Also unlike Samsung's new i780, Motorola has stuck with the non-touchscreen version of Windows Mobile 6 (Standard) for the Q 9h. It's not pretty to look at, but it still does the job reasonably well. More importantly, Motorola has included a series of very useful extras with the handset. I'm not too sure that McAfee's mobile virus scan product is a strictly necessary inclusion. Leaving it in Live Scan mode also drains the battery quicker than you can say, but no major threats have materialised yet targeting Windows Mobile, but it offers peace of mind if nothing else. And even if you turn Live Scan off, it will scan email as it comes in and you can set it to carry out a daily or weekly scan instead.
Instead of the bizarrely hobbled version of Office Mobile that you usually get with Windows Mobile Standard devices - where you can edit documents but not create new ones - the Q 9h includes a copy of DataViz's superlative Documents To Go. In addition to allowing document creation, this is actually a much more powerful mobile office suite than Office Mobile, and it's a big improvement over the view-only software you get with the Blackberry phones too. The only downside is that it doesn't support the .docx documents and other Office 2008 formats.
There's also the full version of Opera Mobile included - I actually prefer the free Opera Mini 4.1, but this is still better than the ineffectual Microsoft mobile browser and offers full end-to-end encryption for online shopping, banking and the like. And there's a whole host of other utilities to add to Windows Mobile's usual set too, including a folder full of Bluetooth tools, a VPN application and voice recognition/dialling software.
In terms of mobile data, the Q 9h phone is no slouch. It's quicker than the Blackberry handsets with HSDPA speeds of 3.6Mbit/sec supported, alongside GPRS and EDGE and quad-band phone capability, plus it has Bluetooth 2.0. But at only £245 unlocked, something's going to have to give, and in the case of the Q 9h it's the rest of the specification.
There's no Wi-Fi capability, for instance, and no GPS. Disappointingly the phone has only a 2-megapixel camera and, despite its fast HSDPA data, no accompanying VGA video call camera either. The screen is a small 2.4in 320 x 240 one, despite the wide chassis, and the processor and memory complement - a 200MHz ARM chip and 64MB RAM - don't look particularly generous.
It's not all bad news, though, and the Q 9h fights back with an ingenious sensor on the front that dims the screen to an appropriate level depending on the ambient light. And, despite the humble core components, Windows Mobile doesn't seem to suffer at all - it's a very nippy, responsive phone to use.
In short, I like the Motorola Q 9h. It's clearly a budget handset and doesn't have the full armoury of smartphone features. But Motorola has cut the corners in all the right places and added extra value where it counts too. Most importantly it's a highly usable email tool with a brilliant keyboard and some genuinely useful software to go with it. It looks as if Blackberry finally has a genuine challenger.