To fully appreciate the size and shape of the Q 9h, we need to consider the underlying concept of the handset. The landscape display and the full QWERTY keypad easily justify the 67-mm width of the device. 118 mm high and 12 mm thick, the Q 9h is quite an agreeably sized gadget. Though not exactly the type to hang on your neck, it definitely won't tear your jacket pocket. The conservatively oblong body is livened up by the curved and sloping edges at the top and bottom.
A shiny black line runs along the sides of the handset. On the right side of the device are the Side Scroll keys with the small knob of the Side Select wedged within them. The whole arrangement works pretty much like the Jog wheel in Sony Ericsson handsets. Another similarity with Sony Ericsson is the back button right beneath the three side keys. Pressing and holding the Side Select key lets you control the master volume, using the Side Scroll keys to set the desired level. Master volume controls the ringer and all other sounds on the device, except the in-call volume level. Alternatively, pressing and holding the Back key is a shortcut to adjusting the ringing volume only.
On the opposite side of the device we have the universal port for connecting the charger, data cable and headphones. With this Windows Mobile 6 Standard device we have yet another demonstration of a recent trend. The customary miniUSB is yet again replaced by microUSB.
Rearside we have dark gray matt surface, most of which is the cover of the Li-Ion battery. A cleft at its bottom marks the loudspeaker. Overall of impressively solid build, the Q 9h only plays up a bit with the slightly loose battery cover. This of course could well be a unit-specific problem.
The rest of the back panel, or the part above the battery cover, holds the manufacturer logo dead center, and the camera lens with flash at the top. At the extreme right edge we have the microSD memory card slot, protected by a plastic cover. One thing at least is unchanged.
Top of the front panel, there's another long narrow opening going from side to side, which serves as the earpiece.
The memory card slot cap fits very tightly and is fixed to the handset's body to prevent loss. We tested a 1GB Kingston microSD card and had no issues with it. A 500MB microSD card plus an SD adapter ship with the handset.
The landscape 320 x 240 pixel screen won't surprise anyone with its resolution and 65,000 colors. The horizontal display is great for both browsing and document reading, readability is adequate even in bright sunlight. The bottom of the display flows seamlessly into the D-pad containing a pair of soft keys, Home key (used to open a quick list of options), Back key, Online key, Messages key and, of course, the usual couple of a green and a red receiver. For better touch orientation the keys are divided by thin rubber ridges. Right in the middle of this bunch of controls is the round four-way navigation button with its confirming centre. All the keys on the D-pad are doing a decent job, tactile orientation is adequate and wrong presses are far more unlikely than with KRZRs and their like.
The QWERTY keyboard has 37 keys arranged in four arched rows. Buttons on the alphanumeric keypad are convex and elevated. Almost all of the keys are assigned a primary and a secondary character, the numeric section of the keypad is marked in blue. Backlighting turns automatically on when needed, thanks to the ambient light sensor at the top right corner at the front. Both the QWERTY keyboard and the D-pad are backlit in blue, including the rim of the navigation key. Number keys backlight in a darker shade of blue. The backlighting of the keys' secondary characters is a nice surprise, as we're not used to see that all the time in the competition.
Generally, the Q 9h is very messaging-friendly; the keypad requires some practice but after that typing is very fast and error-free. The lowest row of keys is quite handy, offering instant access to calendar, contacts, multimedia (Windows Media Player), camera and voice commands. In Q 9h the thing that will require getting used to is the location of the Function Key and the Capitalize Key. Both serve as Shift in a way, but the Function key under the letter A is used for the secondary characters, while the one under Enter will capitalize letters.