updated 11:50 am EDT, Thu October 11, 2007
Motorola today surprised the market with news of the MOTO U9, a new clamshell music phone that carries on the legacy of the company's ROKR music phones. Its design borrows equally from the PEBL flip phone as well as the more recent RAZR2; the smooth outer shell is broken only by a stealth OLED display that pop ups call and music information only when needed. A set of touch-sensitive music controls on the outside translate from the RAZR2 (without haptic feedback) in addition to the CrystalTalk technology which cancels outside noise and adjusts volume to ensure an audible conversation. Its software interface and 2-megapixel camera are also new to the PEBL-like shape and are shared with some RAZR2 handsets.
Software support is just as important, Motorola says. Long since abandoning the iTunes support of past ROKRs, the U9 can be recognized as a jukebox by Windows Media Player 11 and plays AAC and MP3 tracks regardless of the computer OS. Windows users can load up WMA songs in normal and protected formats. Just 25MB of memory is built-in but is supported by a microSD slot with room for cards up to 4GB of storage.
Motorola plans to release glossy black and red versions of the U9 before the end of the year in Asia, Central America, Europe, and South America. A North American release was conspicuously absent but is very likely to follow in early 2008 with explicit support for the 850MHz frequency used by AT&T, Rogers, and T-Mobile as well as EDGE Internet access.