Motorola Q9h

August 22nd, 2008

Here’s my Motorola Q9h review.

It’s been a while since I’ve used a Windows Mobile Phone as a daily phone but I thought the Q9h was alright.

Physical Impressions:

Size wise the Q9 is similar to the original Q only it’s a little wider. The Q9h’s edges are more rounded so it’s nicer to hold in your hand. It doesn’t have the original Q’s ridges around the side mounted buttons which is nice.

The Q9h’s keys are covered with a soft rubbery material which keeps your fingers from slipping off the keys plus the keyboard itself is a little wider. It’s really nice as far as thumb board keyboards go.

There are lots of shortcut keys in front; browser, messaging, calendar, contacts, media player, camera and voice command. My original thought was that the keys were really annoying because I kept accidentally pressing them, however, after I got used to them, I really liked them (more on that later).

The navpad is nice and big. Unlike the Q, the Q9h doesn’t have a jog dial. I don’t miss the jog dial at all as I never found it very useful on Windows Mobile.

The display measures 2.4″ and has a resolution of 320×240. These are pretty standard but I found myself wishing it was bigger with more resolution – particularly when I’m browsing the web.

If you want to use headphones, you’ll need to use ones with a micro USB connector or a micro USB to headphone adapter. I’m not crazy about this arrangement since I find the adapters to be inconvenient to use. The same port is used for charging and syncing.

There’s also support for Bluetooth stereo headphones.

On the back of the Q9h are two very large (for a phone) speakers. They’re really loud compared to most other phones (even louder than the n95′s) and they sound pretty good. They’re so loud you can feel the Q9h shake if you turn them up.

On the left side is a micro SDHC slot. I used a 4GB card in there no problem.

There are volume, select and back buttons on the right side. To be honest I found the Q9h to be too thin to use these buttons comfortably and just used the corresponding keys on the front of the phone.

The one feature the Q9h is missing is WiFi. If you have a lousy data plan and or lousy network coverage and or travel frequently you’ll really notice this omission.


The Q9h runs Windows Mobile Personal (formerly known as WM Smartphone). It’s a pretty standard implementation. Besides the usual utilities, you also get Opera 8.65, McAfee Virus scan (not installed by default but there’s a link to install it), voice signal voice recognition software, Documents to Go and some misc extra settings i.e. music settings.

One of WM’s most useful features as far as being a phone goes is that you can look up phone book entries by just entering part of the entry’s name or phone number from the standby screen. The Q9h will automatically look for matches in your phonebook/recent call lists.

The message client handles email, SMS and MMS. The email client supports Exchange along with iMAP and POP mail boxes. You can view html emails fine though it takes a few extra button presses to do so.

One of the Q9h’s high points is that you get Opera as the default browser. Opera has lots of great features including tabbed browsing, different views, zoom settings, SSL support and Javascript.

While I loved the tabbed browsing you have to go easy on it because if you load too many pages, the Q9h gets bogged down. By default, the browser cache is a paltry 2MB. I don’t suggest you change it much because if you set it too high, the browser cache fills with 1000′s of small files which will slow the Q9h to a crawl.

Music and video playback is handled with Windows Media Player. It’s the same one you’ll find in other Smartphones. It sorts your songs by album, artist, etc. There is A2DP support so you can use wireless Bluetooth headphones.

You can adjust the bass in the settings menu (outside of Windows Media Player). There’s also a Spatial Audio feature (Virtual 3D sound) which makes everything sound confusing (you can turn it off or adjust the level of spaciousness).

The camera is a pretty standard 2.0 megapixel one with a flash. While it doesn’t have auto focus after using Nokia n95′s on and off lately, I really like how the Q9h’s camera takes pictures quickly. The camera app starts up a little faster and there is no auto focus lag. There’s a flash (LED) which has to be manually turned on when you want to use it. It stays on till you turn it off (as opposed to turning itself on only when you take a picture).

Picture quality isn’t great. I was mildly impressed that the Q9h does okay indoors with regards to taking blurry pictures. For whatever reason I didn’t take that many blurry pictures with the Q9h.

