On June 15th, 2008, my prayers were finally answered by Sprint with the release of four new qchat phones to the general public. Like many other Nextel users out there, I find the direct connect feature to be essential and cannot live without it. At the same time, I need the increased voice and data coverage offered by Sprint’s CDMA network. I purchased the Motorola IC902 thinking that it would be the solution for my needs. I quickly released that it was not, and I was very disappointed with the lack of the 850mhz band, the constant lockups, and overall sluggishness of the phone. (Insert just your basic criticism of hybrids here) So on June 15th, I went out and upgraded to a Sanyo Pro 700 (I will be ebaying my IC902 next week). The transaction was simple and took less than five minutes at my local Sprint store. They had confirmed that I was in fact the only person to ask for the phone and that it was likely the only one in northern Virginia. (I had called over 10 stores looking for it… yes, I’m a cell phone junkie). They were able to activate the phone on the spot, but they recommended that I call CS to set up the D/C because the rep was afraid she would mess up my SERO plan (Thank you for being honest). The activation of the D/C feature was not as simple. In total, I spent roughly two hours on the phone with Sprint CS. Believe it or not, I was on the phone with one outstanding rep for the majority of the time. Apparently she had to conduct a lot of research and talk with a lot of higher ups to find out how to activate the phone. She initially thought I was trying to activate ReadyLink, but I quickly explained the differences between iden, qchat, and readylink and how I was trying to activate D/C on a qchat device. By the end of the conversation, she admitted that they had received absolutely no training on these phones and that she had only seen it once during a training session a few months prior. She eventually was able to activate the D/C (at no additional charge per month) and I was able to use the feature about three minutes later. The phone (Sanyo Pro 700) has just been absolutely fantastic to use compared to the IC902. My honeymoon/glow/new phone syndrome phase is over and I’m still very pleased with the device. The phone is fast, fast, fast! I can fly through the menus and I’ve had no problems with the device freezing and other Motorola-esque idiosyncrasies. I was able to install Gmail, Google Maps, and Opera without the slightest problem. It was also very refreshing to be able to use 850mhz roaming once again (even though it account for less than 5% of my overall usage, I find it essential to have). Qchat is definitely not iDen, but I have not been disappointed and I firmly believe it is a comparable technology. The initial connect speeds are really about the same (still less than one second to connect). The youtube video that many of you have seen where they demonstrate the connect speeds is accurate. The only noticeable difference is that there is a slight delay of the voice with qchat (if you were standing next to the other person, it’s about a one second delay). I would say it’s similar to the difference between Direct Connect with iDen and Direct Talk (Off-Network W/T). Anyone who has used the two would know what I’m talking about. As for the quality, I would say the voice quality is about the same with qchat. My coworkers claim that I sound the same and they don’t notice a difference but I swear the voice quality sounds just the slightest bit lower with qchat. I’d also like to mention that I’ve had no problems communicating with people on iden. Coverage is not the same for qchat and iden devices. Anyone considering these new devices needs to keep this in mind. Qchat D/C will ONLY work in Sprint EVDO areas and it will not work if you are roaming on another carrier (Alltel, for example). Voice coverage is the same as any Sprint phone. This is all I have time to say at the moment. If anyone has any questions about the device or qchat, let me know and I’ll try to answer them to the best of my ability!