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printed October 22, 2014
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Review: Motorola krave ZN4

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Is It Your Type? Body The 3 S's  

 

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Beneath its touch cover, the Krave is a rather pedantic touchscreen cellphone; in size and feel, it's a bit smaller than both the Samsung Instinct and one of Verizon's other touchscreen models, the LG Dare.

Krave's front face is dominated by an extra long (or, when turned horizontal, extra wide) 240 x 400 pixel 2.8-inch touch screen. Above the screen is a small white backlit Home key on the left and a small red backlit Power key. Both these keys are covered when the touch cover is down.

All the Krave's other keys are located around its perimeter. One the left side are its microUSB power jack, the volume up/down toggle and a 3.5mm stereo headphone jack; both the jacks are annoyingly covered with rubber flaps. On the right side are the direct access camera control/shutter release, the microSD card slot, the voice control key, and an MP3 player-like sliding lock switch that disables the touch cover's touch capability. When slid up/off, the touch cover becomes just a protective screen.

The volume toggle increases or lowers the ringtone volume, but for some reason works only with the touch cover flipped up.

Even though Krave's primary earpiece is located at the top end of the touch cover (when its flipped up) just as it is on any flip phone, there's also a speaker in the Krave's chin for speakerphone and music listening. The touch cover earpiece is actually double-sided, enabling it to funnel through music from the chin speaker when the cover is down, and acts as an acoustic port for Motorola's Crystal Talk technology when flipped up.

While the touch cover lets you reach out and touch the touchscreen, it is completely in the way when you use the touch QWERTY keyboard, which only presents itself when the phone is rotated to horizontal. When the touch cover is up, there's no way to situate the phone in your left hand to comfortably tap keys with your left thumb. You can't remove the touch cover, and you can't operate the keyboard when the cover is down because closing it ends whatever application you happen to be in. There is no solution to these annoyingly awkward ergonomics other than tapping out text with one finger on your right hand, which defeats the whole purpose of a thumbpad. In portrait mode, you get a standard alphanumeric dial pad, so you do have the option of using iTAP predictive text input for plain text input. But this is not a positive choice, more like the lesser of two evils. For one thing, iTAP is nearly useless for adding names to your address book input. Since there is a QWERTY keypad, you shouldn't be backed into this less productive alternative.

When holding the phone to your ear during a call, the raised touch cover gives a bit; it feels like if you press it too hard to your face it might actually give way. It won't, but you'll keep your finger up to brace it, adding even more fingerprint smudges to it.

On the Krave's rubberized rear is the 2 MP camera lens, smartly recessed since your palm or finger is bound to rub across it as you handle the phone.

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