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The Revenge of the BlackBerry killers?

Putting the Nokia E61i and Motorola Q9H head to head

The Bonus ball?

The E61i earns an honorable mention for being the only one here whose firmware is upgradeable from home. But no comparison would be fair without mentioning one special feature the E61i brings with it: VoIP calling. Nokia has integrated a SIP stack with hooks into the Symbian OS power management, so WLAN calling takes up very little power. It's also integrated it right into the UI - so you can set the phone to make all calls VoIP calls by default. Setting up a service such as Truphone or AQL can be done in 10 minutes - at which point the phone really starts to pay for itself. Equally, it can integrate into your office VoIP PBX.

Award the E61i a bonus 10, here.

"Hi! I'm a PC! ... Hi! I'm a Mac!"

Not too surprisingly, the Q9 scores highest with Windows integration. ActiveSync, which is now built into Vista, allows you to browse the device easily, sets up a Sync folder, and has that tight integration with WMP. Nokia has significantly improved its Mac support in recent months, and the E61i (and even the 9300i) now syncs via cable or Bluetooth with Mac OS X's iCal and Address Book. A separate application which recently entered public beta, Nokia MultiMedia Transfer, adds iPhoto and iTunes integration.

Q9-toting Mac users will need MarkSpace's Missing Sync 4.0 for Windows Mobile 6.0 support - but it's a mature product that once installed, gives you the transcoding and folder sync features of ActiveSync for the PC.

Motorola 9/10; Nokia 7/10; Ye Olde Communicator: 6/10


Although Microsoft gave up on the mass market phone long ago, after Stinger, it plugs away at the messaging niche dominated by RIM. With the Q9, Motorola has produced the first Windows Mobile phone that knocks out a Nokia rival for usability, performance and ease of use. Tot up the scores here, and the Q9 wins 92 to 75, and that includes a generous 10 point advantage for Nokia's SIP integration. I didn't score the corporate mail comparison, so if you're an Exchange shop that lead extends even further.

Nokia E61i, Motorola Q9 and 9300 Communicator comparison table

Nokia E61i, Motorola Q9 and 9300 Communicator compared

Nokia's bonus is that it does VoIP, Motorola's is that it's an excellent music and video player. It's just a shame neither of them can match the old Communicator as a PDA, or for real ease of use: the 9300i scores an 86.

My hunch is that we'll see more devices like the Palm Folio or Datawind that fill this niche, as a "phone companion". The big phone manufacturers don't seem to be able to do it themselves, nor do they have any incentive to; hence the relentless propaganda about "convergence". That may be wishful thinking on my part, of course, but a significant part of the business market remains poorly served. ®

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