Fareed's Motorola Q review

Fareed Mahdi
Cell Phone Editor
Published: July 19, 2006

Motorola Q front and side viewThe Motorola Q is one of the most anticipated phones of the year. The sleek RAZR look combined with Windows Mobile makes it the ultimate business tool. Although the exclusivity for Verizon is good news for US Verizon customers, it is a big disappointment for GSM customers worldwide. Since the Motorola Q was revealed by Motorola, there has been talk about it everywhere by everyone. I have finally got my hands on the Verizon Motorola Q. To find out what all the fuss is about, READ ON!!

 The Motorola Q is a lot smaller than I expected.  In pictures it looks a lot bigger, but when you actually have the phone you can see how small it is compared to its competitors.  The world famous sleek RAZR look is what makes this phone so dreamy. The Q is magnificently designed because it is the first Windows Mobile phone to have a scroll wheel and a back button on the right hand side (Think Blackberry).

In my opinion this scroll wheel is meant for maneuvering the phone using only one hand, and this is the feature that most Windows Mobile phones are currently missing. The buttons that are located on the front of the phone have a RAZR look to it, and are designed very well. The QWERTY keyboard is also excellent for its size. Although the keyboard is small and the buttons are very tiny it is not hard to use, and you get used to it very quickly. 

 


Features

The Motorola Q has all the basic features that Windows Mobile has to offer. The Motorola Q offers picture ID, Mp3 ringtones, different types of themes for your home screen etc. The Q also offers all the PIM functions like tasks, calendar, alarm clock etc. The best part about Windows Mobile phones is that if any function is missing you can easily get a third party app to suit your needs.    

Motorola Q CameraThe Motorola Q has all the advanced features you need plus a lot more. The Q has an Intel processor that clocks speeds up to 312 MHz. The Q has a built in 1.3 mega-pixel camera with flash for Hi-Resolution photos. The Q also has EV-DO which runs very fast and has almost the same capabilities that Wi-Fi has. The Downside to EV-DO is that you have to pay for the service and you cannot use your existing internet. The Motorola Q also has a mini USB for charging and also can be used for many other accessories like mini USB battery pack etc. 

Since Motorola Q is one of the newest Windows Mobile Smartphones, it has all the Bluetooth features that were not available before. For example the Q has the long anticipated Stereo over Bluetooth built in with no upgrades necessary. (Upgrades were necessary for older Windows phones) With stereo over Bluetooth you can now listen to music all wirelessly or even stream music to some Bluetooth enabled devices.  Note that Motorola enabled this functionality by using a non-Microsoft Bluetooth stack which can in some cases be incompatible with your other Bluetooth devices/software.


Display & Audio

The Motorola has the newest screen resolution and soon will be the standard for all Windows Mobile Smartphones. The Q's screen resolution is 320 x 240 which is far more superior to older Smartphone resolutions because it just makes more sense to have the displays in landscape view as opposed to portrait.  Motorola Q Display

The Motorola Q supports 65,000 colors and is 36 by 48mm in size. The Q has a very bright display and is excellent for watching videos or viewing high quality pictures. The Q is not a Pocket PC so it does not have a touch screen display.  Although some Pocket PC diehards may find it a little strange at first, the UI is very intuitive and after a few days you won't feel like you?re missing anything. 

The Motorola Q has dual stereo speakers located on the back of the phone. In my opinion dual speakers should be the next standard on phones because when listening through one speaker even if it's very loud it doesn't sound as good. With two speakers it kind of feels like surround sound. The Q also has stereo headphones via a 2.5mm headphone jack, which is perfect for using your phone as an mp3 player.

In addition, if you have Bluetooth stereo headphones you can listen to your favorite songs all wirelessly.  As with all the latest Smartphones, the Q ships with Media Player 10 which allows you to sync and listen to music bought from any of the many online music retailers that support encrypted .WMA.  (No iTunes supported).


Entertainment, Internet, Storage, Connectivity

Windows Mobile phones are the ultimate entertainment gadgets. With Windows Mobile phones you can get unlimited applications for what ever you need. The Motorola Q supports all java games and apps and all you need is a good java midlet application. Also you can listen to music via windows media player 10 and watch some video formats too.

Motorola Q display headerIf you want to watch all kinds of video formats including .avi, .mpeg etc all you need is a freeware program called TCPMP formerly known as Betaplayer. In TCPMP you can create play-lists and save them, you can watch any kind of videos and even listen to mp3 songs with picture art. You can also do a lot more with the newer version of the software. The Best thing about this program is that you can make hot keys for various buttons. For example O on the keyboard for open file, F for full screen and so on.  

