Motorola Zine ZN5 (T-Mobile) review: Motorola Zine ZN5 (T-Mobile)

The video camera takes clips in two resolutions (176x144 and 128x96) with sound. To our surprise, editing options are nonexistent, but you can select a video length. Clips meant for multimedia messages are capped at 10 seconds, but you can shoot for longer in normal mode. The ZN5 offers a healthy 128MB of user-accessible shared memory, but we recommend using a memory card just the same. The phone comes with a 1GB card in the box, but it can accommodate cards up to 4GB.

The ZN5 offers fantastic photo quality.

Photo quality on the ZN5 was the best we've seen on a camera phone (so far). Colors were bright and natural, and objects were sharp. There also was no blurriness or image noise, except in very dimly lit environments. As mentioned earlier, the flash is a bit sensitive so it is easy to get photos that are blown out. But even so, this is one camera phone with fantastic image quality. Videos weren't quite as sharp, but they were better than on most camera phones.

Motorola and Kodak make it very easy to get photos off the phone. As for the old-fashioned methods, you can transfer them to a PC or photo printer using a USB cable, a memory card, and Bluetooth, or you can send them in a multimedia message. When we connected the ZN5 to a PC it recognized our phone instantly and we moved our shots over without a hitch. A copy of the Moto Tools PC syncing software comes in the box, but to don't need to install it to sync the phone. You also can upload shots to a blog and save them to your online T-Mobile album.

The Kodak partnership also opens a new way to manage your photos through a wireless connection to the Kodak Photo Gallery online service (formerly Ofoto). Then you can share photos with friends, use the Gallery's simple editing tools, and order prints for home delivery. The integrated Wi-Fi will provide the fastest connection, but you also can use T-Mobile's GPRS cellular network.

We set up a connection using an existing Photo Gallery account. You can access your existing account or even create a new one right on the phone, so there's no need to visit the Web site first. We uploaded photos using Wi-Fi and GPRS. Interestingly, a Wi-Fi upload isn't significantly quicker than over GPRS, but you won't be subject to any additional data fees from T-Mobile. In either case, however, the photos appeared right in our online Photo Gallery account in a folder. It was a simple process, even if we had a few gripes. First off, when using GPRS, we experienced a couple connection errors that prevented our photos from being uploaded. We didn't have such problems over Wi-Fi, so we recommend sticking with that. Secondly, you can't designate the online folder in which you'd like to drop your shots. Granted, it's not a huge deal, but you will have to do some organizing on the online end. All photos taken in a particular month, even if they're uploaded at different times, will drop into a folder designed "mobile" and that month's name. On the upside, however, the "simple share" feature will default to whichever upload method you prefer, whether it is Bluetooth, the T-Mobile album or the Kodak Photo Gallery.

The slide show option will flash your photos in succession right on the phone's display. It's not as cool as the slide show tool on the Sony Ericsson C902, but it does the job. You can designate how long you'd like each photo to appear. You also can show off your photos on a TV, monitor, or projector using the included audiovisual cables. That's a nice touch.

Now, it's time for the boring stuff. The ZN5's phone book has room in each contact for five phone numbers, a nickname, three street addresses, a birthday (with a zodiac sign), an assistant's name, a manager's name, a company and job title, spouse and children names, and notes (the SIM card holds an additional 250 contacts). You can save callers to groups, pair them with a photo and one of 50 polyphonic ringtones. Other essentials include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, an alarm clock, a speakerphone, a calculator, a calendar, a world clock, a task list, and a notepad. On the higher end, the ZN5 offers a file manager, full Bluetooth with a stereo profile, USB mass storage, PC syncing, a voice recorder, instant messaging, and Web-based POP3 e-mail.

For music, the ZN5 has a generic Moto media player for WMA and MP3 files. Features are slim beyond playlists and shuffle modes. The player is compatible with Windows Media Player 11, so you can drag tunes to the phone from a PC using a USB cable.

You can personalize the ZN5 with a selection of screen savers, themes, wallpapers, and alert tones. You can download more options, and additional ringtones from T-Mobile's t-zones service using the full HTML browser. The ZN5 comes with the demo versions of two games--Midnight Pool 3D and Tetris--you'll have to buy the full versions for extended play.

We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900; GPRS/EDGE) Motorola ZN5 world phone in San Francisco using T-Mobile service. We were pleased to find that the ZN5 does more than take good pictures; it also excels at its primary job. Call quality was very satisfactory overall. The audio was clear, the signal was free of static and interference, and the audio was loud. The ZN5 uses Moto's CrystalTalk technology, which helped to account for the great audio.

Callers said we sounded great on their end. They also commented on the voice clarity, even when we were calling form a noisy location. Some of our friends couldn't even tell we were using a cell phone. Speakerphone calls were quite good--the volume was loud and the audio was only slightly muffled. Automated-calling systems could understand us. Bluetooth headset calls were decent as well.

There were times where the menu interface could be just a bit pokey, particularly in the camera menus. It's not a huge problem, but it was noticeable.

The ZN5 has a rated battery life of up to 9.5 hours talk time and up to 22.87 days standby time. Actual battery life will vary depending on how you use the phone. For example, heavy camera use will drain more power than just making calls. For talk times though, our tests showed a talk time of 5 hours and 11 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the ZN5 has a digital SAR rating of 1.59 watts per kilogram, which is quite high.