Even aside from the ever popular BlackBerry, which for many people is the defining device in this category, the Windows Mobile Smartphone is a pretty crowded market so Motorola’s Q9 has a lot to contend with.
As I write this review the phone has gone on sale in Italy and is fully expected that it will appear in the UK pretty soon. At the moment though, we don’t have confirmation of pricing or any information about which operators might take it on.
It is more than likely it will find a home here though, as it has some enticing specifications. It runs Windows Mobile 6 and is Quad-band with HSDPA at up to 3.6Mbps. You won’t find a UK operator offering more than 1.8Mbps at the moment, but there’s nothing like a bit of future-proofing, is there? It has 96MB of RAM and 256MB of internal storage memory and a microSD card slot is on the upper left edge of the casing. A 2-megapixel camera with flash caters for shooting photos and video, the latter at 30 frames a second. Very annoyingly given that little list, there is Bluetooth but no Wi-Fi.
This is a pretty big smartphone. It weighs 134g, which considering you can get Smartphones weighing around the hundred gram mark is a bit heavy. In the accompanying paperwork, the Q9 Motorola only divulged the thickness of this device, all 11.8mm of it. My trusty ruler came up with a height measurement of 117mm and width of 67mm.
Compare all these dimensions to those of the recently reviewed Samsung SGH-i600 and the Samsung wins on almost every count.
Of course it isn’t just about size. A keyboarded Windows Mobile Smartphone has to be usable and in this instance a lot of that usability is about the keyboard itself. I found the SGH-i600’s keyboard pretty good to use at a fair speed. The Q9’s is about the same in terms of usability, though the keyboard design is very different.
In this case the key are large and arranged so that they touch each other rather than being separated. They have a rubbery texture, are very clearly marked and give a little click when they are pressed.
On the bottom row are several shortcut keys. These variously open the Calendar, Contacts and music library, activate the camera, and run the voice control software. The voice control button also activates the speakerphone when you are on a call. Add to these the shortcut buttons for the Windows Mobile messaging software and for the web browser, both of which sit immediately beneath the screen, and you can see that even though this Smartphone does not have a touchscreen it isn’t too difficult to use it one-handed.
Motorola has gone all RAZR with the buttons beneath the screen. They sit on a flat area and are separated by ridges and as each one occupies a relatively large space they are not difficult to use. This is a good thing, because as well as web browsing and message creation you use these buttons to start and end calls, get to the Windows Mobile Today screen, go back, and use the softmenus. Right in the centre of these is a relatively small navigation button.