Motorola Q angle view
The Motorola Q has EV-DO, which in my opinion has both pros and cons when comparing it with Wi-Fi. With EV-DO you have to pay your service provider a monthly fee depending on how much you use the internet. With Wi-Fi you do not have to pay anything as long as you have a wireless signal. EV-DO is almost the same speed as Wi-Fi and you will not be able to tell the difference in regards to speed when using them. Depending on the phone's battery with Wi-Fi switched on, many phones will not last as long as opposed to having EV-DO connected because Wi-Fi is supported by a separate chip that consumes power while EV-DO uses the same radio as the phone does.

There is a big misconception about the Motorola Q being able to support Wi-Fi mini SD card to enable wireless internet on the Q. This is false because the battery will not be able to handle Wi-Fi and if it did the battery would drain out very fast. Also in my opinion I think Motorola did not put Wi-Fi in the Motorola Q for a couple of reasons. I think that since Verizon had exclusivity for the Q they did not want it to have Wi-Fi so people use there EV-DO service.

Also sometimes big companies do not put advanced features on phones on purpose, so they can have an upgrade of the phone that comes out next. For example when the Motorola v3 RAZR was released Motorola had the technology of adding a mega-pixel camera and external memory but they saved it for the V3i to sell even more. I am hoping that maybe Motorola fixes this issue with the release of the GSM version of the Q because Wi-Fi on Windows Mobile devices should be the new standard. 
  
The storage on the Q is almost the same as most new windows phones. The Motorola Q has 64 MB built in memory. Also the Q has 128 MB of Ram. The good news is that it supports up to 2 GB mini SD.

The Q can be used as USB or Bluetooth modem (using tethering, see here for more, note you don't need the registry hack to use it with the USB cable, follow the same steps to enable DUN).  As mentioned, the Q currently lacks Wi-Fi but EV-DO works great, if you are a heavy user, make sure to get an unlimited data plan.  Also note that because Verizon is CDMA, roaming outside of North America is generally not possible with this edition of the Q. 


Construction & Conclusion

The Q build quality is high and feels sturdy in the hand.  The screen is likely going to get scratches fairly easily, so I highly recommend you invest in a screen protector.  The mini-SD and 2.5 mm mic inputs are covered by a rubber piece that is difficult to remove, be careful or it's likely to get scratched.  The keys (especially in the first few days) seemed a little stiff and your fingers will get tired with heavy usage but they seemed to lighten up and are fine now.  The keys are high quality and spaced and laid out well.  Motorola Q angle view

One area of disappoint was the speakerphone:  Although you can hear the caller fine, the mic is not strong enough for the Q to be effectively used as a speakerphone unless you are very close to it and there is absolutely no background noise (kind of defeating the purpose of the feature).  People complain of not being able to hear clearly.  In case you can't find it, the speakerphone key is the little ?pacman? symbol in the lower right keypad. 
 
Because of the slim form factor, and the XScale processor, the Q is a bit power hungry, under light to normal usage, the battery it ships with will last about 24-48 hours, usually making it necessary to recharge every night.  This is not a big deal for most users, but if it is a concern for you, I?d recommend you also purchase the expanded battery.  The expanded battery is thicker, and therefore comes with a new battery cover for the Q, in my opinion it totally ruins the sleek lines of the phone but for some people having extra juice is going to be more important.

The Motorola Q has excellent reception.  When compared to the Treo 700w on the same Verizon network, the Q is able to operate with clear call quality in the same spots where the Treo can't connect at all.   This might be an important consideration for people who live or work in areas with weak Verizon coverage.  I have not used other Verizon phones so cannot comment on how the Q compares to others. 

Although Motorola is far behind in the Windows Mobile market, they did make a lot of people happy and satisfied with the release of the Q. Motorola's previous Windows phones were very buggy and were also missing much needed features. The MPX series from Motorola were one of the first Windows phones and turned out to be a big flop. The Motorola mpx 100 and 300 were canceled before production and the mpx 200 was very bulky with a lot of bugs. The Motorola mpx 220 was one of the best flip phones that was released by Motorola and in my opinion they should release a Windows Mobile 5 version of the phone.

The Motorola Q's release has brought up Motorola's reputation but at the same time a lot of people are also upset because the GSM version is still not due for a while. In my opinion Motorola will have to step up if they want a piece of the Windows Mobile market. I think their biggest mistake was only releasing the Q with CDMA service providers (Verizon in the US, Telus in Canada). I think Motorola is going to lose a big chunk of money that they would have made if the Q was released for GSM at the same time as it was released on CDMA. Now that Nokia has released the E61 and Samsung is releasing the i320 for GSM means that by the time the GSM version of the Motorola Q will be released, these phones will have been on the market for a while and the Q will not be so intriguing anymore.

Overall the Q is a great phone in a great form factor, if you are a Verizon customer or are thinking of switching, it's a worthwhile investment.  Keep in mind that you can't roam outside of North America but for most users that's not a big issue. 

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