Hands-on with the MOTOZINE ZN5 Kodak Camera Phone

Today Motorola and Kodak announced the result of a two-year partnership, and it’s one of the best camera phones I’ve ever seen. It really gives the Sony Ericsson Cybershots and Nokia N Series phones a run for their money. I was invited us to get up close with this new 5-megapixel shooter, called the MOTOZINE ZN5. Key specs include a sharp 2.4-inch display, fast autofocus, a 3.5 mm audio jack (which doubles as A/V out), and a robust 350MB of built-in memory (optional 4GB microSD expansion). Plus, there’s Wi-Fi for uploading photos to Kodak Gallery and other services. Motorola didn’t forget this is a phone either, as there’s CrystalTalk technology on board for excellent noise reduction. Here’s why I’m excited about this camera phone, despite the lack of 3G. Yes, EDGE in 2008! It’s a real camera–with a real flash. In addition to 5-MP resolution, the MOTOZINE ZN5 boasts a pretty fast autofocus (which you can override if you’re really in a hurry) and a powerful Xenon flash. You can tell right away this is a serious camera phone when you look at the huge Kodak logo on the back of the phone, which is on the convenient lens cover. Sliding this open turns the camera on. To prove that this camera is the real deal, Motorola showed us some monster size 16 x 20 prints, which showed a surprising amount of detail and very good color saturation. I noticed a bit of fuzziness in a few of the prints but was generally impressed. Bottom line: 4 x 6′s and even 8 x 10s should be no sweat for the ZN5. Auto enhancement capability built in. Kodak’s Perfect Touch processing technology has been integrated into the company’s standalone digital cameras for a while now, but it’s nice to see this option added to a phone. It automatically brightened a dull image and pulled detailed out of the shadows. However, we’d like to see an option to have this feature automatically enhance your pictures as you take them by default, as opposed to touching up each picture one at a time. ModeShift technology in full effect. Like the Rokr E8, the MOTOZINE ZN5 features touch sensitive buttons below the display–and between the numbers on the dialpad–that change based on what you’re doing. (The difference here is that the dialpad on this phone are traditional popples instead of pseudo buttons that use local haptics.) For example, when you’re shooting you’ll see only a Play button display, but when you’re reviewing images you’ll also see a trash can icon for deleting pics, and a button that will let you upload photos directly to Kodak Gallery online (in full resolution). Wi-Fi But No 3G. Why would anyone release a 5-MP camera phone with EDGE instead of HSDPA these days, especially when even T-Mobile is starting to roll out its network? Good question, but Kodak assured us that uploading over EDGE will happen in the background and shouldn’t be terribly slow, and there’s always Wi-Fi for uploading to Kodak Gallery in just a few seconds. What I found odd is that there didn’t seem to be an option to look at your pictures in Kodak Gallery directly (as there was on the ill-fated Kodak EasyShare One camera) although that may change. What about other sharing services? Motorola said that it would be bundling the Shozu application, which will add support for Flickr, Facebook, Photobucket, and more. Idiot-Proof Panorama Mode. This is the coolest thing I saw. After you enter Panorama mode and fire off the first shot, a box will appear on the MOTOZINE ZN5′s 2.4-inch display to help you line up the next shot that will be stitched together. No big deal right? Wrong. When you do line up that next shot the shutter automatically fires on the ZN5, that’s not even available on Kodak’s own standalone digicams yet. I asked whether you could share panoramic pictures via MMS but Motorola didn’t have an answer yet, as the ZN5s in the room had Wi-Fi enabled but not cellular data. Outlook Motorola and Kodak have done a very nice job creating a camera phone that’s not only powerful but easy to use. The lack of 3G is a bummer, but if the MOTOZINE ZN5 is priced right we’LL likely forgive that omission. The only other drawback I noticed was that VGA videos recorded in camcorder mode looked blurry when played back in full-screen mode, though Motorola and Kodak said the main focus was on photo capability. Overall, the ZN5 isn’t just “good for a camera phone.” It’s has all the right ingredients to be your only camera. Period.

AUTHOR BIO
Mark Spoonauer
Mark Spoonauer
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptopmag.com, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
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  1. Abhishek Says:

    No 3G- its disappointing :(

  2. Yups Says:

    How good is that camera compared to N82?

  3. charlie Says:

    The lack of 3G IS disappointing, but the iphone is still sainted by everyone, and it had no 3G until this year. I dont think it is a big worrying point. This is the best camera phone I have seen to date, with the only exception being that Sony-Ericsson C905. I dont know if that one had all these features though. Go moto!

  4. Duyen Bui Thi Says:

    It’s beautiful and cool, but I wonder if how much it is and if it is avaible in my country

  5. Paul Belshaw Says:

    Is it any wonder that Motorola are struggling against the competition when they keep releasing handsets that are so far behind the times. Apple may get away with no 3g but for everyone else the benchmark is now HSDPA and 8mp with at least 4gb of memory!

  6. K.dot Says:

    I don’t care if it doesn’t have 3g. It’s really good for Motorola. But I’m not surprised because it’s a leading telecommunications company.

  7. Bob Dredson Says:

    how much is it?

  8. Kathy Says:

    Does anyone know if at&t is going to carry this phone? I hope so I want it sooooooooo bad

  9. Big A Says:

    T-mobile!

  10. stm Says:

    Great camera, and review at
    http://amimu.blogspot.com/2008/12/motorola-zn5.html

  11. Monica Says:

    I HAD this phone, and wouldn’t recommend it. The battery life sucks and texting isn’t easy with such flat keys. I had the phone a little under a year, and didn’t like it one bit. The camera is good for a phone, yes, but even after charging the phone all night long, it would still be dead by 7pm the next evening. Just want people to know you might like it at first, but I bet you will be disappointed later! The web browsing is so slow too! I could even set the phone down on a hard flat surface, SOFTLY, and it would cause the phone to freeze or even shut off. I bought 3 new battteries for this phone by the way!! So I had to go through the process of taking out the battery and putting it back in and waiting 10 minutes for it to fully load again! I also had problems with this phone working correctly with myfaves!!!

  12. JOLLY K JOHNY Says:

    hi i am jolly this is very good camara phone. i am in UAE. i need the price and where from i will get it? enybody can help me give mail to jollykjohny@gmail.com
    thanks

  13. Christa Says:

    True, the camera is nice.

    But like Monica said the battery life and texting totally, totally suck.

  14. r4i Says:

    Can anyone explain me what do they mean when they say that the Motorola ZINE ZN5 has wi-fi but´╗┐ “data transfers only”?

  15. Wasim Says:

    I’m a proud owner of this phone.
    Motorola is using advanced predictive mode to text faster. You just type the first letter of the last message you’ve sent and it starts predicting.
    Battery life is weak but if you are looking for a camera phone then with the xenon flash on this shouldn’t be much of your concern. The phone takes less than two mins to start with its media list indexed.
    Motorola index’s(positions) all your files everytime you start your phone so that you get better performance while browsing through the files and it totally reflects when you swiftly browse through the 4GB full memory(I’ve tried).
    I’ve tried Sony’s 8.1MP Shooters and I can say that Kodak’s this product gives them a head on competition.

  16. alyce Says:

    Hey Monica,
    I wish I would have seen your post earlier. I had the same problems with my motozine and tmobile figured out it was actually a harware issue and replaced the phone for me. No problems since. They did warn me of battery complaints of which I have had to problems. Who is your provider??? I have not learned to use every feature in the phone in the time I have had it and my only complaint is I wish I could. I have opted for no internet on it though, which can make some of that harder.

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