Motorola Q9 / 9h with WM6 Standard

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INTRODUCTION

    Since the original
Motorola Q was launched on Verizon, the Qwerty-bar
phone genre has become pretty popular. The
Qwerty-bar is defined as a landscape
style screen,
navigation hardware buttons, and a small thumb
keyboard in a flat candy-bar type form-factor. Most
of these devices evolved from the old Blackberry
devices yet run Windows Mobile instead. Now, Motorola has a new Q for you to view, the Q9, often called the 9h. It runs on GSM networks and has UMTS and HSDPA. Is it a worthy successor to the popular Q? Read on for the thorough review!

WHAT’S HOT

    My favorite thing about the Motorola Q9h
is the keyboard. It’s got a great tactile feel and
soft-touch buttons. The Q9h also has Bluetooth 2.0, a 330MHz TI IMAP 2420,
Windows Mobile
6 Standard,
2.4" 320 x 240px 64K color screen, Quadband GSM/EDGE,
2100Mhz UMTS/HSDPA and a 2MP camera. The extra
RAM and ROM are very welcome additions as is the
fast processor.

Device
Size (inches)
Weight (grams | ounces)
4.44" x 2.47" x 0.52"

132 | 4.65
4.44" x 2.27" x 0.63"

156 | 5.61
4.74" x 2.63" x 0.43"

157 | 5.53
4.33" x 2.09" x 0.59"

117 | 4.12
4.66" x 2.48" x 0.47"

130 | 4.58
4.56" x 2.33" x 0.67"

188 | 6.63
4.64" x 2.36" x 0.48"

129 | 4.55
3.96" x 2.34" x 0.67"

133 | 4.76
4.68" x 2.44" x 0.67"

188 | 6.63
4.58" x 2.42" x 0.47"

120 | 4.20
4.56" x 2.33" x 0.65"

178 | 6.28
3.92" x 2.41" x 0.60"

137 | 4.83
4.24" x 2.09" x 0.53"

117 | 4.12
4.17" x 2.00" x 0.85"

151 | 5.34
4.41" x 2.24" x 0.49"

122 | 4.30
4.57" x 1.70" x 0.64"

140 | 4.94
4.88" x 2.44" x 0.53"

130 | 4.56
4.21" x 2.20" x 0.55"

120 | 4.20
4.53" x 2.47" x 0.47"

146 | 5.15
4.63" x 2.19" x 0.67"

158 | 5.57
4.35" x 2.07" x 0.67"

158 | 5.57
4.56" x 2.41" x 0.51"

125 | 4.41
4.44" x 2.36" x 0.55"

133 | 4.69
4.01" x 1.98" x 0.55"

124 | 4.37
8.28" x 4.67" x 1.08"

640 | 22.5
4.48" x 2.52" x 0.59"

154 | 5.43
4.17" x 2.38" x 0.68"

147 | 5.18
4.01" x 2.00" x 0.71"

165 | 5.82
4.41" x 2.24" x 0.49"

122 | 4.30
4.41" x 2.28" x 0.73"

140 | 4.94
4.01" x 2.00" x 0.45"

110 | 3.88
4.56" x 2.36" x 0.70"
200 | 7.05
4.30" x 2.40" x 0.60"
120 | 4.23
4.20" x 2.30" x 0.60"
136 | 4.79
3.70" x 2.30" x 0.60"
126 | 4.44
4.48" x 2.39" x 0.51"
116 | 4.09
4.60" x 2.60" x 0.50"

134 | 4.70

4.10" x 2.10" x 0.60"
150 | 5.30
4.40" x 2.32" x 0.75"
190 | 6.70

WHAT’S IN
THE BOX

    The Motorola Q9h comes with a USB sync cable, AC
adapter, stereo headphones with talk button/mic/volume
control, software CD,
manual, Quick-start guide, and a 512Mb MicroSD card
with SD Card adapter.

This is everything you get in the
box.

The Q9h itself arrives covered in
adhesive protective plastic.

THE DEVICE
   

The Motorola Q9h looks pretty big
compared to some of the other devices out there now.
Of course the larger width does make for a nicer
keyboard layout.

    The keyboard on the Q9h is very
comfortable. Its material is similar to the keyboard
on the T-Mobile Wing. You’ve also got some shortcut
keys on the bottom row for Calendar, Contacts, Media
Player, Camera, and well the speaker button doesn’t
do anything. Actually (after consulting the manual),
if you’re in a call, the speaker button turns on
speakerphone. Very nice. On the other hand, the
shift key is located on the right side instead of
the left, and there’s no delete key. You have to use
the Back button as a backspace key.

