Motorola ZINE ZN5 review: Motorola ZINE ZN5

Typical Price: £250.00

Motorola ZINE ZN5

(Part #: CNETMotorola ZINE ZN5)
3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good 5-megapixel sensor; good low-light performance; great battery life.

The Bad No 3G; flimsy lens cover; ugly design.

The Bottom Line The ZN5's camera is one of the better ones to have graced a phone, with its low-light performance especially impressive. But the handset has a pretty boring design and its lack of 3G support is unforgivable. So, at the end of the day the ZN5 falls into the unfortunate trap of being a better camera than it is a phone

7.5 Overall

The Rokr E8 already signalled that Motorola was getting over its worrying fixation with Razr -style handsets. Just to prove the point the company has now teamed up with Kodak to deliver this candybar phone which comes packing a mean 5-megapixel shooter. The handset will be available soon for around £250 SIM-free. But does the tag team of Moto and Kodak really have the grunt to grapple the camera phone crown from Sony Ericsson and its Cyber-shot range?

From the front, the ZN5 looks like a pretty run-of-the-mill phone, but when you take a peak around the back it becomes obvious that there's more to this handset than initially meets the eye. This is because a bulge on the rear houses a lens cover with a 5-megapixel sensor hiding underneath. Of course, we've seen phones before with higher megapixel counts, but this one promises to deliver better picture quality thanks to some clever processing courtesy of Kodak.

Slide the lens cover open and the camera quickly springs into action. The smartly laid-out menus make it easy to set up many options like low light mode, flash settings and white balance. Hit the dedicated camera button on the side of the phone shutter and you'll find that the snapper has incredibly little shutter lag -- in fact it's probably got the lowest shutter lag of any camera phone we've used.

As you would expect, the ZN5 has a xenon flash for shooting in low light, but Motorola has also used some clever technology from Kodak that helps the camera produce good results, even in overcast or dimly lit conditions, without the use of the flash. Shots definitely look great on the ZN5's 320x240-pixel screen, but when you transfer them to a computer it's plain that they're not up to the standards of today's compact shooters. Nevertheless, they are a cut above the usual camera phone standard and on par with pictures from Sony Ericsson Cyber-shot models.

In terms of phone functionality, the ZN5 scores reasonably well. Motorola has improved its menu system so it'll be less confusing for users who are moving over from Nokia or Sony Ericsson handsets. The call quality is also first rate. Unlike most phones this one has a full-size 3.5mm jack so you can listen to music from the onboard MP3 player or FM tuner via your own headphones -- without the need for an adaptor. Another neat trick is that the phone can output video via this jack when used with the supplied AV lead. Battery life is also good at a mammoth 9 hours and 30 minutes of talk time.

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