Since it took over Symbol back in 2006, Motorola has been a leader in the enterprise handheld market, and its new MC9500 product looks set to cement that position.
The rugged MC9500 is aimed at workers who are likely to encounter more challenging conditions than your average mobile professional.
The MC9500 is not in the least bit stylish — but then, it's not designed to be. This is an industrial-grade Windows Mobile (6.1) device that resists being dropped (MIL-STD 810G/multiple 1.8m drops onto concrete), immersed in water (IP67 sealing) or generally thrown around (exceeds IEC specifications). You're most likely to see the MC9500 in the hands of delivery drivers, field service personnel and other mobile workers who need a device that won't give up the ghost when the going gets tough.
What's special about the 623g MC9500 is not just that it packs an impressive set of features into its 8.9cm (wide) by 23.4cm (deep) by 5.08cm (thick) frame, but that it's an extremely flexible device, thanks to its modular design. For example, it has a user-swappable mobile broadband module for (US) customers who need both 3G/HSDPA and CDMA/EVDO connectivity (Motorola calls this 'MAX FlexWAN') and swappable keyboard options — alpha primary, numeric telephony, numeric calculator, full alphanumeric ('MAX Keypad' in Moto-talk). It's based on an 806MHz Marvell PXA320 processor with 128MB of RAM and 512MB of Flash, with a microSD card slot for storage expansion. Wi-Fi support includes 802.11a/b/g, but not the recently-ratified 802.11n. Bluetooth (2.1+EDR) and GPS are also integrated, along with infrared (IrDA) and a 3-megapixel camera with LED flash. The camera can be combined with either a 1D laser scanner or a 2D imager.
The VGA-resolution screen measures 3.7in. across the diagonal. The MC9500 has an accelerometer that not only switches screen orientation in the usual way, but also keeps a log of every 'free fall event' and puts the device to sleep when it's placed face down.
The MC9500 packs a hefty 4,800mAh Li-ion battery that delivers a claimed 8 hours of talk time and 150 hours standby. The device also sports a laptop-style charge-remaining and battery health indicator, which we've not seen before on a handheld.
There's one more bit of Moto-speak worth mentioning: a modular system of accessories called 'MAX Backroom Management'. This is a backwards-compatible/future-proofed set of multi-bay cradles, chargers, power supplies, cables and wall brackets.
The Motorola MC9500 will ship in volume in mid-October, but can be ordered from 18 September. US pricing ranges between $2,395 and $3,295 depending on specification.