I recently had an opportunity to spend a bit of time with a highly-anticipated smartphone, the Motorola Q.
I only had access to it for a few minutes, and it was a pre-production model, but I still wanted to share my thoughts on the device.
The main thing you have to keep in mind when using the Q is that, although it looks very much like a Pocket PC, it isn't one. Instead, it's a Windows Mobile Smartphone, which means it doesn't have a touchscreen.
It takes a bit of getting used to, but Microsoft's Smartphone operating system has been designed to be used one-handed, so you soon learn to get around with just the jog wheel. The D-pad is nice, but the jog wheel is much easier and quicker to use.
Of course you can push in on the jog wheel to select things, and there's a Back button just underneath it (see picture below).
The lack of a Touchscreen has affected the design in many ways. For example, on a typical handheld the jog wheel is on the left side, because you're supposed to hold the device in your left hand and tap on the screen with the stylus in your right hand.
Because there's no need for a stylus, the Motorola Q has been designed to be held in your right hand, so its jog wheel is on the right side.
Concerns About the Screen
There are a couple of things about the Motorola Q's screen that make me very nervous.
This won't be the first Windows Mobile Smartphone with a 320-by-240-pixel (QVGA) screen, but it will be the first one with a QVGA screen in landscape mode by default.
I'm a bit concerned that this is going to cause software incompatibilities.
Also, there's no built-in screen protection.
The Motorola representative I talked to said that this device is intended to be carried around in your pocket without a case. To make this easier, its miniSD card slot has a flexible cover to prevent pocket lint from gumming up the works.
But there's nothing whatsoever to keep your keys from scratching up the screen.
Also, when your using the Q as a phone, you're going to have to press the display up against your cheek, which will inevitably smear it a bit.
Still, the same can be said of the smartphones the Q has been created to compete with, like Treos and BlackBerries.
And this model does fit well in the pocket. It's wider than your typical phone, but much thinner.
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