Two weeks before CTIA, Motorola jumped the gun and unleashed a gallery of new cell phones. While most of the models were basic handsets for developing markets, the Motorola U9 and the Motorola Razr2 V8 Luxury Edition stood out from the crowd. Luckily, Motorola gave us the chance to see the handsets up close at a CTIA press event.
The Moto U9 inherits its curvaceous design from the Motorola Pebl U6. It has the same rounded edges and smooth body, though instead of a rubbery skin, it sports a glossy finish that reflects the light. It fits neatly in the hand, and I liked the slick external display. Though it's invisible when the backlighting is off, a flick of the volume rocker will cause the display to appear behind the front face.
The dark pink color is certainly eye-catching, but the U9 comes in a more subdued black hue as well. Unfortunately, I didn't get the chance to test the new "Spinner" interface, but it looks cool from the pictures. Features on the U9 include a music player, stereo Bluetooth, Moto's Crystal Talk technology, a 2-megapixel camera, and world phone support. And in contrast to what I said in a video, the U9 is not part of Moto's Rokr series (sorry about that, it was a long trade show day). Also, we first saw the U9's nontraditional hinge design in the Sony Ericsson Z600, not the Pebl.
The Motorola Razr2 V8 Luxury Edition has the same overall shape as the original Razr2 V8, but the 18-karat and 24-karat gold plating positively sparkles. What's more, the slate black accents, faux leather rear face and the pin-striped design around the external display certainly put it in a luxury league (assuming there is, and even should be, such a league for cell phones). Some users might find that all bling to be a bit too much, but if you love making a statement, this could be the phone for you. The spacious external display is here as well, but unlike the Razr2 V9, it doesn't use the nifty onscreen controls to its full extent (T-Mobile's Razr2 V8 had the same problem). As for features, the handset offers Bluetooth, a 2-megapixel camera, quadband GSM world phone support, Moto's CrystalTalk technology, a full HTML browser, and Windows Media Player 11. We'll review them just as soon as we can.