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Motorola M990 / Motorola Smart Rider

 Motorola Smart Rider / M990 Discontinued
9th April 2008

Do you remember when mobile phones were called carphones? Devices that were so big and heavy that they couldn't really be carried around and had to stay in the car? If you have a long memory, or if you live in the UK where the Carphone Warehouse is based then the answer might well be yes.

It turns out that Motorola also remember the carphone, and the Motorola M990 (also known as the Motorola Smart Rider) harks back to earlier times, being a mobile handset that is specifically designed to be installed in a vehicle.

It's a strange looking device, in part due to the wide 320 x 240 pixel 2.8" display that gives a clue that the M990 Smart Rider is nothing like the carphones of the past.

 Motorola M990 / Motorola smartRider The large display is used in conjunction with the M990's GPS based satellite navigation system. But GPS isn't the only trick up the M990's sleeve, it also features an advanced voice recognition system that can be used for dialling calls or handset control, Bluetooth, an email client, web browser and quad-band GSM with GPRS and EDGE data support.

This is a big handset with a footprint of 137mm x 85mm and it weighs in at around 400 grams. The large size is an advantage for in-car use (where permitted), but it's not the sort of thing that you would want to carry around with you.

The M990 itself connects to all the other components via an "Octopus Cable". This means that the M990 will usually require a professional installation. The handset itself can be unplugged from the cable, so it can be removed from the car or truck when not in use.

The Motorola M990 is aimed at professional drivers rather than normal business customers or consumers. So, if you're a delivery driver, chauffeur, taxi driver or some other type of road warrior then the M990 may well be of interest. Perhaps this is a small market, but it is one that is not very well served and it's quite refreshing to see Motorola come up with something that is nicely tailored for this customer demographic.

The navigation system on the M990 Smart Rider integrates traffic reports and features real-time rerouting. It can also be connected to a suitable fleet management application to allow for vehicle tracking.

In addition, the M990 Smart Rider features 4 user profiles, which is useful when more than one person drives a vehicle, and it has an MP3 player with a 2GB microSD card included in the standard sales package.

This is a niche product, but it appears to be very well implemented. Motorola say that the M990 Smart Rider should be available worldwide from June 2008 onwards, although no guidance was given on cost.

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Motorola M990 Smart Rider at a glance


June 2008


GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900




320 x 240 pixels




Large monoblock
137 x 85mm / 400 grams approx



Memory card:







Not specified



Battery life:

Not specified (connected to vehicle battery)


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