the lady in the activation department could not get it to boot up. She had me punch in all kinds of code (most of which I wrote down hehehe) but nothing. After cell phone CPR fails, she tells me to take it back to Office Depot. Now I'm in the car thinking twice about the Nextel option. This reminds me of the old cell phone days when your phone stopped working and you had to call the tech support department and for hours if not days you would hope and pray to get your phone working only to be very disappointed with the whole process.

Well I get to the Office Depot and exchange it for another i85s. It was an easy exchange. I like buying/exchanging things at Office Depot. They're good to people in my opinion. I drive home with my new phone and call the activation department. After giving my personal information again (what a pain), they had my phone up and running in less than 20 minutes. Nice I thought.

The Eagle Has Landed

Generally, I like my little i85s. The operation is very nice. And the features are even better. The screen is very easy to read in the car at night and I really like the VoiceRecorder for jotting down quick notes. The standard battery lasts for about 2 hours of talk time and about 3 days standby. I picked up the extended battery and now I get 3 hours of talk and about a week of standby time. My favorite feature is the Speaker Phone. You can take a call in the car, punch the SPEAKER button on the menu LCD and set it on the passenger seat of your car and carry on a normal conversation, really. Everyone I talk to on the i85 has no idea that I'm on a cell phone speaker phone. This feature comes in really handy when I'm under a clients desk working on cables or the back of a computer in a really tight place and then a call comes in. I can answer the phone, hit SPEAKER and talk while still working on the pesky wire loom. Cool.

The i85 also comes with Java. No not your PC Desktop Java, but a trimmed down version specially made for portable devices like a cell phone. You can download applications direct from the web and install them on your phone with ease? What kind of applications you may ask? How about an application that constantly displays your talk time right on the main menu screen of your incoming minutes and your outgoing minutes. This comes in really handy for me, because I can better manage my usage and contract my own misuse of cell phone time. Nice.

Using it

I give my i85s stars and the Nextel coverage and service a dismal stars. I get kicked off about 2 or 3 times a day. It's bothersome. I'll be on the phone helping a client with something and then... dead silence. I will say that I was very surprised that my i85s works just fine in the elevators of San Francisco just fine. I don't know if that's the phone or the service signal or both, but it's nice.

All in all the Nextel service is pretty cool. The 2-way radio, the VoiceRecorder, the Speaker Phone and Java are all very nice bet the service and coverage and signal strength really isn't as good as a mainstream cell phone provider like Version or Sprint.





i85s Link
i85s Link