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Hands-on with the Motorola Q9m for Verizon

Michael Caputo

The first time we had our grubby little paws on the Motorola Q9; it was the 3G version for GSM. We recently had the chance to play around with the CDMA variant for Verizon Wireless labeled the Q9m. The device primarily focuses on being a multimedia centered device first and a Smartphone second. Even though this device is no replacement for your PMP, we feel the device does a pretty good job managing, downloading, and playing one's media library.

The Motorola Q9m and the Motorola Q share almost every physical dimension (4.61" x 2.56' x .47" vs. 4.57" x 2.52" x 0.47"), except the Q9m comes in at about 20g heavier. The additional weight gives the device a heavier feeling and a sense of better build quality -- but not too overwhelming in the pocket. Motorola has even managed to use the same 2.4" TFT display on both models which sports a 320 x 240 resolution in a 16 bit, 65,000 color display. One thing that has been removed from the updated model is the IR port.

First, it looks like Motorola heard the cries of previous users and updated the keypad design. It is now covered in a responsive, tactile, rubber coating. There's a substantial difference in the speed of composing messages from the Q9m to the original Q. The layouts of both keypads are almost identical, less the dedicated music key found at the bottom right hand corner of the Q9m.

Out of the box, the device comes with standard goodies like a battery, owners manual, data cable, home charger, cleaning cloth, and getting started CD. Verizon also includes a 128MB MiniSD card for the device and supports up to a 4GB card which is average for today's phones.

On the initial power up, we see the device is configured for the "Multimedia Home Screen" instead of the standard Windows Mobile 6. The latest home screen has a direct tie to Windows Media Player with all of the standard media buttons on the display. Any of the icons can be chosen by using the five way directional keypad to navigate and select it. Once the music starts to play, the stereo speakers personify the changes Motorola made with the device. The speakers sound crisp and clear, especially for a mobile phone.

Verizon has enabled the Q9m for their VCast Music service just like the the LG VX8550 Chocolate and many others. As usual, the device connects to Verizon's 3G EV-DO network and downloads a song in less than a minute. Once the song is downloaded, the user can log on to Verizon's website and download a higher quality version of the same song for no additional charge.

Motorola's fusion of the music player and the home screen does quite well, however it leaves much to be desired. We found ourselves moving back to the standard Windows Mobile home screen because the Multimedia Home Screen doesn't have icons for message count or recently used applications.

Pairing of the Motorola BT820 Stereo Bluetooth headset was very quick. The headset produced great sound quality while connected. The battery life on the Q9m drained fairly quickly while playing music -- only lasting about 80 minutes on a full charge.

Even though both the original Q and the Q9m have a 1.3 megapixel camera with flash, Motorola has tweaked the quality of the camera in the successor creating a far better photo. Images appear sharper and have better color balance than before.

Overall, the Motorola Q9m is a worthy successor of the original Q. With updates both cosmetically and under the hood, Motorola improved on a good Smartphone making it that much better. Those who aren't geared towards the music-focused device might be better off waiting for Big Red to release the Q9c, which could be out as early as fourth quarter this year.

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