I discovered something neat. Nextel and Boost customers can download the Gmail Java application over the air (OTA) for free. No data cable needed. There are two ways to get it. Using your PC go to nextelmedia.sprintpcs.com. DON'T choose a phone yet! Gmail only works on MIDP 2 phones (the ones with 3 digits in the model name, i730, i855, etc.). There's a bug in the site where if you choose a compatible phone, Gmail won't be listed. You are OK if the screen says "No phone is selected..." in the top left. Next, search for gmail, click on the single result and enter you Nextel or Boost phone number. You will receive a Net Alert or WAP Push on your phone which when opened will launch the browser with instructions on how to use the Download Apps utility in your Java menu to download Gmail.
You can also go to the Nextel (not Boost) mobile homepage at http://uphpgen.adc.nexteldata.net/servlet/homepage (this url is only reachable from a Boost or Nextel phone) and then browse to: Downloads&Services/Applications-Download/Providers/Google/ As always on Nextel, you can't actually download from the browser, after you choose Gmail you will be instructed to go to Java Apps/Download to actually receive the file. For the convenience of Boost users I've added a link to the Nextel homepage on Yeswap.com in the the Technology/Mobile/Nextel folder.
The version of Gmail I downloaded this way was definitely customized for Nextel. Every time you start Gmail there's a message warning of data usage and asking you to contact Nextel regarding any connectivity issues. The Gmail icon in the Java menu, which was kind of distorted looking in the generic version of Gmail, looks better, too.
There is one annoyance I have with Gmail on Nextel. If you try to follow a url link within an email it will fail with a "Could not open Web address..." message. This supposedly works on other carriers. I think that the problem is that Gmail is calling the Java platformRequest() method to pass the url to the browser. On iDEN phones, platformRequest() is restricted to signed apps. I was hoping that Google had signed this special iDEN specific version of Gmail but I guess not as I still get the error. Still the Gmail Java app is a great way to read your email, MUCH faster than the mobile web and once it downloads your mail, you can continue reading the downloaded emails even if you have no signal like on the subway.
Google is doing some great stuff with mobile lately and I'm glad to see Nextel and Google working together to bring this app to their users over the air and for free. I'm hoping to eventually see a signed version so that following links in emails works. I'd also like to see GPS enabled version of Google Maps for Nextel someday.