Editors' note: Ratings have been adjusted with respect to newer devices that have entered the market.
The Motorola Q certainly knows how to make an impression. Ever since its introduction almost a year ago, this smart phone has generated a lot of buzz for its ultrathin form factor. Of course, Motorola generated a lot of the hype itself by touting the Q as the "thinnest QWERTY device in the world." And now after a number of delays, the Q finally is here, and thankfully, it delivers in performance and style. It offers good call quality, an outstanding multimedia experience, and the tools to keep business users productive on the go, such as Windows Mobile 5 Smartphone Edition, EV-DO, and e-mail support. For the ultimate road warriors who need full functionality for editing documents from the road, however, they may want to opt for a Windows Mobile Pocket PC phone, such as the Palm Treo 700w. That said, however, it'll be hard to resist the Q's sexy packaging. Is this a good marketing strategy by Motorola? Definitely. For now, the Moto Q will be sold exclusively through Verizon Wireless for a fair price of $199.99, along with a two-year contract and a $100 instant rebate. Verizon's BroadbandAccess service plans start at $79.99 for 450 anytime minutes with unlimited data usage. Motorola said it would start GSM/UMTS trials by the end of the year.
Would there have been so much hype about the Motorola Q if it didn't rock such a sleek design? Probably not. The Q's form factor is a huge--if not the main--drawing point of the device. Modeled after the Motorola Razr V3, the Q measures a slim 4.57 by 2.52 by 0.47 inches and is actually thinner than the Razr. It easily slips into a shirt or a pants pocket, and ladies, the Q certainly won't demand too much space in your purse. The overall construction is solid, and it feels good in the hands, but if you haven't used this type of convergence device before, you might have to go through a period of adjustment to get used to the extra width, as well as holding it up to your ear as a phone.
The Motorola Q's screen is a sight to behold. It measures 2.5 inches diagonally and displays 65,536 hues at a 320x240-pixel resolution. The color output and resolution match those of the Cingular 2125 and the T-Mobile SDA, but the extra screen real estate makes it that much more impressive; colors pop, and text and images are defined and sharp. The display is even readable in direct sunlight. You can customize the home screen with a number of preinstalled background images, or you can upload your own. You also have options for changing the backlight time, the color theme, and the font size. Be aware, however, that the Q doesn't have a touch screen, and the display's landscape orientation takes a bit of acclimation. More scrolling is involved when viewing Web pages and documents, but we grew accustomed to it after a few tries. The screen's tendency to hold a lot of smudges and fingerprints irked us, however, so we had to clean it constantly. Even worse, Verizon doesn't package the device with a protective case or a screen chammy, so those would be worthy investments.
Because the Motorola Q lacks a touch screen, you must use a set of controls below the display and along the right spine to navigate through the menus and to launch apps. First, below the screen, there are two soft keys, the Send and End buttons for phone calls, a Home shortcut, a Back key, and a five-way navigation toggle. Taking more design cues from the Razr, the Q has a sleek layout for its keys, but since they're set flush with the phone's surface, you'll want to make sure to press each button firmly to register the action. Easier to use are the scrollwheel (pushing in the jog dial will act as a Select button) and a Back key on the right side--very reminiscent of controls on a BlackBerry.
The integrated QWERTY keyboard went through a couple of iterations during the Motorola Q's design period, but we're pretty happy with the results. The bubbly keys have a rubbery feel to them, so they're incredibly tactile. And whereas the Treo's keyboard feels a bit cramped, the Q's has a spacious layout. Motorola also incorporates a camera and a speakerphone-activation button into the keyboard; both are located on the bottom-right side, just to the right of the spacebar. Our only complaint would be that the backlighting is dim for typing in darker environments.
The back of the Motorola Q houses the camera lens, the flash, and the stereo speakers. The battery is removable, and an extended cell is available for purchase, although it will add just 0.1 inch of bulk. On the left spine, you'll find the infrared port, a mini USB port, and a Mini SD card slot. One minor note about the last item: It's protected by an attached cover, but the rubber is pretty inflexible, so it took us a few attempts at prying it open. It might help to have nails or to use some kind of edge to uncover the expansion slot. Finally, a 2.5mm headset jack is located on top of the device.
Disappointingly, Verizon is stingy with the included accessories. The Motorola Q comes packaged with only a power adapter, a USB cable, a holster, installation CDs, and user guides. Optional accessories, such as a desktop cradle, Bluetooth stereo headphones, and GPS receivers, are available for purchase through Motorola and third-party providers.
The Motorola Q's features aren't as revolutionary as its design. That's not to say the Q lacks functionality, but it doesn't offer anything that the other Windows Mobile smart phones don't have. As we mentioned earlier, the Moto Q runs Windows Mobile 5 Smartphone Edition, which means you won't get the full Mobile Office Suite--no Word Mobile, Excel Mobile, or PowerPoint Mobile. Instead, the Q comes preloaded with Picsel Viewer so that you can view but not edit said files; the app also lets you open PDFs. The device has 128MB of flash memory and 64MB of RAM, with roughly 60MB of user-accessible memory. If you plan on carrying a lot of work documents or multimedia files, do yourself a favor and get a Micro SD card, as none are included in the box.