Clad in a thick, rubberized coating, the Motorola i686 Brute is a great voice phone, reviewers say, but it doesn't offer much else. The handset is "one tough device," PhoneDog.com's Sydney Myers says, but otherwise it's "a little unsophisticated," as PCMag.com's Alex Colon notes.
The phone has a 2.2-inch color display with a resolution of 220 pixels by 176 pixels, which Colon says is "a little low-budget." CNET reviewer Nicole Lee praises the "spacious" keypad, and other experts say the raised buttons make it easy to dial, even with gloves on. Myers also likes the "interactive carousel of shortcuts" on the home screen and the Smart Button, which "anticipates the next action you are likely to perform."
The i686 has excellent reception, reviewers say, and sound quality is universally praised. While Lee's test results for battery life are almost identical to its rated five-plus hours, Colon reports a whopping 12.5 hours of continuous operation. The phone is equipped with push-to-talk technology that enables it to function as an intercom between users.
The Motorola i686 Brute's rugged appearance is matched by its durable performance in tests. PhoneDog.com's Myers drops it from a balcony, CNET's Lee submerges it in a bucket of water for 20 minutes, and PCMag's reviewers run over it with a car. Experts do have some complaints, including the Brute's non-standard 2.5 mm headphone jack, a 2-megapixel camera, a hard-to-remove battery cover, and a microSD slot that's expandable only to 8 GB. Colon cautions subscribers that this is not a good phone for email or web browsing because of Nextel's "sluggish" network. As an alternative, he recommends the Samsung Rugby II or the Sonim XP3300 Force.
The i686 is very similar to its predecessor, the Motorola i680, Nicole Lee says. Indeed, other than being "a touch more durable," she finds no significant improvement with the i686.
Review: Motorola Brute i686, Nicole Lee, Feb. 24, 2011
Although the Motorola Brute i686 is still "a good choice for Sprint users that need a rugged push-to-talk device," "it feels a few years old already," Alex Colon says. Nevertheless, he adds, it's "the best rugged [push-to-talk] option right now."
Review: Motorola Brute i686 (Sprint), Alex Colon, Feb. 24, 2011
Sydney Myers "dropped it, dunked it, and took it up to a second-floor balcony to watch it fall," leading her to judge the i686 to be "one tough phone." But she finds it "glitchy" and overpriced.
Review: Motorola Brute i686 Review, Sydney Myers, Feb. 25, 2011