Phone Scoop

printed July 30, 2014
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Review: Motorola ZINE ZN5

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Is It Your Type? Body The Three S's  

Screen

The ZN5's screen looks really good. It isn't the best we've seen, but it is more than suitable for this phone. Icons and graphics are crisp and sharp, and colors look great. Indoor readability is no problem at all. Cloudy skies didn't prove too much trouble, either, but bright sunlight challenged it a little bit. On-screen menus and text were difficult to read, but if you are using the ZN5 in camera mode, the viewfinder is visible enough so that you can frame and take pictures.

Signal

The ZN5 is sadly limited to EDGE data, which is a shame considering that T-Mobile is offering its 3G network in more and more markets around the U.S. The ZN5 did a great job of snagging T-Mobile's signal. It had five bars nearly everywhere I took it. It passed the NJ vault test (the local ShopRite) with flying colors, meaning it was able to make voice and data calls and not drop them even when it had one bar of service. During my entire time with the ZN5, it did not lose a single call, and I never missed one due to the signal strength. Motorola shows its cellphone mettle with the ZN5.

Sound

Quality of phone calls was not up to par with other Motorola phones we've tested. Everything sounded a bit muffled, as if a sock had been stuffed into the phone. There was no crackling, hissing or other interference. Even with the volume set to the maximum, it wasn't very loud. Hearing conversations in crowded environments such as a sporting event was difficult. Even walking down the street or sitting in coffee shops challenged the ZN5. If the volume is set to anything other than the max, it gets a lot harder to hear anything. The ringer was not all that loud, either. Bottom line, it is worth recommending you use the vibrate+ring profile if you really don't want to miss a call.

Battery

Battery life of the ZN5 was surprisingly good. In the two weeks I had it, I only had to fully charge it once. Activities such as calling, messaging and Web surfing don't appear to task it too much. What will drain the battery is heavy use of the flash. Given the camera's auto-flash mode, it almost always fires off when taking pictures indoors. If you're going to shoot a kid's birthday party (i.e., you're going ot take a picture every 5 seconds), you'll probably need to charge at the end of a day. Casual picture takers will find they can get three full days out of a charge quite easily.

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