"MOTOZINE" ZN5 GSM Camera Phone
An Island of Functionality in a Sea of Fanciful Non-Functionality?

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October 2008

Motorola ZN5

Introduction: Feature Phones with Missing Features
iPhone, iPhone 3G, T-Mobile G1 : The phones grabbing all the press recently are notable for slick user interfaces and on-line experience.  These phones are however, missing many features that were previously taken for granted in advanced smartphones.  Bluetooth file transfers, Voice dialing, ability to run Java apps, and Camcorder functionality are some of these features.

When the original iPhone was released with exactly none of these features, those of us that follow the industry were amazed. It was a little like the story of The Emperor's New Clothes.  The T-Mobile G1 lacks some of the same features.

Nokia still markets several "Do it all" phones like the Nokia n95, and n96. The Samsung i8510 has all the features too.  But these phones all run the Symbian OS. Symbian, by Nokia's own admission, is past its prime. The phones do it all, but Symbian and the Series 60 (S60) UI can make it tedious to interact with all those features.

There are also numerous Windows Mobile phones that fill out the "Do it all" feature list very well. Again, however, some people prefer to avoid the Windows Mobile OS.  The basis for people wanting to avoid WinMo, or even if there are such people is off topic. I will say that I have had several people refuse to show me their Windows Mobile smartphones because they figured that there was a high probability that it would crash during any impromptu demo, and if it did, I would wallow intolerably in a cloud of self- righteousness.  Perceptive folks, these are.

So what if one desires function over eye-candy, and wants to avoid Symbian and Windows Mobile. Congratulations,  you've narrowed your options significantly.

Motorola brought Linux to mainstream phones several years ago in the MING series.  The E680(i), A780, A910, A1200, A1600, along with others in the MING family are excellent PDA phones.  More recently, Motorola released its MOTOMAGX Linux/Java platform. The popular RAZR2 V8, and ROKR E8 are members of this 2nd Linux family.   Both series have great functionality, but only the A910 has WiFi, and none of them have a full feature set comparable to current high-end offerings.

Thats changed with the MOTOZINE ZN5.  Here's a phone with a feature list that's for the most part up there with the top of the pack from the other brands, and it runs Linux.  Does it really qualify as an "everything works" phone?  Is there a compelling advantage to this phone above and beyond Linux fan-boyism?

This review will objectively examine these questions by way of a feature-by-feature detailed review, using a US purchased Chinese/Asian market ZN5.  Please note that when released officially in the US there will likely be  customization by wireless carriers, so some features may be different that what is reviewed here.

The Unboxing
OK, I guess I have succumb to the on boxing craze.  Here is's first unboxing video:

For those that wish to skip the video, or can't watch it, heres a list of the box contents:

Motorola ZN5 Box Contents
(Chinese/Europe market phone purchased through US retailer)

  • Motozine ZN5 Mobile Phone
  • Micro USB Charger (UK / China)
  • US Wall plug adapter (added by reseller?)
  • Standard USB (A) to Micro USB Cable
  • Composite Video Cable
  • Wired Stereo Headset
  • BX50 Battery
  • Back Cover
  • Chinese Language Quick Start Guide
  • Chinese Language Owners Manual
  • English Language Quick Start Guide
  • English Language Owners Manual
  • Motorola Phone Tools 5.0 CD

Table 1

Exterior Features
The front is dominated by the large (2.4 inch) 240 x 320 display. While smaller than the iPhone, G1, or some other recent phones, and having half the resolution, The ZN5's screen is extremely clear and readable.  It is under real glass and is easily as bright as the iPhone's if not better.  Even though its not a touch screen, it seems to almost magically attract fingerprints.   Above the screen, there are 2 lights representing charging and Bluetooth. Below the screen is the 4 way pad, and separate center button, and the keyboard.  The keyboard is basically a flat membrane, with small nubs to help you locate where to press. A few keys have multiple functions based on mode, and their function is indicated by a small illuminated icon. Motorola calls this "ModeShift", and made a big deal of it on the ROKR E8.  On the ZN5, however it is used to a lesser extent, with most of the keys acting as they would on most phones 90% of the time.