    Thanks to the ambient light
sensor, the keyboard buttons backlight comes on when
it’s dark and you’re pressing buttons. Also if it’s
very bright out, the ambient light sensor adjusts
the brightness of the screen to retain readability.
The early iPaq H3600 Pocket PCs from 7 years ago
also had this feature and it’s a shame that all
manufacturers do not implement it.

The left side of the Q shows only
the proprietary synchronization and audio connector.

This is the only connector. If you
want to play music on your car stereo, you’ll have
to get an A2DP Bluetooth Adapter.

At the bottom, you’ll see nothing
but shiny black plastic.

The right side has a back button,
as well as two up and down buttons with an action
button in the middle. While it’s not a jog wheel,
it’s okay for scrolling through emails and
performing minimal navigation.

The top end has more shiny black
plastic and a small slit for the speaker presumably.

On the back is the 2 Megapixel
camera with flash, speaker
grill, and battery cover.
All of this is a rubberized non-slip material which
feels very nice in the hand.

Beneath the battery cover is the
3.7V 1170mAh Lithium Ion battery. To the right you
can see the SIM slot, and on the left you can see a
thin black screen covering two stereo speakers.

The MicroSD card has it’s own slot
on the side of the device. The
slot is covered by a little rubber flap. It was
pretty difficult to figure out how to open it at
first. Also good luck figuring out which way the
MicroSD card goes in. It will take some trial and
error or a quick consultation with the manual.

 

 Here you’ll see from left to right, HTC P3300, T-Mobile Wing, the Qtek 8500 Smartphone, and the Motorola Q9h.

Here you can see a
comparison of the thickness. On top is the
Motorola Q9h, then the Qtek 8500,
the HTC P3300, and T-Mobile Wing. While the Q9h is quite thin, it’s
much longer and wider than these other devices.



INTEGRATED SOFTWARE

   The Motorola Q9h includes Windows
Mobile 6 as well as a number of interesting custom
enhancements.

The Today screen doesn’t show much customization.
The row of small icons at the top represents
recently used applications, but unfortunately,
unlike the Dash, does not show any text to indicate
what the selected icon represents.

Pressing the “Start” softkey button on the home
screen brings you to the programs listing. You can add applications to Speed dial
here, but created Voice Tags for applications is not
supported.

    The first thing I noticed was that the Opera browser
was included as the default browser in the Motorola
Q9h. Opera supports many more options that make it
superior to Internet Explorer Mobile including
multiple browser windows, download manager, plug-in
support, etc.  However, Opera does not
synchronize with my Mobile Favorites on the desktop.

The Wireless Manager handles Phone and Bluetooth
radio power settings. This is similar to the
Communications manager found in most HTC devices,
except with much fewer options.

The Bluetooth Manager is
much different than the default stack normally
provided by Microsoft.

    This Bluetooth stack supports the following
profiles: Hands-free, Headset, A/V Headset, File
Transfer, Object Push, Basic Printing, Basic
Imaging, Personal Area Networking, Serial Port,
Human Interface Device, Synchronization, Dial-up
Networking, and Phone Book Access.  Another
extremely cool feature showed up when I plugged the
Q9h into my desktop’s USB port. The Motorola
Bluetooth software I have on my desktop recognized
the Q9h as supporting profiles that my USB bluetooth
adapter also supports and asked me if I want to
create a pairing to set the device up. I created one
and activated bluetooth Activesync without any
trouble at all. It was very easy.

You can also easily route all audio through a
Hands-free headset.

There’s even some interesting Bluetooth software
programs included.

The Bluetooth PC Remote is an interesting
application that lets you control the Desktop, Media
Player, or Powerpoint from your phone. I tried
controlling Media Center with the PC Remote in Media
Player mode and it worked quite nicely.

The Bluetooth Send Object application lets you send
multiple files to other Bluetooth devices.

    The phone dialer screen that shows up when you press
the talk button (or start typing in numbers on the
home screen) is nothing like that of Pocket PC
Phones. This screen immediately shows the list of
recent calls that you can easily select from as well.
It’s not much different from the Windows Mobile 5.0
version, except that now you can access and search
the “Company Directory” as part of Exchange Server.

    When using the number pad to type
out a persons name or dial a number from the Today
screen or Phone Dialer, the possible letter combinations
are searched and resulting names are displayed
below. Once the name you want is selected, press the
Talk button the phone will dial away. This is
probably the easiest and fastest way to dial a
contact. It’s also the easiest way to send a Text
message to some one.

   
When you’re in a call, the screen shows the time
connected along with the caller’s photo, name and
number. The menu button gives you access to
pertinent commands like turning on speakerphone,
hands-free, hold, etc.

The Messaging application also
uses Contact photos for emails and text messages.
With Windows Mobile 6, emails can now appear in HTML
format while also loading images inline with the
message.

While it’s not as much as a pain in Windows Mobile 6
Standard compared to Professional, the “New” message
button has traded places with the Delete key making
it a bit more difficult to write new messages.

