Motorola Q 9h QWERTY Smartphone

Gone are the RAZR-inspired looks of the original Motorola Q, and in their place comes something far more sophisticated, albeit not to everyone's taste. The mix of gloss sides and screen and soft touch material on the keypad, as well as dark grey and black colors with brushed aluminum highlights, creates a mix that at the same time looks well designed and haphazardly thrown together. It is a device that appears far different in photos than it does in person, and all I can really recommend is that you view the device in the flesh before a purchase. Overall, however, the device feels quite solid in the hand, and I was pleased with its design overall.

Another styling queue that has disappeared with the Q 9h is the large 'chin' underneath the keyboard. Instead, the device is roughly divided 50/50 between screen and keys, with the keys going almost all the way to the bottom of the device, though a good weight balance keeps this from being a problem. When viewed in silhouette from the side, the device forms a slanted parallelogram look. While this makes it a little different and more stylish, there is not a lot of purpose to it.

The main focus of a messaging-orientated device like the Motorola Q 9h will always be the keypad, and this is an area where it truly shines. Despite there being no space between the keys, their highly convex shape makes it simple to find the correct key. The Q 9h is one of the first devices that I have used that I was able to type on with a reasonable speed right from the word go, with very little in the way of a learning curve. Below the alphanumeric keys and beside the spacebar sit five shortcut keys, representing, from left to right, the calendar, phonebook, media player, camera, and voice commands. These keys can be very handy. There really is only one negative about the keypad on the Q 9h, and that is its finish. It has a rubbery feeling soft-touch material covering, which unfortunately does not aid at all with grip, and looks very cheap.

Above the QWERTY keypad is a huge five-way d-pad that is surrounded by eight utility keys that appear similar to those found on a regular Motorola RAZR. These keys include two softkeys, the call and end keys, the back and home buttons, and shortcuts to the messaging and web browsing applications. Around these keys are electro-luminescent lines that are functional and good looking, and also show the charging status of the device when it is plugged in. The d-pad itself is fantastic, and was big enough to be very easy to use. Like the rest of the keys on the Motorola Q 9h, these utility keys provide great tactile feedback and are extremely well backlit.

Looking to the right edge of the Motorola Q 9h, the manufacturer has shunned the increasingly common scroll wheel in favor of up and down arrow keys around a select button, with a back button found just below. This really is a personal preference, though I tend to like the wheel idea better. On the left of the device is a microSD memory card slot covered by a small plastic door, and found below this is a microUSB port. No, that wasn't a typo, the Motorola Q 9h is the first device to cross my desk with the newer, smaller microUSB port rather than the much more common miniUSB. The microUSB standard is specifically designed for mobile phones and other small devices, and even though I can appreciate the size reductions of the plug, I can't help but feel a little put out by the fact that my army of miniUSB cables and headsets will soon be rendered obsolete. This change also means that you will need to remember a microUSB cable, an adapter, or the Motorola charger when traveling.

The top and bottom of the Q 9h are empty, though turning the device over reveals the 2.0MP camera and flash, and the grille for a large speaker. A silver Motorola logo is found above the removable battery cover, and I am sad to say that this cover's design is completely terrible. A slight bump was all that was needed to unclip it, which was generally accompanied by the battery shifting and the device turning off.

Back on the front of the device, a 2.4" 262k color TFT LCD display with a QVGA (240x320 pixel) resolution provides the gateway into Windows Mobile 6. This display is colorful and bright, but seems to lack a little of the sharpness seen in some other recent handsets. For the average user though, it is almost perfect, with usage even in the brightest sunlight possible. The Q 9h utilizes an ambient light sensor to automatically adjust display brightness to two levels depending on the light level around you; unfortunately, the low level was too dark for my taste, but this is one of the few complaints that could be said about the screen.