Motorola Q ends my phone nirvana!

I came very close to calling this post "The Motorola Q Turd", but I thought that was a little brash.  After all, I have had it for about 8 months and at times it was a good phone and I even talked about it being close to Nirvana at one point.

My troubles began last fall after Moto provided a firmware update that allowed push mail from Exchange.  Some good things in that firmware update where that the phone was more responsive and push mail is HUGE.  But, my phone started turning itself off, and I wasn't able to reliably make/receive phone calls or sync data.

So, I submitted bugs to the Windows Mobile team.  They came back and said that both were known issues and were due to Moto/Verizon's implementation of Windows Mobile on the hardware.

  • The issue of it powering off is most likely due to Moto deciding that even in Device Lock mode, holding the power button shuts off the device.  There are two types of locks on the Q: keylock and device lock.  The security policies pushed down from our Exchange servers force device lock, which mean that you have to enter a password to use the phone.  The theory is that the power button (aka the end call button) gets bumped in the holster, backpack, or purse (not mine of course) and powers off the phone.  Keylock works correctly in that it won't let you power off the phone.  The Cingular blackjack is much better in this regard because it has a discrete power button on the top of the unit where it is less likely to get bumped.

  • The issue of it not being able to receive or make calls or data is blamed on the radio stack.  Radio stacks are created by the provider and optimized for their network.  In the case of the Q, the radio stack goes buh-bye and screws up a bunch of stuff including voice calls, data, and even its ability to detect the battery being charged.  Often times when it was in this state, I would plug it in to the charger (not USB) and noticed that it wouldn't change the charging display icon, and if I left it plugged in overnight the battery would not be charged in the morning.  Pulling the battery was the only fix.

In late November, the phone refused to boot up.  Verizon quickly replaced it with another Q, which I thought would be a good because it would eliminate any hardware problems that might have caused the phone to have these issues.

The problems persisted, and while I was skiing with my son in December, an avalanche closed the highway near the resort we were at.  My panicked wife tried all morning to call me because we had only passed through that area 30 minutes before the avalanche occurred.  At lunch I finally tried to call her and the radio stack was frozen.  I pulled the battery, and when the phone came back up I had service and 3 frantic voicemails with my wife in tears, not good.  I caught a lot of crap that day all because of the stupid phone.

I contacted Verizon in January to determine what my options were because this phone was not meeting my needs.  I was told that I was locked into a 2 year contract and that I would have to pay retail to upgrade to another phone (no business discount).  I escalated with customer service, they wouldn't budge.  I contacted the Microsoft account manager and he engaged a local engineer.  We determined that I didn't have the latest firmware on the phone from Moto, so we upgraded.  Again, I thought my issues were over.  Not even close, all the same problems except now my Bluetooth would not reliably see my headset and wouldn't always detect that it had a gateway (allowing me to use Voice Command via a button on the headset).  I gave 2 months of due diligence to troubleshooting, and I am no better off.  In fact yesterday, my wife needed me to come help make a huge financial decision and couldn't get a hold of me because the turd was off again!

Verizon has offered to allow me to buy another phone now at our discounted price, but in no way is offering any money back because their implementation stinks.  At this point, I am going to pay the $175 to terminate my relationship with them and am switching to the Treo 750 from Cingular.

I hate being in a position where I have to discourage people from buying something that runs Microsoft software.  But IMHO, there are some big flaws in the Mobile Device ecosystem because Microsoft makes the OS, a hardware vendor makes the phone and drivers, the provider makes the radio stack, and all of them can change little parts of the OS.  Is there too much freedom or too many chefs in the kitchen?  I think so.  I have heard that Treo is doing a much better job in owning the entire platform, so I will give them a try.

I wish Verizon would have worked with me a bit more, especially after determining these were issues that they own.  Wouldn't it be great if they had customer service like Bose?

Comments (14)

  1. quato says:

    By "this guy" do you mean me (the author)?  I can guarantee you that I have had a hell of a lot more Windows Mobile, and PPCPE that you have and am a power user.

    I was trying to express that these are inherent issues with Verizon/Moto’s implementation of Windows Mobile and no registry hacks or user configuration will solve the issues.

    A radio stack freezing and not allowing calls or data will not be solved by a registry hack.  Looking down and seeing that the phone somehow turned itself off is not going to be solved with a registry hack.  And there is not a registry hack to disable the power button in device lock mode, this is decided by the carrier/OEM.

    Do you think it is right that you have to pull the battery or turn off the phone for it to occasionally recognize that a charger has been plugged in?  Does your $.99 Nokia require any of these “special” considerations?

  2. Anonymous says:

    I know I come across as a whiner sometimes about gadgets, especially phones . It’s just that I want one

  3. quato says:

    No problem.  I just re-read my comment post and I seemed over grumpy.  Sorry about that.