The gray slate appearance, stylish graphics, and little jewel-like nubs do a great job of making the membrane keyboard look acceptable on a high-end phone, but the fact remains that it is just a membrane.  The feel of the membrane/nub combination, like the looks, is acceptable, but the fast texters out there are going to prefer real keys.  Durability may be another concern, but the membrane seems pretty tough.

The left side has the USB port, 3.5mm headphone jack, and place to attach a wrist strap or phone charm.  The USB port uses a micro USB connector, as opposed to the mini USB seen on some previous Motorola phones, and on a few others like the Blackberry.  This single Micro USB connector can take on several roles, which will be covered later.  Near the top of the phone is the 3.5mm audio connector.  While compatible with standard stereo headphones, this connector contains additional contacts. This allows the same port to be used with wired headsets, and also proves video out.  I applaud the use of non-proprietary connectors, and this is one of the compelling benefits of this phone.  Not only can you use your favorite bass-boost earplugs or use those fancy noise-canceling headphones on your next airline flight, but you are also ready for iPod night at that geeky trendy  bar - all without any adapters.
Regular readers know that I am a fan of the scroll wheel.  Well, the ZN5 lacks one, but it does have Up and Down buttons on the right side near the top.  In addition to serving as a volume control, they do control scrolling when applicable.  Just below this is a keyboard lock slide switch.  It feels solid, and prevents unintentional dialing and other keystrokes -- as long as you remember to use it.  There is no software key lock, unless you lock the entire phone.  A software auto-keylock is probably a technical possibility - such a thing exists for Nokia phones, but as of this writing, no such app exists for this phone.  Near the bottom is a purple colored key who's primary function is the camera shutter button.  When in camera mode, it is intended that the phone be held sideways. The combination of the location of this button, the ModeShift technology, the camera software, and the shape of the phone make using it as a camera very natural.  It really feels and works like a real digital camera, not a phone with a camera as a second thought.  

From a camera point of view, the back of the Motozine is the business end.  The camera is protected by a simple sliding shutter. Opening it is one of several ways to trigger camera mode. Next to the lens is the real xenon flash and a red-eye reduction light. The bottom of the unit is rubberized, and contains a slot for the single internal speaker.  The entire back panel above this, with the exception of the area around the camera, is the battery cover.   The idea of the rubber grip area becomes obvious the first time you do a quick one-handed snap shot.

Inside the battery cover is the sim card slot, as well as the micro SD card slot.  The micro SD card is not hot-swappable, as both the rear cover, and battery must be removed to access it.  This is a bit of a disappointment, as even the much older A780's micro SD card was right on top of the phone.  My guess is that Motorola figured that too many people either forget to unmount the card prior to removing it, or accidentally pop the card out, thus causing data corruption.  Additionally, eliminating the press to eject socket saves both space and cost.  For this review, several 1 Gig micro SD cards from different manufactures were tested, as well as Lexar 4 Gig card. All worked.  4 Gig is the published upper limit of card size, so larger cards were not tested.

Form Factor and Size

The ZN5 is comparable in size to the iPhone. and with the exception of the camera bulge, and the 4 way pad, it is almost exactly the same thickness as the iPhone.  Given the functionality of this phone as a camera, and understanding that there is an actual lens focusing mechanism in there, the bulge is, in my opinion, completely acceptable.  The ZN5 is also slightly narrower and slightly taller than the iPhone. This slim appearance, combined with the colors and beveled shape make it both very elegant looking, and nice to hold.

Basic Phone Functionality:
Sound and RF Quality
Much as the iPhone has become the gold standard for style and user interfaces, Motorola has, with a few exceptions, long been the standard for call quality and RF performance.  The ZN5 seems to be no exception to this.  In week areas where other phones could not complete a call, or reported only 1 or 2 bars, the ZN5 shows as many as 4, and calls complete and stay connected.  Motorola advertises something called "CrystalTalk", which this phone has. Motorola writes: "CrystalTalk is a bundling of microphone noise reduction, noise adaptive speaker enhancements, and on some products, a full duplex speaker phone."  Well, every manufacture has lots of voice processing and noise reduction technology in their phones, and not too much should be made of a trademark. Voice quality was neither better or worse than other premium mobiles. The ZN5 does, of course have a speakerphone, and the sound quality of the internal speaker seems to be very good.

