The Rizr Z8's 2-megapixel camera takes photos in three sizes (large, medium, and small) and two quality settings (standard and fine). Other options include six lighting modes, a self timer, a multishot mode, a flash, four color effects, sharpness and white balance settings, an 8x digital zoom, and eight shutter sounds (plus a silent option). As mentioned previously, the camera offers two lenses, one on either side of the phone. When the slider is up, the front lens, which only has a VGA resolution, is activated for taking self-portraits. When the slider is down, the rear camera is active. It's a nice touch and we liked being able to toggle between the lenses without rooting through a camera menu. And speaking of menus, the camera's interface is easy to understand, particularly with the pop-up menus.
The camcorder shoots clips in three sizes (SCQIF, QCIF, and QVGA) with sound, and you can choose from three quality settings (low, medium, and high). The remaining editing options are similar to those on the still camera. When finished with your work, you can save it to the phone's memory, or send it on to a friend via Bluetooth or MMS. Photo quality was decent with bright colors and sharp objects. The flash also helps for dim situations. Video quality was better than we've seen on many phones. Though it could still be a tad jerky, the phone's ability to record and play videos at 30fps makes a noticeable difference. The Z8 offers 80MB of user-accessible memory, which is quite respectable, but we suggest you use a memory card for maximum storage. The Z8 can handle cards up to 4GB.
Though you might be surprised that you could watch a movie on a cell phone, you can do just that on the Rizr Z8. In the main menu you'll find a Mobiclip player that can play films, or just about any other content you might desire, including podcasts. Our phone came with a full-length version of The Bourne Identity on the included 512MB microSD card. Alternatively, you can play videos or music on the Z8's generic Moto media player. You can organize tracks by playlist, but besides an airplane mode, there's not much in the features department. Likewise, the player doesn't support album art or visualizations. On the whole, it's rather underwhelming for this caliber of phone, though we like that you can use music tracks as ringtones.
You can personalize the Z8 with a variety of wallpapers, screensavers, and sounds. You can download more options, and additional ringtones, with the Opera Web browser. Our handset came with one Java (JSME) game, Asphalt2 3D.
We tested the quadband (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) Z8 in San Francisco using T-Mobile service. Voices sounded natural, and the volume was sufficiently loud, but we couldn't help but notice that the audio was patchy on a few occasions. During those instances, either the sound cut out for just a few seconds or the volume dropped somewhat lower. Though we never lost track of our conservation and the fade-outs had no distinct pattern, it was an issue that occurred more than once.
On their end, callers said they could hear us well. They could tell were using a cell phone, but that's hardly unusual. Their only complaint was that we had to keep the Z8's microphone close to our mouth in order to be heard properly. If we held the handset even a slight distance away, our friends had trouble hearing us. Automated calling systems could understand us, but be careful when you call a service that picks up right after dialing (with no audible ringing). For example, when we called United Airlines' phone number, it picked up so quickly that the Z8 didn't recognize that we had made a connection. As such, we couldn't adjust the call volume nor could we press a number key to activate an automated menu.
Speakerphone calls were quite good; the volume was loud and neither party reported any significant issues. The Z8 comes with an included Motorola S9 stereo Bluetooth headset. That's generous of Motorola as the S9 is a nice product in most regards. It worked well with the Z8.
Video quality on either media player on the Mobiclip was quite good. Though we wouldn't be comfortable watching a 2-hour film on such a small display, the 30fps playback allowed for TV-like resolution. Motions were fluid, and there was no pixelation. The sound quality was also decent, thanks to the large speaker at the bottom end of the Z8. Similarly, the music quality was also enjoyable.
The menu interface was rather pokey at times. Certain functions took much too long to open and there was a delay of a few seconds when opening applications in the main menu. Particularly bothersome was the messaging application. When we opened a phone number and then selected the option to send it a multimedia message, the delay was so long (15 seconds) that we though the Z8 froze. It certainly was our least favorite aspect of the phone.
The Rizr Z8 has a rated battery life of 5 hours talk time. The promised music playback time is 12 hours. According to FCC radiation tests, the Motorola Rizr Z8 has a digital SAR rating of 0.91 watt per kilogram.