All that said, we certainly don't mean to downplay the Q9c's messaging capabilities, as it's one of the main draws of the device. As with all the latest Windows Mobile 6 smartphones, it ships with Microsoft's Direct Push technology, so you get real-time e-mail delivery and automatic synchronization with your Outlook calendar, tasks, and contacts via Exchange Server. There's support for other e-mail solutions, as well, including Good Mobile Messaging. There is, of course, continued support for POP3 and IMAP accounts, but now you can also view e-mails in their original HTML format, regardless of account type. Sprint also includes its instant messaging package of AIM, Yahoo, and Windows Live Messenger clients.
As for productivity apps, the Q9c goes the way of the Motorola Q9h and opts to go with Dataviz's Documents to Go instead the Microsoft Office Mobile Suite for viewing and editing Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents. We really don't mind this switch, as the Dataviz suite gives you the ability to create these files, too. Other tools include a calendar, a task list, a voice recorder, and task and memory managers. You can read more about the Windows Mobile 6 operating system in our full review, and for additional third-party applications, check out CNET Download.com.
The Moto Q9c is also an EV-DO handset, which means you can enjoy data speeds as fast as 2.4Mbps, though you'll average closer to 300Kbps to 600Kbps. To make the most of the 3G speeds, you can enjoy Sprint TV on your device, which gives you access to programming from a variety of channels, including CNN, Comedy Central, E, the NFL Network, and Sprint Exclusive Entertainment. In addition, you can listen to live streaming music and talk radio from Sirius, VH1 Mobile, and MTV Mobile. Just be aware Sprint TV is an add-on service with subscription fees that start at $20 per month. Disappointingly, the Q9c does not work the Sprint Music Store, and there are no plans at this time to add this feature in future.
Other wireless options on the Q9c include Bluetooth 2.0 and GPS. The Bluetooth can be used with mono and stereo Bluetooth headsets, hands-free kits, object exchange, file sharing, and dial-up networking. If you want to use the Q9c as a wireless modem for your laptop, you will need to sign up for the Sprint Power Vision Modem Plan, which runs $39.99 per month for 40MB or $49.99 per month for unlimited. Unfortunately, there is no integrated Wi-Fi, but you can add this capability with a miniSD Wi-Fi card.
The built-in GPS radio lets you turn the smartphone into a handheld navigator, which can be particularly helpful to road warriors who are constantly going on business trips or shuttling to various meetings. With the help of a location-based service, such as Sprint Navigation, you'll be able to get color maps, driving directions, business search, and even traffic data.
For multimedia, the Q9c is equipped with a 1.3-megapixel camera with 6X zoom, flash, and video-recording capabilities. There are five resolution options (ranging from 1,280x1,024 to 160x120), three shooting modes, and brightness and white-balance settings. In video mode, there are only three quality settings, but you can adjust the brightness and white balance, as well. Picture quality wasn't bad. Objects had good definition, though we wish colors were a bit more vibrant. Video quality was also decent.
In addition to the aforementioned Sprint TV, you can watch other video as well as listen to music with the standard Windows Media Player 10 Mobile. There's support for a number of popular audio and video formats, including AAC, MP3, WAV, WMA, MPEG-4, and WMV. If you have TV shows recorded on your Windows Media Center PC, you can transfer them to your device for on-the-go viewing. Finally, there is an Audio Enhancement utility found under Start > Accessories where you can tweak the sound settings for the phone speaker as well as for your headset.
We tested the dual-band (CDMA 850/1900; EV-DO) Motorola Q9c in San Francisco using Sprint service, and call quality was decent. In general, we enjoyed clear sound with good volume and had no problem interacting with our bank's voice automated system. Our friends didn't have any major complaints, but they could tell we were using a cell phone and said our voice sounded a bit digitized. Activating the speakerphone produced some bad feedback on our side of the conversation; it was more annoying than crippling, and we do wish there was a bit more volume. We were able to successfully pair the Q9c with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset and the Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Headphones.
With about 24MB of available memory and 36MB of available storage, general performance on the Motorola Q9c was OK though not stellar. We experienced brief delays when launching various programs, which became increasingly longer the more applications we had open. We've found this to be typical of Windows Mobile devices, and the Q9c isn't any better or worse than other smartphones. We didn't suffer any system crashes during our review period. Music playback was smooth with plenty of volume, but songs sounded hollow and lacked bass. However, video performance was a bit mixed. Watching a WMV video, there was good synchronization between the image and audio but when we watched a few clips from Sprint TV, there was a bit of a disconnect and the sound was garbled.
The Q9c's extended battery has a rated talk time of 7.2 hours. In our battery drain tests, we were able to get 7.5 hours of continuous talk time on a single charge. According to FCC radiation tests, the Q9c has a digital SAR rating of 1.3 watts per kilogram.