Quad Band GSM
The ZN5 is a Quad Band GSM phone (850/900/1800/1900).  It lacks any 3G capability, although it does have WiFi.  Even here in the US, 3G networks are becoming more and more prolific, but the lack of 3G may have an upside.  Depending on the carrier policies, not needing a 3G account could save you money.

Voice Dialing, Voice Commanding
As mentioned, the phone does support not only Voice Dialing, but Voice Commanding.  Pressing the Call (Off-Hook) button for a few seconds loads the Voice Recognition system.  There is a delay between pressing the button and any sort of feedback that the VR system is starting up.  A voice then tells you VR is loading, and there is a further delay before it is ready.  This is a minor annoyance, and once you get used to the delay, you learn not to begin talking until you hear the VR tone.  In addition to speaking the name of a contact, there are over 20 VR functions that can be spoken.  There is no training or any VR settings, so the command list does not appear to be customizable.  Generally, VR works very well, at least for me.  It gets commands correct nearly 100% of the time, but if you have people in your contacts whose names sound different than a phonetic interpretation of the spelling, it is going to have difficulty recognizing them.  This of course is typical, and no different than other phones with Voice Dialing. Overall, I would rate it as good to excellent.  The phone's voice seems to be set by the language settings.  With this phone set to English, the voice is a very natural and understandable British English male voice. Since the voice is part of the firmware, it will likely be set for specific regions, and is not easily changed by the customer. Voice Command Dialing, and Voice synthesis works fine via wired or Bluetooth headsets.  True hands-off dialing, answering, and even changing some settings is possible.  This is a big advantage over certain other trendy handsets that I have been referring to throughout this article.

The Camera
Still Shots

OK, There's no question that the big deal about this phone is the 5 Megapixel camera, but I am actually not going to say much about it here.  This aspect of the of the device is well reviewed elsewhere. Motorola has a website show casing the camera's capability, with a large gallery of pictures (See Links, Below).  I do want to emphasize however, that this phone has all of the capability of a true, dedicated, quality, 5 MP camera.  Flash, digital zoom, red-eye reduction, auto focus (including macro), and compatibility with Kodak's Easyshare products and services.  The concept of actually taking pictures with a phone, with the intent of framing them and displaying them may previously have gotten laughs, but when your pull out your Motozine, and people see features like red-eye reduction, and the actual focusing lens, they realize that it is a serious camera.  The only thing I regret is that I could not use it to take the pictures for this article, since itself is the subject.

Video Recording
The ZN5 supports video recording, including audio, but supports only 144 x 176 and 96 x 128 resolutions (15 frames per second).  Despite the capability of the CCD, the systems CPU power, and the 4 Gig storage potential, there is no provision for even Standard Definition (SD) video recoding, let alone High Definition (HD).

Also absent is the Business Card Import feature as seen on the A1200, and a few others.  With the auto focus allowing the camera to do macro mode, the hardware seems to be there, so seeing this feature at some point in the future via a firmware update or 3rd party is not impossible.  I think it was omitted based on the target audience of this phone.

What's MOTOMAGX?file:///home/john/Desktop/john/linuxslate/Screenshot1_proc.png
There's suddenly a lot of talk about mobile device user interfaces due to the excellent work of our friends in Cupertino.  I must say that the ZN5 feels almost retro by that standard.  By any other standard -i.e. phones other than the iPhone, and perhaps the T-Mobile G1, the Motozine is good to excellent.  It is far less cumbersome than the Symbian S60 UI used on many Nokia phones, and unless you are already a S60 pro, you'll have a far sorter trip up the learning curve with this phone than most others that have as many features.  The menu map is kept simple, and mostly intuitive.  The MOTOMAGX Linux/Java OS bears a noticeable resemblance to the EZX OS, but has been simplified.  The tabs at the top are gone, and icons cannot be added to the Main Menu.  Interestingly, added Java programs appear as functions in one of 3 out of the 9 main icons or menus. Apps can be added to Media, Google, and Office.  It is likely that native (Linux) apps will be able to be installed as Main Menu icons, or perhaps there will be a hack to allow it.

