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CTIA 2008

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Moto Z9 Sprint Instinct Sprint PTT Kyocera Nokia  

Apr 1, 2008, 8:00 AM   by Eric Zeman & Rich Brome   @phonescooper
updated Apr 3, 2008, 8:40 PM

Our coverage of THE big US cell phone show. Hands-on with new phones from Samsung, Kyocera, Nokia, LG, Sanyo, Motorola, Playboy, Sharper Image, Clarity, HTC, ZTE, Velocity, Sony Ericsson, and a tour of Windows Mobile 6.1.

Motorola's Z9 is essentially a slider version of the RAZR2 V9. The styling and features are very similar. AT&T has a North-American exclusive on the Z9, and they will be offering it in the same "mahogany" color as the RAZR2 V9 they currently offer.

The Z9 does add a few tricks, such as video sharing and GPS that supports navigation services (LBS). This will be AT&T's first video sharing phone that isn't a Samsung or LG. This is also AT&T's first feature phone (non-smartphone) to support navigation software.


Motorola Z9

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

First impressions of the Z9: it's a big phone. Like the RAZR2, it's a bit wider and taller than your average phone. Unfortunately, it doesn't manage the same impressive thin-ness of its clamshell cousin. It feels large in your hand, and a bit heavy as well. It's not "thick", but by modern standards it's not especially thin, either. You'd think that with only one QVGA display - instead of two like the RAZR2 - they'd be able to shave some thickness; apparently not.

If you can get past the size, though, there's a lot to like. It feels solid and very high-quality. The slide mechanism is excellent. The screen is huge and lovely. It's as much of a finger print magnet as it looks, but the same can be about most stylish phones these days.

The keys look like trouble, but they're surprisingly easy to use. The little chrome bumps are just pronounced enough to not miss, yet low and smooth enough to not be uncomfortable. The size of the phone is an advantage here: having the keys so spaced out goes a long way toward making them easy to use. Even the odd-looking soft keys and d-pad did not give us any trouble in our first few hours of use.

The 2 megapixel camera seems to produce decent photos. It's certainly above-average quality for a Motorola. A very bright LED flash helps in low-light situations. Unlike some smaller LED flashes, this one is actually useful. The camera UI is excellent, providing easy access to all key functions. It works in either landscape or portrait mode, depending on whether the phone is open or closed, respectively. The viewfinder is always completely full-screen, and photos are always captured and stored exactly as seen in the viewfinder, with no unexpected cropping.


Z9 screens

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

The user interface is Motorola's older "Synergy" platform. It will look familiar to any long-time Motorola user, but Motorola has continued to tweak and enhance it. The graphics don't like nearly as dated as past Motos, and many menu actions are now accompanied by some kind of nifty animation. The main menu has a fade-in effect, and some menus and alerts slide or zoom on and off the screen. A very speedy processor means menus are extremely snappy; everything happens pretty much instantly.

All in all, the Z9 leaves a mostly positive first impression. It's a powerful phone with no obvious flaw in its implementation. The one catch is the size and weight. It will fit fine in just about any pocket, but the weight won't let you forget it's there.

On the flip side, the size does allow for a huge display and well-spaced keys. The interface also features very large text in all areas, in an easy-to-read font that is anti-aliased (smoothed) for extra clarity. For those looking for the largest keys and display text possible, the Z9 will be worth a serious look.



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Subject Author Date
Nokia N810 ogfish Apr 22, 2008, 1:25 PM
Instinct UI Question tuolumne Apr 2, 2008, 5:09 PM
Sony phones? John Quick Apr 4, 2008, 2:20 AM
Samsung Glyde aviduzer Apr 4, 2008, 7:43 PM
Samsung Soul nbky1cp Apr 2, 2008, 3:23 PM
Joby Zivio??? cellphonesaretools Apr 5, 2008, 10:59 AM
Windows Mobile 6.1 Adam7986 Apr 3, 2008, 7:28 PM
Isn't Sharper Image Bankrupt? LordObento Apr 3, 2008, 11:33 PM
Again T-Mobile fails to deliver terryjohnson16 Apr 1, 2008, 5:19 PM
Hey Rich... LG Phones nbky1cp Apr 3, 2008, 5:04 PM
video link Jonathanlc2005 Apr 3, 2008, 5:56 PM
Video Calling bentos88 Apr 2, 2008, 3:09 PM
Where is the video? Dogism Apr 2, 2008, 1:54 PM
VZW's enV2 sckoisks17 Apr 2, 2008, 5:58 PM
oh snap! groundhog_day Apr 3, 2008, 11:17 AM
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