One nice extra is that you get Documents to Go. You can use it to view PDF files or create, edit and view MS Word, PowerPoint and Excel files. Yes, you can create. There’s also a zip file manager which is useful if you’re downloading programs straight to your phone. The PDF viewer seems to work better than other phone based PDF viewers. It loads PDF’s faster (because it only loads one page at a time) and is easier to read. Still, you got to be pretty desperate to use it.

Now I mentioned before that I liked all the extra application shortcuts on the keyboard. The reason I liked them is because the Q9h is pretty fast/responsive for a Smartphone. Once you’ve opened an application (for example Opera, Email, Media Player) you can quickly switch between the apps using the shortcut keys. It’s great. Unfortunately the Q9h does bog down sometimes but it’s not as bad as it is with other Smartphones. So I guess it’s both good and bad.

There is GPS support. Motorola doesn’t include a mapping program to use this (just download Google Maps).


Voices were slightly muddy but overall incoming sound quality on the Q9h is quite good. The only problem is that there is really noticeable buzzing if the backlight is on. So at the beginning of each call you’ll hear it. It’s strange.

The buzzing is also noticeable on the outgoing until the backlight turns off. Otherwise outgoing is also quite good.

RF performance is good.

Earpiece volume is great; the Q9h is a loud phone.

The Speakerphone is also very loud thanks to the pair of large speakers on the back.

Battery life is pretty weak. The Q9h will struggle to make it through the day. I guess it’s good that Motorola left WiFi out. Apparently some versions come with a bigger battery that sticks out.


Despite the lack of WiFi I liked the Q9h. It looks cool, has a great keyboard, it’s relatively fast (for a Smartphone) and it comes with Opera. The device’s speed makes all the shortcut keys useful.

The only real downsides were the weird buzzing during calls when the backlight is on plus the less than stellar battery life.

Ratings (out of 5)

Build Quality 3.5
Battery Life 2.5
Phone Related Features 4
Ease of Use 3.5
RF Performance 4
Degree of Customizability 4
Overall (not an average) 4
*Please note these ratings are temporal and are really only valid for the date they were assigned. A phone which receives a rating of 5 a year ago will probably get a lower rating today.


  • Fast (for a WM Smartphone)
  • Shortcut keys
  • Documents to Go with the ability to create files
  • Loud speakers


  • No WiFi
  • Screen feels small
  • Buzz during calls when screen is on
  • Poor battery life

Discuss this review at
Written by Howard Chui 08.22.2008
This article may not be reproduced without the the author’s permission.

Entry Filed under: Phones

7 Comments Add your own

    Mark  |  September 13th, 2008 at 11:57 pm

    Any info on the new silver Q9h being released by AT&T?
    I also heard rumors of a WiFi-enabled Q9h, maybe this updated version will have it?

    Kichigai Mentat  |  September 17th, 2008 at 9:11 am

    Did Microsoft improve the ever-crappy Pocket IE? WM6 is an OK OS, when it’s stable, except it’s browser blows chunks. I love the messaging center (I haven’t seen one better yet), and the address book is quite functional, and outside of stability issues, I didn’t have any complaints except that you NEED to purchase a separate browser or else the web crawls and looks like crap. Here’s hoping DeepFish makes the mainstream soon.

    Top 25 Cell Phone Blogs -&hellip  |  September 18th, 2008 at 3:25 am

    [...] 24.    Howard Chui [...]

    Nel  |  October 27th, 2008 at 4:04 am

    Great review,thanks :)

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    mookie  |  November 15th, 2008 at 3:01 am

    kichigai: pocket ie is on the q9h, but motorola has put opera 8.65 in the rom — and has made opera the default browser, so you don’t have to pay for anything.

    jason  |  January 19th, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    nice, I just got my subsidy code from here
    as recommended. now I’m all set!
    thanks again.

    Online Mobile Recharge  |  December 21st, 2010 at 5:20 am

    Motorola Q9h Nice review.

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