In addition to being simpler than EZX, or Symbian S60, it is also far more elegant.  The Main Menu can be viewed as a list, a grid of icons, or as a one icon at a time in a rotating scroll called "Spinner".   Main Menu icons, as well as 1st level menu items can be re-ordered in most cases.  In the case of the Spinner mode of the main menu, the icons snake into a circle to be re-ordered.  It's a cool and smooth graphics effect, and scores lots of points for eye-candy.

file:///home/john/Desktop/john/linuxslate/Screenshot2_proc.pngThe Home screen can also be customized.  4 functions can be assigned to the 4 directions of the Navigation pad for quick access.  In addition to selecting any 4 functions, including installed Java apps, the user can choose whether or not to display the icons.  There is also a "Shortcuts" key on the Home screen, allowing quick access to 6 pre-selected functions.  Although I am sure there is probably a simple hack to change these, there is no ability to change these by default.

I have not found the capability for other customization of the home screen, for example the ability to add upcoming calendar events.  

The top of the screen has the usual indications: Signal strength, carrier, Battery level, time, etc., as well as icons for Bluetooth and WiFi.  There is a bug with respect to the latter, as we see later in this review.

As I received it, my ZN5 has 3 pre-installed themes.  While all have the noted eye-candy, the default Kodak theme is by far the best looking.  As of right now, I know of no way to obtain or install other themes, but the "Wallpaper" can be changed to a file of your choosing, including anything snapped with the camera.

The MOTOMAGX Linux/Java OS really does, in this geeks opinion, offer non-geeks an advantage. Several other reviews agree, and give the ZN5's user interface high marks.

PIM (PDA) Functionality
All the basic PIM (Personal Information Manager) functionality is there, and while it's obvious that the phones emphasis is on being a camera, it is also a functional PDA with a few important exceptions. There is no out of the box compatibility with Microsoft Office apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), or Adobe PDF.  There may be Java applications to fill this void.  Check, or the forums for updates.

The email application supports POP and IMAP, and supports SSL, etc.  It also has a function that attempts to automatically configure email based on just your email address, and password.  While this may work for some home ISP's, it is unlikely that it will guess server names, etc. in most corporate environments.  While there is no specific Exchange Client, or push email, you can connect to an Exchange Sever via IMAP if your company allows it.  There is also a dedicated Gmail menu item, but all really is is a bookmark for the Gmail mobile webmail page.  It works much better if you enable IMAP compatibility in your Gmail account, and then add that account to the ZN5's email app.

The ZN5 supports SyncML, but since nothing I use natively supports SyncML, I have not tied it yet.

Since Bluetooth, and OBEX is supported, it made it very easy for me to send data to the phone without sync'ing.  For example, while my Macintosh said that the only thing it could do with the phone was to use it as a modem (more on that later), I was able to simply do a Select All in the Apple Contacts app, and drag them to the Bluetooth File Exchange icon.  Several hundred contacts were almost instantly in the phone, and with the exception of a few that had bad field names to start with, they were in the phone correctly.  Pictures did not transfer, as the phone complained about memory.  Contacts that had pictures would likely have worked in smaller groups, or at worst one at a time.

The Calendar function is also fairly typical for a mobile phone, but works well.  Calendar Invitations received in email are recognized, and if Accepted, appear in the Calendar.   Moving Calender entries from Entourage or iCal to the ZN5 via Bluetooth does not work as well.  In a problem shared with my A780, it seems that the phone is picky about the contents of .vcs files.  It should ignore extraneous fields, but it seems not too.  .ics files dragged out of Entourage or iCal can be hand edited and renamed to .vcs files that can then be Bluetoothed to the ZN5, but this is not a very elegant workaround.  Perhaps one of a number of SyncML plugins is the solution.  For a list of SyncML clients, plug-ins, and servers, as well as on-line services, See the Links Below.

Again, where the ZN5 stands on PDA/Office functionality is based on what you compare it with.  What's there works well, but there are large omissions.  Hopefully there will be software in the future to fill some of the gaps.

