Even if it has reduced its personnel to the lowest numbers in all the history of the company, the mobile division of Motorola still lives, and another phone faces the light of day. Motorola U9 is a mid-budget clamshell that targets those people that remained faithful fans of the brand. Small, sleek, but above all incredibly aerodynamic, Motorola U9 was launched in an effort to limit the disastrous financial results registered last year.
Thanks to PureMobile
, we had the pleasure to receive the phone, thus we can offer you an extended review of the clamshell.
Announced in October 2007, Motorola U9 clamshell was effectively launched on the market in February 2008. The handset was released in a few nice colors such as grey, red, pink and gold. Motorola ROKR U9
can be bought for around 120 USD, depending on the location and plan. Design
Motorola ROKR U9 shines on so many levels when it comes to design. At first glance, the aerodynamic form of the device will catch your eye. The second trait that will get your attention is the shiny plastic used for manufacturing it. While the front part of the clamhsell, which features the secondary external display, is fully covered by this shiny, rich looking plastic, the back of the phone is made from a rubber-like material that feels great when you keep the gadget in your hand. The right side of the phone features a small Voice Recording key, which enables user to dial numbers by simply saying the name of the contact. On the left side of the clamshell, there's a dedicated camera button and a dual volume key.
The proprietary microUSB port has been placed on the bottom side of the device. The 2-megapixel camera on the front part of the clamshell is covered by a thin colorless plastic, which protects it against possible scratches. Also, you'll be able to use the touch sensitive music keys placed right under the small external display, but only when the music player is playing. The keypad of the phone looks standard and has pretty large keys. They have medium responsiveness, which means you must press them a little bit harder; otherwise, they offer a nice texting experience.
Control of the menu is done easily with the big D-pad button and the two soft keys. Besides the usual Back (Delete) key, Motorola also included a special multimedia key that opens up the music player when it's pressed. Right above the keypad, on the upper left corner, there's a small ambient light sensor.
The backlighting of the phone is great, so using it in dark areas won't create users any problems. The 2-inch main display doesn't touch the keypad thanks to the small rubber placed at the bottom of the keys. Motorola U9 measures 90 x 48.6 x 16.4 mm and weighs exactly 87.5g (including battery).
The clamshell mechanism is pretty sturdy, which makes the phone look solid. Even if it's a little bit harder, users will still be able to open the clamshell with only one hand. Overall, Motorola U9 seems to please through its nice form factor and lines, but let's see what's underneath this beautiful clothing. Display and Camera
Motorola ROKR U9 embeds a very nice TFT (240 x 320 pixels) display, which supports 262K colors. The quality of the image is way above average, colors are very well defined making the contrast extremely vivid. When exposed under strong sunlight, the display performs very well, which means that you'll be able to use it outdoors too. The secondary OLED display supports 65K colors and 128x160 pixel resolution and can also be seen under the sunlight.
The 2-megapixel camera found on the front part of the clamshell doesn't have any features except for 8x digital zoom. The camera can be started by simply pressing the Camera button found on the left side of the clamshell. You can also set one of the shortcuts from the D-pad to open the camera interface. The preview of the picture cannot be seen in full screen. There are no additional settings for the camera, so as soon as you open up the module, you'll be able to shoot pictures. Saving snapshots takes little time, but requires extra handling of the menu.
As seen in the sample pictures, quality is above average, especially considering that this is a 2-megapixel camera. It seems to be highly dependent on light conditions and tends to lack sharpness and sometimes it will blur the objective.Menu and Software
Motorola ROKR U9 runs Linux operating system and features a very basic user interface. It seems to be a graphically updated Synergy GUI, which has been stripped of most of the advanced features. This makes the learning curve of the interface very short, as it has a very high accessability. The Phonebook can take up to 1,000 contacts, which have more fields that users can fill in: Email, URL, ringer ID, Picture or Birthday. The Recent calls category simply presents the calls history and it's very easy to navigate through Dialed calls, Received calls, Missing calls or Frequent calls with the big D-pad button. Messages category enables you to use a wide range of messaging solutions like SMS, EMS, MMS and Emails.