    Windows Mobile 6 offers
suggestions not only for words as you type, but
complete phrases. As you can see in the above screen
shot, I didn’t even start typing the 3rd word, but
it made a suggestion already. The phrase suggestions
are based on phrases that you have typed before thus
making frequently used phrases extremely easy to
enter. If you want to accept the next word
suggested, you have to press the right arrow key on
the directional pad.

    The menu in the Messaging application has been
condensed significantly for Landscape screen
orientations. There’s a great feature in the Messaging
application that lets you copy selected text
messages to your SIM card. This is useful
if you switch your SIM card into new phones a lot.
Unfortunately, the feature does not work with Text
Messages in your Sent Folder.

    Pocket MSN has been replaced by Windows Live. It’s
not a terribly useful program since it mostly just
points to Windows Live Messenger and your Windows
Live email account in the Messaging application,
however it does give you options for syncing your
Windows Live Contacts, Messenger Contacts, and
email. Of special interest is the fact that you can
set email syncing options to “As items arrive”. 
That means you’ve got free push email with a Windows
Live or Hotmail mail account. 

MSN Messenger has been replaced by Windows Live
Messenger. You’ve got a ton of new features here. It
now displays contact photos, links to MSN Spaces,
shows tabs at the bottom for conversations, etc.

    The coolest new feature is the “Voice Clips”. 
When your in a chat window you can press the “Voice
Clip” button as the left softkey. It immediately
starts recording your voice, and pressing the left
softkey again sends the message. Unfortunately, like
most things related to the buggy new Windows Live
Messenger, it does not always work. Your mileage may
very.

Thankfully, the MMS account on the
Q9h is not integrated with the text messaging
account like on HTC manufactured devices.

    Media Player syncs with Windows
Media Center just like any other Windows Mobile
device, but unlike the Professional version, you can actually navigate the Library
view using the hardware buttons! Also, a new
surprise in the Windows Mobile 6 version of Windows
Media Player is the ability to search the library.
Notice how if I type something in the Library view,
all of the songs that may match what I’m typing show
up. While it’s not as much fun as flipping through
“Cover Flow” animations on an Apple iPhone, this
makes finding a particular song VERY easy especially
if you don’t remember the name of the artist or
album. 

You can use the Pictures & Videos application to
take your portfolio or family photos with you where
ever you go.

Even though Opera is included as the default,
Internet Explorer Mobile is also included, but it’s
hidden in the “System Tools” folder. It also doesn’t
even work by default. You’ll have to go into the
Menu>Tools>Options>Connections settings in order to
turn on “Automatically Detect Settings”.

The System Tools folder hides some useful options.

The Calendar application is has been updated nicely.
The Day view now shows an animated “ribbon” at the
top showing the time slots for each appointment
listed below.

The File Manager seems to be a customized version
and not the default Windows Mobile version.
Motorola’s version allows you to select multiple
files. Very nice!

A Network Wizard is included to help set-up the
proper settings for your operator. Unfortunately in
my version there were no settings for North American
operators.

A Java Apps Manager is included for running Java Apps.

One thing I miss is that the Windows Mobile 5.0
Smartphone edition does not synchronize with the
Notes in Outlook 2003. Instead it’s only got this
very limited Voice Notes application where you can
record voice memos.

    Instead of including the new Microsoft Office
programs that come with Windows Mobile 6 Standard,
the Motorola Q9h includes “Documents to Go”. This is
not a bad thing since the Documents to Go suite
actually has the ability to create new documents
which is more than you can say for the WM6 Standard
version of Office Mobile. The Suite also has a PDF
viewer and ZIP file opener.

In the Documents to Go suite there’s a Selection
Mode that you can use to select, copy/cut, and paste
items.

Zip To Go lets you open Compressed ZIP archives that
you may receive in email or download from the web.

PDF to Go is just a basic Adobe PDF viewer. The
problem with these mobile viewers is they often
don’t load the fonts correctly even if they were
embedded in the PDF during creation.

Of course you get the standard Windows Mobile games.

ActiveSync lets you configure an Exchange Server to
sync with. You can also sync via Bluetooth from
here. If I wasn’t already connected to ActiveSync,
the above menu options would not be grayed out.

There’s a “Task Manager” in
the system tools. You can
use this to close certain programs instead of
letting Windows Mobile manage your memory by itself.

A strange “Media Center” application is included in
order to help give you access to Images, Videos,
Audio, Games and Apps. It essentially searches your
device for those types of files/media and gives you
a listing of them.

An installer for McAfee VirusScan Mobile is included
as well. There aren’t really any viruses for Windows
Mobile, so I don’t see any reason to install this.
It will probably just take up resources and slow you
down.