Media Player and FM Radiofile:///home/john/Desktop/john/linuxslate/Screenshot3_proc.png
Interestingly, the ZN5 has no way to directly launch the Media Player.  In what I guess is someone's idea of simplification, one instead selects "Media Finder" from the Multimedia Main Menu, then navigates to a number of folders that have no relation to actual folders in the phone's memory, or on the card.  That takes the user to a second set of folders, such as  Recently Played, All Songs, Playlists, etc.  Getting to your music, building playlists, etc., is pretty intuitive, but I would be just as happy with a File... Open... metaphor.  There is a File Manager in a totally different menu that works based on the actual files/folders in the phone, or on the micro SD card.

file:///home/john/Desktop/john/linuxslate/Screenshot4_proc.pngOnce launched by selecting some music, a fairly cool looking media player pops up.  The media player certainly includes most features one may want.  There's an equalizer with 9 pre-sets, but no way to create a custom equalizer.  There is also a "Spacial Audio" (Stereo Separation) setting, and a Bass Boost that is separate from the EQ.  Shuffle (Random play) is supported.  "ModeShift", in the case of the Media Player simply means turning the LED's under the numeric keypad off during playback.  Album art, if present in the music file, is displayed as a small preview under the band/album name.   The album art does not replace the stylized turn table background of the player, but can be displayed full screen while the music plays. Music can continue to play even when you leave the Media Finder.  In this case, the player becomes a mini-player at the bottom of the Home Screen.

Audio Quality is good via the audio jack or Bluetooth stereo (more on that later), and even the internal speaker sounds pretty good, but there is only a single speaker.   There is plenty of volume, but there is no volume limit setting in the firmware I reviewed.

The FM radio app is similarly simple, but functional.  As with most such devices, it uses the headphone/headset wire as and antenna, and will not function with out a wired headphone/headset, or other output device connected.  It does a good job at pulling in stations, but does not seem to pickup or display and station ID or other info.  It has the usual Memory (Presets) and Scan features.

Like the Music Player, the Movie Player (which is really the same app) is not directly invoked, but is launched buy selecting a compatible movie from the "Media Finder".    A number of MPEG (mp4 or mpg) movies  I put on a card would not play. 2 included 3gp movies plated fine. More testing with respect to movie playback is needed, and for now, I must state that this review is incomplete in this respect.  The Movie Player lacks the Equalizer of the Music Player, but the Bass Boost is still available.  This is notable since even many dedicated Media Players do not have any sort of tone control for Videos.

The media player will also play streaming music and videos in some formats.  3gpp audio streams worked, as do videos from the YouTube mobile service: As mentioned, Bluetooth stereo works, so re-streaming 3gpp compatible Internet radio stations to your A2DP headset or speakers works -- It's pretty much wireless listening utopia.

Internet Connectivity and Web Browsing

file:///home/john/Desktop/john/linuxslate/Screenshot5_proc.pngSince the debut of the iPhone much there has been much talk about "The Mobile Web Experience". When compared to mobile phones previous to the iPhone,  the ZN5's "Symphony" browser fairs very well.  It does an excellent job of quickly rendering simple, or mobile phone specific pages, and is faster over WiFi or EDGE than, for example, A Nokia N80 I used for a while.   More complicated pages can have some problems with respect to both how they appear on the small screen, and stability. file:///home/john/Desktop/john/linuxslate/Screenshot6_proc.pngThere is zoom capability, but there is no keyboard short cut for zooming... it's a couple layers deep in menus, and it occurs in only a few large steps.  There is no way to turn the screen sideways in the browser, and like zooming, "Full Screen" is 2 menus down, and has no "hot key". Assuming a page does render in a usable fashion, scrolling, both vertically, and horizontally is acceptable in speed, although not particularly smooth.   Again, better than the vast majority of phones, but no where near an iPhone.  The ZN5's browser has an interesting feature that attempts to take all of the page's contents, and allign them into a long document that is only the width of the screen.  When it works, you can comfortably read long articles and scroll using either the 4 Way pad, or the Up/Down keys on the side.

I would like to interject a note here that not only applies to the browser, but all apps on the ZN5. Motomagx seems to do a very good job of memory management.  When a particular app or feature is not being used, it is purged, and memory is freed up.  For example if you load Voice Recognition, then use the Browser, and wish to go back to VR, it will have to load all over again.  Even the Main Menu itself works this way.  While this does cause a few momentary delays, it seems to allow each app to work as well as possible.  Again, I feel this is a real-world benefit to the Linux/Java OS on these phones.