There's also an iTap dictionary that helps users type their messages faster that, of course, can be deactivated. The Office Tools category contains the network operator services, a simple calculator (which includes a currency converter), a task list, a rudimentary alarm clock, dialing services, notepad, calendar, file manager, Email, world clock, download manager and MotoSycn.
Games category only has Java software such as Sudoku, Motorola Text, Motorola Setup and Backup. The WebAccess category, just like its name says, gives users access to the Internet through different access points that can be set in advance or installed by the network operator. You can choose which access point to be used by default when you want to connect to the Internet through the Web Session option.
The integrated browser (Symphony 1.1) is rather mediocre and can be replaced with Opera mini if you want a better experience. The Multimedia category will give you access to the media Finder, Camera, Video Camera, Voice Recorder and Google. Connection offers users four connectivity options: Bluetooth link, USB Settings, Voice Networks and Data Connections. The last of the nine main categories, Settings, is the largest and you can do most of the important stuff from here. There are seven subcategories: Profiles, Themes, Home Screen, Call Settings, Phone Settings, Security and Network.
Motorola U9 includes Java MIDP 2.0 CLDC 1.1, with 900 KB free memory. That will enable users to install third-party Java applications in that small memory limit.Communication
As a mid-budget device, Motorola U9 only features EDGE and GPRS class 10 technologies, which are more than enough for its price. Tests revealed a medium speed in data transfer speed: 120 Kbit/s download and 70 Kbit/s upload for EDGE.
The integrated Symphony browser can format the page of any site across the width of the screen, but can also display the image in full screen. Users will be able to save any website to favorites (directly in the phone's memory), switch off the image displaying or the Java scripts. The clamshell features Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP support.
In terms of messaging, the phone accepts standard text messages, MMS, flash and sound messages, as well as emails. The message client supports the usual POP3, SMTP and IMAP4 protocols.
The quad-band (GSM 850 / GSM 900 / GSM 1800 / GSM 1900) network compatible clamshell has good GSM signal reception. The sound's clarity is pretty low and muffled during call conversations. The vibration is somewhat mediocre in intensity and cannot be set to higher levels. That will surely make you miss a lot of calls if you set the phone on Silent.Processor and Memory
Motorola U9 uses a Freescale i.MX31 CPU, which is supposed to be running at speeds of up to 532 MHz. The benchmark I use gave me a value that wasn't anywhere near that speed, so I'm assuming what Motorola says in it's official statements. As the processor is intended for use in low-power applications needing high performance, I have noticed that the phone is a little bit sluggish, especially when running more that one application.
Motorola U9 includes 34.5 MB internal memory, but only 25 MB are available to the user. The space storage can be extended to 4GB thanks to the microSD slot card, which has been placed near the SIM slot, under the battery.Multimedia
The integrated music player supports a wide range of formats such as: MP3, AAC, AAC+, WMA, OGG and AMR. It can be minimized and run in the background while you access other applications or functions of the phone. There are few settings that can be used: Equalizer, Spatial Audio, Shuffle, Auto-Repeat and Bass Boost. The music player can also be controlled using the touch sensitive music keys found under the external display, on the front part of the clamshell.
The sound quality is average, just like the music player interface. Moreover, it doesn't come with headphones in the sales package, or features a 3.5mm or 2.5mm jack port. I have also noticed that the phone will lag when the music player is run in the background and you try to browse the menu or open another application.Battery
The 740 mAh Li-Ion battery is a little bit disappointing. Even if it has an officially stated life expectancy of 350 hours in standby and seven hours in talk time mode, it failed to attain more than two hours of continuous talk. Basically, a heavy user will need to recharge it everyday or at least once in two days.Impressions
I have been pleasantly surprised by the clamshell's look, but not at all impressed by what it has to offer in terms of features. Even though it's just a mid-budget handset, I expected more than what it presently offers. I just hope that design will be more important for Motorola fans than the actual features.The Good
I have praised the phone's design, which is a little bit unusual. Another positive trait of the phone could be the low price. I would also enlist here the presence of a microSD slot and the very nice OLED external display.The Bad
I was disappointed by the battery's life expectancy and the very poor sales package, which doesn't contain anything but the phone. Also, I have noticed that sluggishness of the device, even when not running any applications at all. Sales Package
Motorola ROKR U9 handset
Motorola Battery Li-Ion 740 mAh
User's Manual (English).