Hands-On: Motorola Q9m, SE w580i, Helio Fin
I've got a handful of new handsets soon to be given the full review treatment. To tide you over, some thoughts on a few notable new mobile phones recently delivered by the mail carrier:
Motorola Q9m (Verizon)
I remember seeing the new Q back at CTIA when I sat next to a Moto executive at some panel discussion or another. I was kind of impressed back then, but in the six months hence I've had the chance to try a bunch of smartphones. Which is to say that while the Q9m lives up to its billing as a Q that runs Windows Mobile 6 and features a better keypad, it's not as exciting as the latest handsets from HTC, SE, or Apple.
The Q9m is the consumer-friendly, music-centric version of the Q9, and it features a red and black color scheme and integration with Verizon's VCast offerings and online music store. More or less the same size and shape as the original Q, Q9m features the same 2.4" QVGA display but adds stereo speakers to the package. If you like Verizon, like Motorola, and want a device with a full QWERTY board and access to online entertainment, the Q9m certainly isn't a bad choice. It's just not all that exciting.
Sony Ericsson w580i (AT&T)
If the w580i was compatible with AT&T's 3G network, it just might be the perfect low-cost, smaller-sized alternative to the iPhone. SE sent me their new slider Walkman phone finished in Urban Grey and both my wife and I fell for it right out of the box (her Samsung t809 slider recently gave out and the w580i has a similar form factor and style).
The w580i features SE's Walkman 2.0 music player interface along with a 2MP camera, Music ID and shake features, and a 512 MB memory card and stereo headphones included in the box. What's this? A music phone that comes with headphones? Wow! I haven't had a chance to really test this one out yet, but I'm generally a fan of SE handsets, so I've got high hopes. Too bad it doesn't do 3G, though.
Helio Fin (Helio)
Helio's ultra-thin flip phone - the Samsung-made Fin - does almost all of what Ocean does, minus the QWERTY board ... and minus most of Ocean's bulk and weight. Fin features a 3mp camera, solid magnesium alloy body, and Helio's advanced messaging, Web, and entertainment functionality - not to mention their new GPS-based navigation system. At less than one half of an inch from front to back, it was the thinnest flip phone in North America when it was launched this Summer.
Fin isn't perfect - the external display is small (though I don't really mind that), the camera lacks a flash, and taking advantage of all of Helio's features is harder on Fin's keypad than it is on Ocean's full QWERTY layout. But if you're a fan of Helio's innovative features (MySpace, anyone?) but want something a bit sleeker than Ocean, Fin might just do the trick.
Look for full reviews of these handsets (and a few more) coming soon on PhoneDog.com.