The browser works when connected via GPRS/EDGE, or WiFi, and it will automatically switch from EDGE to WiFi when the latter is available.  Unfortunately, setting this up is not particularly user friendly, and seems not to work in some cases even once when set up right.  Again, to be fair, it must be mentioned that this is an unlocked phone, and I am testing it on a carrier that does not officially support it. Like the Motorola EZX phones before it, the ZN5 uses the concept of "Data Connections" to specify settings for different providers, and WiFi.  A "Connection" is created for a specific carrier, and then optionally, one can select WiFi first.  There is then a separate set of "Saved Networks" for WiFi.  It gets worse... In each app that connects to the Internet, there is a separate "Profile" for how that specific app connects.  There is also one for MultiMedia Messaging (MMS). The individual app profile points to a specific Carrier Connection that was previously created, as well as other settings.  Sound complicated an convoluted?  It is.

Given the above, joining WiFi networks is actually pretty well done.  WiFi performance is also good and connecting to found networks is fast.  Entering Hex WEP keys is not easy on a device that lacks a full keyboard, so I was very happy when it connected to several secure networks on the first try, including ones that have given other devices reviewed here problems.  It has also never forgotten, or made me re-enter a WEP or WPA key.  WEP, and WPA(1 or 2)-PKS is supported.  I am not sure if LEAP is rolled into WEP support or just not supported.

There is a WiFi indicator in the status area of the screen, but it gives no indication of activity, signal strength, of even if you are connected to any available WiFi network.  It seems to solely indicate WiFi power.  Since the WiFi settings are in a separate menu, you have to leave any app you may be using and go to the WiFi settings just to see if you are connected, and how strong the signal is.

Wifi Icon problems don't end there.  The WiFi icon overwrites the Bluetooth icon.  This is a minor UI glitch, but it shows that WiFi is new to Motomagx, and not fully de-bugged yet.

Adding Applications
Native Applications
I wish to phrase the following as a warning: Motorola does not currently support Native (Linux) Applications on these phones.  While they do have a free, downloadable development studio, as of right now, it only supports building apps for an emulator that is part of the development studio. There is no way to install a completed project on any real Motomagx handset.  Further more, while there are some unofficial development tool chains (read that as hacks) to write native apps on the ROKR E8 and RAZR2 V8, installing the apps requires installing a hacked firmware on the particular handset, and the ZN5 is simply too new to have a hacked firmware.  Firmwares are specific to the actual handset hardware so don't even think of attempting to install a E8 or V8 firmware on your ZN5.  A ruined handset is a certainty.  Even for the ROKR and RAZR, there are only a very few apps out there.

To make matters worse, it seems that Motorola is not working much, if at all to get true application development going.  The 3rd party developers also see much more money to be made in the Applications Stores that support the iPhone and G1, so the developers are abandoning other environments as if they had a contagious disease.  Development for Qt (which EXZ is based on), EZX, and MOTOMAGX was never that strong in the first place.  Want even more bad news?  Qt is owned by a company called Trolltech, which Motorola's biggest competitor -- Nokia - bought early this year.

OK, now that we've got the facts out, and hit an emotional low on the potential for native apps for this phone, let's work our way back up.  First, there is a small but loyal set of Motorola Linux phone developers, and porting Qt applications to the Motorola Linux phones is not difficult.  Add to this the fact that the ZN5 is definitely the member of this family with the most geek appeal, I feel sure that officially or otherwise, there will be ways to install native apps on this phone sooner rather than later.  I would even like to think yours truly may be able to help in this respect.  Also understand that apps written for the ROKR E8 and RAZR2 V8 should work on the ZN5 without modification.  The ZN5 itself, being a very good quality phone, and having plenty of popular features may help the whole Motomagx platform significantly.

