Though the U9 bore the "Rokr" moniker when Moto introduced it a year ago, it's now fallen out with that family. But, even, so the U9 offers an attractive music player. Features include playlists, repeat and shuffle modes, an airplane mode, an equalizer, spatial audio, and bass boost. The interface is Spartan--you won't find album art or visualizations--but it's straightforward and user-friendly. Controlling songs with the toggle is relatively easy and, of course, you can use the touch controls on the external display, as well. We were also pleased with how simple it was to load music on the phone. You can use one of three methods: Bluetooth, a memory card, or a USB cable. We used the latter method and didn't have any problems. Our PC recognized the phone right away and we synced our tunes using Windows Media Player. Be advised that music can be stored only on a memory card.
The 2-megapixel camera takes pictures in four resolutions and three quality settings. Other editing features include six color tones, a self-timer, a night mode, a multishot mode, a brightness setting, an 8x zoom, and six shutter sounds, plus a silent option. You can add a photo tag as well. Photo quality was just average. Colors were faded and our pictures were dim with a lot of image noise. Like the E8, the U9 is not a phone you buy for its camera.
The camcorder takes clips with sound in two resolutions. Editing options are about the same as the still camera. Clips meant for multimedia messages are capped at 10 seconds; otherwise, you can shoot for as long as the available memory permits. Videos were average: the sound was rather quiet and it couldn't handle quick movements. That's hardly unique for a cell phone, though. The U9 offers 250MB of internal memory.
You can personalize the U9 with a variety of wallpapers, themes, and alert tones. You can download more options and additional ringtones with the WAP 2.0 wireless Web browser. Games are limited to two titles: Platinum Sudoku and Need for Speed: Carbon. You can buy more titles if you wish.
We tested the quadband (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) Motorola U9 in San Francisco with AT&T service. Call quality was quite decent with loud volume, no static, and good voice clarity. We could understand our callers without any problems, even when were talking next to a busy street. We had a bit if trouble hearing in large rooms with noisy PA announcements, but that's not unusual with a cell phone. On their end, callers could hear us well, but a few reported the phone picks up a lot of wind noise, but it was nothing we heard.
Speakerphone calls were a little tinny but were satisfying overall. The volume can get pretty loud even if the speaker is facing away. Callers grumbled a bit about static but, again, it was nothing that we heard. Bluetooth-headset calls were mostly satisfactory, as well.
We noticed that the menus on the U9 were a bit sluggish. As we selected options and closed menus there was a short lag between when we made the connection and when it actually happened. It was only a second or two but it was long enough to be noticeable.
The music player delivers respectable performance, but it is a few notches short of excellent. Audio through the external speaker was tinny and, though the volume output is loud, the sound becomes distorted at the highest levels. A headset will provide the best experience.
The U9 has a rated battery life of 7.16 hours talk time and 14.58 days standby time. We had a tested talk time of 7 hours and 23 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests the U9 has a digital SAR of 1.36 watts per kilogram.