Reviewed November 3, 2008 by Lisa Gade, Editor
T-Mobile's got you covered with 2 multimedia Motorola phones: first the Moto ROKR E8 for music lovers, and now the MOTOZINE ZN5 for camera buffs. The Zine ZN5 shares the E8's modern good looks with front faces that look like they've been sliced from a slab of industrial metal and slim profiles. But the Zine forgoes the E8's haptics and dons a Kodak camera back that looks sleek, high quality and convincingly camera-ish. The Zine is definitely a good looking, well made phone.
The MOTOZINE ZN5 is a quad band GSM phone offered by T-Mobile in the US. It has EDGE for data and WiFi that's there mostly for the included Kodak Easyshare image uploading software (a free service that allows you to upload photos directly to your own web gallery among other things). It has a QVGA display, music player, Bluetooth with A2DP stereo, voice dialing, a very good HTML web browser and most important: a 5 megapixel camera with an autofocus lens and Xenon flash. That's a very nice package for $99 with a 2 year contract.
The good news in that the Zine ZN5 has an SDHC microSD card slot. The bad news is that it's under the battery door and you must remove the battery to access the card. As a consolation, you can transfer images using Bluetooth, USB and WiFi and thus not need to remove the card. Motorola and T-Mobile state that the max supported capacity is 4 gigs, though the SDHC standard goes higher, hmmm.
In the Box
T-Mobile and Motorola include a 3.5mm stereo earbud headset (yes, the phone has a 3.5mm jack and not something annoyingly proprietary), USB cable, charger, CD with Kodak software, 1 gig microSD card and a serious manual.
Software and OS
The phone runs Motorola's Linux/Java platform and it's reasonably responsive. Some user interface items are boggling in the short term (why is T-Zones in the main palette of icons while the full HTML browser is buried in a text-based menu under Fun & Apps? But it won't take long to find where everything is. This platform is quite powerful by feature phone standards and it's got an excellent open source HTML web browser that does a very good job of rendering non-mobile sites, a good file manager and other amenities like Java for games and add-on applications. We couldn't get Opera Mini 4.1 running on our review phone; it gave a network connection failed error, and we hope that's the result of the phone's account settings rather than an issue with Opera.
The phone comes with Moto's really good voice recognition software. Press and hold the call send button to start Moto's VR voice recognition that handles voice dialing and a variety of other commands. VR worked well in our tests and was very accurate. There are also IM clients (AIM, ICQ, Yahoo and Window Live) and T-Mobile's personal email application that supports web-based services like AIM, Earthlink, Juno, Gmail, SBC Yahoo and HotPOP.
The pink button is the camera shutter button. Also on this side are the key lock and volume keys.
As well as being a standalone camera replacement, the MOTOZINE ZN5 is a strong mobile phone. It's a quad band GSM world phone that supports all the world's GSM bands (850/900/1800/1900MHz) with GPRS and EGE for data. Sorry, no 3G here. As a consolation, it has WiFi, but that's here for the camera image transfer and doesn't seem to be used for web browsing. There is no UMA calling for T-Mobile @Home service either. The phone does display a WiFi icon on the home screen when connected to a WiFi network.
The 3.5mm stereo headset jack and USB port (under a fiddly rubber cover) are on this side.
Voice quality is typical Moto: very clear. Volume is average to a bit above by GSM standards, and outgoing call quality is strong in terms of quality and volume. The phone works with mono and stereo Bluetooth headsets and we had no problems pairing and using a selection of current headsets with the Zine ZN5.
Clearly, the 5 megapixel camera with Kodak imaging technology is the Zine ZN5's claim to distinction. It has an autofocus lens that's relatively fast by camera phone standards and a Xenon flash that's significantly more effective that the more common LED camera phone flash. The camera runs in landscape mode and uses the entire screen as the viewfinder. The interface is a little funky and not as intuitive as the Sony Ericsson K850i's or the Nokia N95 and N82. But as with the other user interface elements, once you get a hang of it, you'll do just fine. The camera uses the d-pad to display and change a variety of common settings like white balance, flash (on, off, auto and red eye) and light setting (low light on/off). The selections pop up on screen and change as you hit the d-pad in a given direction. There's also a softkey menu with more settings for things like panorama mode, multi-shot mode, save location, image prefix and resolution. When in the camera, you can access the gallery and send a photo via MMS or Bluetooth or upload images to the Kodak Gallery if you wish (press the pink button next to the 5 key that lights up when the camera is running).
Images are certainly very good for a camera phone, and it competes decently with the N95, N82, Samsung Omnia and Sony Ericsson K850i (all 5MP GSM camera phones). Indoor images taken under good, mostly fluorescent lighting (say at a Walmart or a mall) tend to have slightly weak colors with some over-exposure of light areas (see supermarket veggie photo below) even without the flash. Flash shots look like flash shots (that Xenon flash is bright!) and you'll see some over-exposure but nothing to complain about. The phone tends to over-sharpen foreground/near subjects, and images would look better with a softer focus, but these can be toned down with some image processing. That said, overall the MOTOZINE's images are very good. Certainly for a phone that's only $99 with a 2 year contract, this is an absolutely marvelous high end camera phone. The unlocked GSM Nokia N95 and Sony Ericsson K850i may take more pleasing photos, but you'll never find them near this price.
Strangely, the video recorder is a low spec affair, with a max resolution of just 144 x 176. Videos look nice, though obviously they're rather small.
Sample Camera Photos
These were taken at maximum 5MP setting, and the original file size averages 1.6 megs (rather large for a 5MP camera phone). Click on a photo too see a 1000 x 750 version of the image (averaging 220k).
Though the ZN5's focus isn't on music, it has a very competent music player complimented by a standard 3.5mm stereo headphone jack (earbuds included) and A2DP Bluetooth stereo. The player has an EQ, spatial audio (stereo separation), bass boost, playlists and sort by artist, title, composer, genre and etcetera. It supports MP3, AAC, AAC+, WAV, WMV 9 and 10 formats as well as XFM. There's also an FM radio player and a voice recorder.
If you're a camera buff and haven't wanted to spend $500 on an import 5 megapixel GSM camera phone, the MOTOZINE is the heart of temptation. At $99 it's a bargain given the very good camera, solid build, great looks and strong voice quality for calls. The web browser is surprisingly good for a feature phone and music support is very good as well. We like!
TFT color LCD. Screen size diagonally: 2.4". Resolution:
240 x 320.
Battery:Moto BX50 Lithium
Ion rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable.
Performance:Up to 350 megs internal memory. Undisclosed CPU.
Size:4.6 x 2.0 x 0.46 inches. Weight: 3.9 ounces.
Phone:GSM quad band 850/900/1800/1900MHz with EDGE.
Camera:5.0 MP with autofocus lens and Xenon flash. Can take still photos and video with audio at 144 x 176 and 96 x 128 pixels.
in speaker, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone
jack. Music player included. Music player supports MP3, AAC, AAC+, AMR, WAV, WMA versions 9 and 10, XFM. Has FM radio and voice recorder.
WiFi 802.11b/g and Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP stereo.
Software:Motorola Linux with Java OS. My Faves, T-Zones, VR (voice command and dialing), full web browser, IM, personal email, music player, video player, Kodak Easyshare software, file manager, world clock, contacts, calendar, alarm clock, tasks, notes, talking menus and 2 java game demos.
SDHC microSD card slot, compatible with cards up to 4 gigs.