Java Applications
While the score is a few thousand to zero in the competition between the iPhone App Store and native programs available for the ZN5, the situation is just the opposite for Java apps.  The ZN5 has a  Java MIDP 2.0 environment, and will run thousands of Java apps available that will, or at least should, run on the ZN5.  Many of  old stand-by's that I have used for years on various phones work on the ZN5, others did not. The ZN5 has the conventional mobile phone keyboard layout, so compatibility in that respect should be good.

Google Maps
On such essential Java application is Google Maps for Mobile.  While the ZN5 does not have GPS, and it seems that in the current version of Google Maps for Mobile, even cell tower based location is not working, Google Mobile Maps is extremely handy.  It eliminates one of the big missing features in this phone.  The version Google installed on my phone even supports Google Street view -- Something that as of this writing is not available on the iPhone.  Motorola really needs to get with Google, and write whatever check is needed to have Google Maps pre-installed on the ZN5, and to get cell tower location, and a few other things working.

Bluetooth Details
In my opinion, one of the biggest advantages of the ZN5 is a functional Bluetooth system, with many, but not all protocols supported.  Table 2 is an edited output of running the command:

$ sdptool browse

On a Linux PC while the ZN5 is nearby, and discoverable:

Browsing 00:22:B4:xx:xx:xx ...
Service Name: SDP Server
Service Name: Public Browse Group Root
Service Name: Stereo Audio
Service Name: OBEX Imaging
Service Name: OBEX Object Push
Service Name: Dialup Networking
Service Name: OBEX File Transfer
Service Name: Remote Control
Service Name: Voice Gateway
  "Handfree Audio Gateway" (0x111f)
  "Generic Audio" (0x1203)
Service Name: Voice Gateway
  "Headset Audio Gateway" (0x1112)
  "Generic Audio" (0x1203)

Table 2 - Supported Bluetooth profiles

When using OBEX, even large files transfer quickly and reliably over the Bluetooth 2.0 implementation.
Bluetooth Stereo, also known as A2DP was tested by pairing with a Bluetooth equipped Philips Table radio. Once paired, one can simply select "Use Bluetooth" in the ZN5's Media Player, and it seamlessly switches. As you can see from the screen shot of the radio, it verifies a stereo connection, and the great sound verifies true wireless stereo.  iPhone users shall now drop their aloofness by one more notch.

Bluetooth Stereo

Screen Shot of Bluetooth capable table radio
verifies working A2DP.

As I mentioned in the Multimedia section, you can connect to a streaming Internet radio station over WiFi, and re-stream the audio via Bluetooth.  This demonstrates that WiFi and Bluetooth work simultaneously.  Quite by accident, in the same test, I verified that the table radio's buttons control the ZN5's media player.  So I can play music that is residing on my ZN5 when I can't even remember what pair of cargo pants I left it in.  It's really cool when this stuff "Just Works".

I have also connected from my Wibrain B1LE ultramobile PC (See Link to Review Below) to the Internet while using Dialup Networking.  While a few changes were needed to some of the PPP configuration files on the Linux UMPC, getting up and running did not take long.  Performance over an EDGE connection was very good.  iPhone victims users go down one more notch.  So is that Humble Pie Apple flavored?

Interestingly, when paired with a Mac running Leopard Mac OS X 10.5.5), the Mac reported that the ZN5 could only be used for Dial Up networking.  Never the less, transferring files works seamlessly, and as mentioned above, I easily transfered all my contacts from the Mac address book at once0.  I am sure that the ZN5 will be added to Mac OSX's list of mobile devices and thier capabilities in the near future.  Better integration may also be obtained my creating a ZN5 description file by editing that of another, similar phone.  I remember having to do that for my old Nokia Communicator.

One profile the ZN5 apparently does not have is SIM card sharing.  However, I have also never seen a device that does SIM card sharing, so it's kinda hard to fault Motorola for not including it.

The ZN5 ha no less than 5 separate, and user selectable personalities when connected via USB:

  • Kodak Easy Share
  • USB Printing
  • Media Sync
  • Memory Card
  • Modem
  • Table 3
    The ZN5 has Multiple USB Personalities

    As of this writing, I have only tried Memory Card (USB) storage, and Modem Mode.  If I encounter any problems with any of the others, I will update this section as appropriate.