  4. quato says:

    What is really weird is that I have many friends that don’t have any issue either.  Some are Microsoft employees that abuse their phones for email and voice, and some are neighbors that use it as a traditional phone.

    I had a hard time believeing that I could get two bad pieces of hardware, and thought that maybe it was me!  But after 2 months of back and forth with Verizon engineers, they shrugged their shoulders and offered me a discounted, similar phone (probably to get me out of their inbox).  🙂

  5. Keith Combs says:

    By the way, I’ve had a Q for almost 12 months and my experience has been the exact opposite.  Mine works very nicely.

  6. mike says:

    When you switch phones, can you post about your experience with the 750?  I won one at the Vista/Office launch, but I like my Razr that I have now with Cingular, so I am trying to find a reason to justify an extra $40 a month for the better data plan so I could use that.

  7. HHorton says:

    The Apple model is starting to look good. They control everything from Alpha to Omega, even if they have a partner… But, you really pay for the integration in the end.

  8. David says:

    Humm interesting..  But some of the information is correct but some is due to carrier not the phone..  

    Charging issues: It is true when using the power cord to charge while the phone is on, it seems that the phone does not charge correctly.  I personally use the USB to my PC and it charges fine.  I have also been able to get a complete charge from powering off the phone and then connecting it to the power cord.  

    Push mail:  Well I use this for work email and have not had any issues at all..  Matter of fact I get the email on my Q before my desktop does..  kind of weird.  (Sounds like this guy has never setup push mail before, as there is a check box to save password)

    Power off issues:  My phone has never powered off on its own.  It does go to sleep mode just like all other PDA’s.  As for the button I do not understand as I have a Motorola case and never had this happen to my Q.  The power button is flush with the PDA so he must have a weird case.  Plus you have to hold the button down to power off.  Again weird case

    Receiving calls during Data problems:  There is a Reg hack for this if this guy us having issues.  This could be due to Verizon issue.  Review MOTOQ website

    Price:  Well I got mine for $99.00 and I also got 300 SMS messages for free per month.  Unsure what Verizon offers but for Sprint users you really need to talk with Retentions when you have an issue.  Depending on the amount of time you have been a Sprint Customer they will bend over backwards to keep you.  

    Overall I suspect that this guy has no clue on how to configure a PDA let alone done any research.  After four or more years of dealing with PDA’s you have to read forums and learn the tips and tricks to configuring and making them function for you.  It’s like a Microsoft OS on desktop..  If you installed it and did no configuration then something won’t work and you will be complaining.    

  9. David says:

    Please accept my apology as I did not read carefully enough to understand your article.. my mistake.  

  10. Jim Kutney says:

    My Microsoft email will get stuck repeatedly sending emails to the recipients.  This only occurs when I send emails larger than 1-3 MB in size.  (From time to time, I send these size emails because of the nature of my work.)

    Has anyone had this type of problem before?  How could it (or could it) be related to the email feature on the Q?

    Any ideas welcome….


  11. Doug W says:


    I have encountered the same problem of late but with much smaller file sizes. In two instances my email was stuck in a loop repeating the same two messages–one inbound from sender a, and an outbound to recipient b.  More recently I had this issue with a forwarded message that repeated 30 times. I have no clue as to the cause but at least it helps to know this was not an isolated issue.

  12. Doug says:

    I have a new Q and it is shutting off and is off at random times.  I took it back and they gave me another new phone at an ATT affiliate store where I bought it.  The new one does the same thing.  If I leave it on and charge it on the regular power charger over night it sometimes is off in the morning and I have to pull the battery to get it to start up.

    Sounds lke many other posts I have read, but is there a fix?

  13. Dan Fitzgerald says:

    I just purchased a Motorola Q. The trouble I am having is getting my E-Mail. When I am away from the store where I purchased the phone I can’t get the Mail, as soon as I go back to the store the mail comes to the phone.

  14. Jakub Keller says:

    I’ve had my Q now for about 9 months now. I have only had the device lock up once and then was when I had a low battery. The factory battery is my only gripe about the Q, but buying an extended battery I got the thing to go without a charge for a good 3 days straight with usage. Other than that, I have probably done everything you could to a Q. I’ve installed almost every cool known mobile app available, I’ve played with registry settings, I use the Q with my GPS receiver and map addresses using either Google Maps or Windows Live, I have updated the firmware, I use PDANet and use the Q as a modem for my laptop with no hitch, people always tell me the clarity of my voice on the phone is incredible, I use the phone to check my email, create/edit Word/Excel/PowerPoint documents, surf the web and read my rss feeds, I also have my phone communicate with the Exchange server here at work without any issues. This is by far the best phone I have ever seen. My wife has a new Blackberry and she constantly seems to be having problems with that phone. I also have a collegue that bought a new Samsung smartphone and has had problems with that as well. I can’t believe what an amazing phone the Q is. I was mighty skeptical having it be a Motorola, but I’m sure I’ll have this phone for a long long time.

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