capsule review

Motorola Motozine ZN5 Camera Phone

At a Glance
  • Motorola Motozine ZN5

    PCWorld Rating

    Inexpensive phone has a high-quality camera, but speed and design are compromised.

The Motorola Motozine ZN5 is part cell phone, part digital camera. It's the brainchild of a partnership between Motorola and Kodak, boasting a 5-megapixel camera with a bevy of impressive settings and features. And at $99 (after a $100 mail-in rebate) it comes at an unbeatable price--it's much less expensive than the Nokia N95 (approximately $500, unlocked), which also has a 5-megapixel camera. But Motorola put so much effort into the camera component that it compromised on other aspects of the phone, such as design and 3G support.

Face up, the Motozine ZN5 is a typical candy-bar-shaped phone. It has a bright, 2.4-inch, 320-by-240-pixel screen, and beneath that lies a flat keypad (with small, tactile bumps on the number keys). The handset also has dedicated keys for different camera functions, such as photo reviewing and sharing.

Flip the ZN5 over, and it looks like a stand-alone point-and-shoot camera, complete with a Xenon flash and lens cover. Unfortunately the lens cover is flimsy and easily pops up in a bag or pocket.

Either way you turn it, the ZN5 still resembles a slab of concrete. In spite of that, however, it feels good in the hand, both as a camera and as a phone. Weighing about 4 ounces, the ZN5 is sturdy without being too bulky, and it's constructed with a combination of hard and soft plastic that makes it comfortable to hold for long periods of time.

And you'll want to hang on to this phone for every photo opportunity, because the camera, the ZN5's headline feature, is superb. It starts automatically when you slide open the lens cover or when you press the dedicated camera key on the phone's side. The 5-megapixel camera has autozoom, a low-light setting, three focus settings (auto, landscape, and macro), five white-balance settings, panoramic and multishot modes, an autotimer, and six shutter sounds.

The camera has some limitations; for one, you can't manually adjust the shutter speed or set the aperture. The click-to-capture speed is about 0.02 seconds, though, which is faster than most mobile phones and even some stand-alone cameras. The camera automatically adjusts aperture and shutter speed depending on the environmental lighting.

After you're done snapping pictures, you can edit your photos on the camera. Among other things, you can resize, rotate, or crop; adjust brightness, contrast, or sharpness; and add image borders and graphics. Kodak's Perfect Touch feature--a one-touch photo enhancer that lightens dark areas and deepens colors--is another useful included editing tool. Unfortunately, you can't edit your recorded videos; you can only trim their length for video messages.

When you've edited your photos to your liking, you can transfer them to your PC with the included USB cable or 1GB microSD card, or via text message. You can also upload them wirelessly to the Kodak Photo Gallery, where you can share the pics and order prints.

In my hands-on tests, photo quality was very good, about the best I've seen from a mobile phone. Colors appeared accurate and bright, with very little interference. The Xenon flash was a little too bright, however, often blowing out my pictures. Videos weren't as crisp, but still looked good. The ZN5 has a panorama mode, too. When I first heard about it at CTIA, I thought it seemed a bit gimmicky and useless. But in actuality, I really enjoyed playing with this feature, and I had fun taking action shots with it.

The ZN5 connects over T-Mobile's EDGE quad-band network, but also supports Wi-Fi. The browser loaded pages at a moderate speed and displayed them clearly, but with limited Java support. The ZN5 definitely could benefit from a faster 3G connection, particularly for the photo-uploading features. Connecting through Wi-Fi didn't really increase the speed.

Call quality, enhanced by Motorola's CrystalTalk technology, was very good. My contacts sounded clear, though a little quiet. Parties on the other end consistently reported very good sound quality with little background noise. The battery lasted 10 hours in our lab tests--the maximum amount of time that we test.

The ZN5 has the standard Moto media player, which supports WMA, MP3, and AAC, plus a few other types of audio files. Unlike other Motorola phones, such as the Rokr E8, the ZN5 does not support protected AAC from the iTunes store. The media player is pretty bare-bones: You can browse your music by recently played, artists, albums, genres, and composers. The ZN5 offers no music-store app, but you can sync your music library on your PC to your phone via Windows Media Player 11. The handset also includes an FM radio, which triggers when you plug in the included headphones. If you prefer, you can swap those headphones for better ones, since the ZN5 has a standard 3.5mm jack.

Audio quality for the most part was good but not stellar. Video quality, on the other hand, was worse than I expected; I saw a lot of blurriness and interference in the videos I played in my hands-on tests.

The Motorola Motozine ZN5 might not be the most eye-catching handset or the fastest phone around, but its impressive camera makes those small faults forgivable. And you can't beat the $100 price.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Inexpensive phone has a high-quality camera, but speed and design are compromised.

    Pros

    • Excellent camera with many features
    • Superior battery life

    Cons

    • Lacks 3G support
    • Uninspired design
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