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Motorola Q9h (AT&T) review: Motorola Q9h (AT&T)

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Voice features on the Motorola Q9h include quadband world roaming, a speakerphone, three-way calling, conference calling, speed dial, and text and multimedia messaging. The phone book is limited only by the available memory, and the SIM card can hold an additional 250 contacts. Each address book entry can hold multiple numbers; e-mail, Web, and street addresses; company information, and more. For caller ID purposes, you can assign a picture, a group ID, or any of 39 polyphonic ringtones.

You should be pretty pleased with the wireless options on the Q9h. There's integrated Bluetooth, HSDPA, and GPS. Supported Bluetooth profiles include those for use with wireless headsets, hands-free kits, wireless synchronization, peripherals, and A2DP for stereo Bluetooth headsets. And you don't have to worry about getting an optional Bluetooth GPS receiver, as the radio is already built into the smartphone. This allows you to turn the Q9h into a handheld navigation device with which you can get color maps, driving directions, and points of interest with the help of a location-based service or nav software, such as TeleNav GPS Navigator or Google Maps for Mobile.

Now, while the lack of Wi-Fi is a disappointment, we aren't all that heartbroken since HSDPA is there to fill the void. This 3.5G technology brings data speeds of as fast as 2Mbps, though they'll average more around 400Kbps to 700Kbps--still, this equals pretty swift downloads and Web browsing. Speaking of which, Motorola decided to do its own thing again and chose Opera as the default Web browser for the Q9h. Once again, we're not complaining as Opera does a great job of optimizing Web pages for mobile devices.

To piggyback the 3G capabilities, the Motorola Q9h works with the carrier's AT&T Video and AT&T Music services. AT&T Music is a full-featured service that allows you to purchase songs from independent music services, such as Napster to Go and Yahoo Music, but also includes streaming XM satellite radio, music videos, MusicID for identifying song titles and artists, and more. Unfortunately, not all features of the service were enabled on our review unit, but we were able to listen to XM satellite radio and enjoyed smooth streaming audio. Meanwhile, AT&T Video gives you access to streaming video from various channels such as Comedy Central, CNN, ESPN, and HBO Mobile. Of course, you can import your personal library of MP3, AAC, WAV, WMA, MPEG-4, and WMV files via microSD card, thanks to Windows Media Player 10 Mobile.

Motorola Q9h
The Q9h features a 2-megapixel camera with 8x zoom and video-recording capabilities.

Finally, the Motorola Q9h is equipped with a 2-megapixel camera with a digital zoom up to 8x, a flash, and video-recording capabilities. For still images, there are several shooting modes, and you have your choice of four resolutions. You can also adjust the picture with white balance and brightness settings. Video mode is a bit more limited when it comes to editing abilities, but you do get two quality options, 4x zoom, and white-balance adjustment.

Motorola Q9h
Picture quality wasn't the greatest, as there was a grayish tone to colors.

Picture quality was a bit disappointing. While images were clear, there was a grayish tone to them. On the other hand, video clips looked pretty decent; there wasn't as much murkiness. As with most camera phones though, the Q9h is fine for quick snapshots to send via multimedia message or if you need to capture something in a pinch, but it certainly isn't anything print-worthy.

We tested the quadband (GSM 850/900/1800/1900; HSDPA) Motorola Q9h in San Francisco using AT&T service, and call quality was excellent. We were impressed by how clear calls sounded without any hint of any background noise or disruption, making it easy to converse with our friends and interact with our bank's automated voice-response system. Our callers also praised the audio quality and added that they couldn't tell we were using a cell phone. We're happy to report speakerphone quality was also good, thanks to the dual-speaker system. There was plenty of volume, so we could hear conversations even in louder environments. We also were able to successfully pair the Q9h with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset.

There's been work done under the hood from previous Moto Q models. The Motorola Q9h is powered by a 355MHz TI OMAP processor and with about 120MB of user-available storage and 39MB of available memory, general performance felt snappier overall. There was still some delay in response, particularly once we started working on multiple tasks, but it's much improved over the original Q and didn't experience any system crashes during our test period. We'll continue to run the Q9h through its paces to see how it fares over the next couple of weeks and report any good or bad news.

Thanks to the HSDPA support, browsing the Web, viewing streaming media, and downloads were fast. Multimedia performance was also great. The smartphone's dual-speaker system does a lot to improve the quality of sound. Music playback sounded richer, and there was certainly plenty of volume. The Q9h is able to play video at 30 frames per second, and in our opinion they did look pretty darn good. We watched a couple of MP4 and WMV clips from our personal collection, and audio and images were always synchronized with no hiccups. We also checked out some short episodes from AT&T Video but noticed that when we switched to full-screen mode, the image remained in its original size. We're still a bit peeved that the Q9h employs a microUSB port, but at least there's a 3.5mm audio adapter included in the box so you can plug in regular headphones.

The Motorola Q9h's standard battery has a rated talk time battery life of 5.5 hours and as long as 19 days of standby time. An extended battery is also included in the package and has a rated talk time of 9 hours and up to 30 days of standby time. In our battery drain tests on the standard battery, we were able to get 4 hours of continuous talk time on a single charge. We will say that during our review period, we noticed that the battery tended to drain quickly just in everyday use--surfing the Web, watching video, e-mail, and working on Office documents. We realize that everyone uses their device differently, but this is still a concern. According to FCC radiation tests, the Q9h has a digital SAR rating of 1.29 watts per kilogram.

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