    I have used Modem Mode with the same Wibrain UMPC used to test Bluetooth tethering.  All I did was change the name of the device from /dev/rfcomm0 to /dev/ttyACM0, and I connected via USB on the first try.  I would certainly expect users of other operating systems to have similar ease.  (iPhone comment withheld, but I am keeping score.)

    Memory Card mode, or USB storage generally worked well with most devices.  The Mac immediately mounted both the ZN5's internal storage and the micro SD card.  My desktop system (Fedora Linux) seems to mount only the card, and the Wibrain (Ubuntu Linux) would not mount either.   Using the ZN5 as a USB flash drive with other dedicated devices (like MP3 players) met with mixed results.  Generally they eventually worked, but some went through a loop of repeatedly connecting and disconnecting before settling down and seeing the sound files on the micro SD card.

    A number of USB power sources also worked to charged the ZN5, although if the ZN5 was in "Memory Card" (storage) mode, a few would go through the above mentioned repeated connecting and disconnecting.  Most  worked without any such convulsions. One way around this it to put the ZN5 in "Modem" mode, or to hit "Cancel" when connecting in Storage mode.  This will allow charging only.  The Tiny USB charger that comes with the iPhone or iPods, along with a Standard micro USB cable make for a great travel charger, plus you have your USB cable to use for tethering, file transfers, etc.

    Kodak Easy Share mode is nice because Kodak printers, including the kiosks in stores, will recognize the ZN5 as a Kodak camera. Kodak Easy Share Software for Windows PC's is included on the disk with the ZN5.

    Video Out
    The Motozine ZN5 supports video output via the headphone jack, much as an iPod Touch does.  When the composite cable is connected, and video out is turned on in a sub menu of the "Connections" menu, the screen image appears on the connected monitor. At this point, the phone prompts you to go to Movies or Pictures, but you can simply cancel out of this menu, and the phones display is also output to the monitor.  The media gallery displays landscape on the phone, and fullscreen on a 4:3 monitor.  Everything else displays in the phones normal, vertical aspect ratio.  So while a Java app that could read .PDF's or PowerPoint files, would in fact display on the monitor, the ZN5 would not make a practical presentation system unless the particular application knew how to kick the ZN5 in to fullscreen mode.  The video output is turned off when the cable is disconnected.

    Battery Performance
    Motorola lists the battery performance (with the usual disclaimers) as follows:
    Talk Time: up to 349 to 574 minutes
    Standby Time: up to 310 to 579 hour
    In my expirience any such numbers are meaningless, and tests done by review web sites are not really much better.  For these reasons, I have not done a formal test of battery life, but I can say that there is no major issues.  A full days use for me looks something like this: Automatically checking my email every 30 minutes, A few phone calls, Several files transfered via Bluetooth, and perhaps an hour of WiFi Web surfing -- That's before I leave work.  In the evening, perhaps a few more short calls, another hour of Web/Google Maps (Mixed WiFi and EDGE, and Streaming some Internet radio before bed.  With all that, I still have some left on the battery.  Since it charges during any USB use, if I connect up for some file transfers, it adds even more that is left at the end of the day.  The short version, is that for heavy use, especially WiFi, this, like basically every other WiFi enabled hand held device will need to be charged every day.  For lighter use, i.e. just a few call, and a quick check of a WAP site or 2, I am sure you can venture out with out a charger for several days.

    I also want to mention that the phone does not get hot when charging, or even with fairly intensive use.  You have to really try to get it to feel even a bit warm.  Streaming music over WiFi to a Bluetooth headset, while using the composite video output will cause a little warmth, but you really need to do all those simultaneously to make it warm up.  

    There's finally a Linux phone with the feature set that rivals anything from Nokia, Sony-Ericsson, or any of the major names.  It's attractive, functional, and offers high quality and performance. Not only that, but it's Linux/Java operating system offers real advantage, even for people that do not know or care what an operating system is.  If you carry a Laptop, Netbook, MID or UMPC, the ZN5 is an excellent and extremely functional companion.  It's true that in many ways the ZN5 looks downright primitive compared to an iPhone. If you want an iPhone, buy an iPhone, if you want a quality phone, with a full set of features that work, along with an excellent digital camera, buy a Motorola Motozine ZN5.


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