A VPN program is included to help with connection to
Virtual Private Networks. I’m sure this will be a
welcome edition for the business users.

    No smartphone would be complete without some kind of
Voice Recognition software. While many Windows
Mobile devices include Microsoft’s Voice Command
these days, the Motorola Q9h includes VoiceSignal
2.1.  It’s not as integrated as Microsoft Voice
Command and doesn’t support Media Player, Calendar,
etc., but it uses menus in addition to speech and
works quite well for calling people. It also works
well through the Bluetooth headset. My first
impression is that it is certainly more accurate
than Microsoft Voice Command.

The camera application is very basic and doesn’t
even use the full screen as a viewfinder.



HELP SUPPORT

   
Motorola offers very very
limited support for the Q9 on

their website
currently.

I think the majority of the support for this device
is supposed to be handled by the carriers.

BUGS AND WISHES

   

 Since
Motorola decided to do some significant
customizations that veered away from the default
Windows Mobile 6 install base, a number of things
were broken, but overall the modifications are
actually better. For example the Voice Recognition
software doesn’t announce appointments, or text
messages, or caller names, but it does a much better
job of recognizing dialing commands.  It
doesn’t come with Microsoft Office Mobile, but it
does come with DocumentsToGo which is a more
feature-rich solution. So it’s hard to find fault in
the customizations that Motorola put into the Q9h.

    
Although, as with Windows Mobile 5.0 Smartphones, I hate how incoming text messages do not
display the actual message on the screen right away.
All it does is play a sound and then you have to
press the right softkey “Message” in order to read it. With a
Pocket PC Phone, all I have to do is glance at the
screen to read the message… I can do that while
driving if it’s mounted on my dashboard. Not so with
the Smartphone.

     Now while
the keyboard is one of the best I’ve seen on a
Qwertybar device, I don’t like that the Shift key is
only located on the right side. I use the left Shift
key almost exclusively and it’s a bit of a pain not
having one there. It also takes some getting used to
not having a backspace key on the keyboard (you have
to use the back button instead.)
 

     Lastly, while the shiny plastic
certainly does look great, it also attracts finger
print smudges and dust very easily. The little slot
at the top where the handset speaker is located is a
very nice place for dirt and dust to get into. 

PURCHASING

   

The Motorola Q9h

can be ordered through

Negri Electronics
for
$585.50.
ThTake note however that the European version uses the
2100Mhz band
and HSDPA may not work on North American networks (when HSDPA comes around in a few months/years).

PROS



  • Thumb keyboard feels great
  • Lots of memory and storage



  • Software additions are superior to
    Microsoft’s own versions (DocumentsToGo,
    Opera, VoiceSignal, Bluetooth)
  • Quadband 850/900/1800/1900mhz GSM/EDGE
    with 3G UMTS 2100Mhz



  • Great speakerphone


  • Thumb keyboard feels great
  • Lots of memory and storage



  • Software additions are superior to
    Microsoft’s own versions (DocumentsToGo,
    Opera, VoiceSignal, Bluetooth)
  • Quadband 850/900/1800/1900mhz GSM/EDGE
    with 3G UMTS 2100Mhz



  • Great speakerphone


  • Thumb keyboard feels great
  • Lots of memory and storage



  • Software additions are superior to
    Microsoft’s own versions (DocumentsToGo,
    Opera, VoiceSignal, Bluetooth)
  • Quadband 850/900/1800/1900mhz GSM/EDGE
    with 3G UMTS 2100Mhz



  • Great speakerphone

CONS

  • Annoying
    start up and shut down sounds
  • No GPS
  • No WiFi
  • Shiny
    plastic attracts finger smudges and dust
  • AT&T,
    T-Mobile USA 3G versions sold separately
Value
Ease
of Use
Features

Overall

What
do these ratings mean
?


OVERALL IMPRESSION

    The three best things about the Motorola
Q9h are the keyboard, the ambient light sensor for
automatic screen brightness/backlight control, and
the custom software additions
. It’s also a
pretty nice looking device. The Bluetooth
implementation is great and wireless headsets work
much better here than on other devices. If you’re a fan
of the Qwerty-bar form factor and want a great keyboard, the Motorola Q9h is
definitely worth a look. A thank you to Negri Electronics for providing us with the unit.




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About The Author
Adam Z. Lein
Adam has had interests in combining technology with art since his first use of a Koala pad on an Apple computer. He currently has a day job as a graphic designer, photographer, systems administrator and web developer at a small design firm in Westchester, NY. His love of technology extends to software development companies who have often implemented his ideas for usability and feature enhancements. Mobile computing has become a necessity for Adam since his first Uniden UniPro PC100 in 1998. He has been reviewing and writing about smartphones for Pocketnow.com since they first appeared on the market in 2002.Read more about Adam Lein!