The glossy black surface complements the stainless steel body to give the handset a good sense of style. While the phone feels a tad heavy in the hand, its bulk suggests certain robustness.
The Z10 sports a host of video capabilities, both recording and watching, and the 3.2-megpaixel camera is Motorola’s most powerful snapper to date. Other standout features include HSDPA and the ability to house a 32GB memory card.
The control panel is a tad crowded, and the numeric keypad required a degree of force in each key press.
The video-editing suite was easy to use while remaining comprehensive, and the 30fps video playback is excellent. The 3.2-megapixel camera ultimately falls short of other more equipped camera phones.
With video playback featuring so prominently in the Z10, it’s a relief to find a commendable battery life.
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/12/2011 3:52:31 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
The MOTO Z10 excels in all things video, be it the 30fps playback ability or the well catered for editing suite.
Both the home screen and the control panel are a little crowded.
Motorola, remember them? Well after a relatively quiet year, the American manufacturer hopes to jog people’s memory with its premium-end slider phone, the MOTO Z10. With video at its core, both recording and playing, will it prove to be an Oscar winner, or a Raspberry letdown?
The MOTORIZR Z8 proved a hugely popular handset when it was launched last summer, in part to the fact that it came bundled with a full version of the original Jason Bourne film, The Bourne Identity. Perhaps trying to recreate former glories, the MOTO Z10 uses the same banana-like design of the Z8, and this time you don’t just get the first Bourne film; you get the entire trilogy, something Motorola needs to take credit for. But more of that later.
With a glossy black face placed on top of a stainless steel body, the Z10 has a good aesthetic look. At 119g it’s a tad on the heavy side, and pre-slide, it resembles a thick candybar rather than a sleek slider; however, its bulk and steel anatomy does suggest a manner of robustness, and as with the Z8, the sliding mechanism glides effortlessly. The idea behind the banana-like design is that the contours of the phone fit comfortably around your face, providing a better call quality as the microphone is in closer proximity to your mouth. Pop the slider open and the screen pops up on a hinge creating a curve-like affect. In truth, when we used the phone, none of our recipients made any reference to how clear we sounded, nor did they say how bad it was.
The MOTO Z10’s home screen is unusual in that it feels quite cluttered. Whereas the norm tends to be for handsets to simply show the operator, time, date and shortcut to the menu screen pitched on a bright colourful display, the Z10 does all this along with five ‘plug-ins’. Each plug-in consists of an icon with a short description of what it does. The plug-ins can be changed to your liking, but we felt that it made the screen too crowded.
To access the menu, you need to press the designated menu key found on the left of the circular navigation key. As with the home screen, there’s a lot going on in terms of controls. Along with the menu key, two soft keys, a call key, an end key and a clear key that can be used to delete text surround the navigation pad. All the keys are flat but are separated by small raised bars to help you differentiate between them. The keys on the numeric pad are large and well spaced apart, but they were a little stiff and required an element of force.
As we mentioned, video is at the forefront of the Z10. By bundling in the entire Bourne Trilogy on a 1GB microSD card, Motorola had to be pretty confident of the phone’s playback ability. Playing at 30 frames per second (fps), the MOTO Z10 provides a DVD quality experience. While some may snort at the idea of watching a two-hour film on a 2.2-inch screen, the quality cannot be denied, although we can’t help but feel that Motorola has missed a trick by not including a TV out cable, allowing users to watch their films on a larger screen.
The MOTO Z10 uses the Mobiclip Player software to play its video content, which proved a real joy due to its ease of use. It has to be said that the Z10’s built-in memory is poor at only 70MB, but it does have the ability to house memory cards up to 32GB, which is an immense amount of storage.
It’s not just watching videos that the Z10 excels at. The Media Editor application allows you to create your own movies, adding soundtracks, subtitles, commentary, or merging videos together to create a storyboard. It was cracking fun to do, although you spend a great deal more time editing your videos than the actual playtime.
Motorola has long championed the argument that it’s not the number of megapixels that make a great camera; it’s the camera’s other attributes such as the quality of flash. They have a point in that unless you are going to blow up your pictures to A3 size, it really doesn’t make a huge difference whether you’re shooting with two or seven megapixels. Despite this, the manufacturer has fitted the Z10 with its most powerful camera to date with 3.2-megapixels, in addition to auto-focus and a xenon flash. What’s more, Motorola claims that from pressing the quick dedicated camera key, found on the right-hand side of the phone, taking the snap can be achieved in just one second. We found the results to be closer to two, especially as you will usually have to unlock the phone, but there’s no denying it is fast and should help with capturing those spur of the moment shots.
While the camera results are perfectly acceptable and there’s a host of features to play around with, the Z10 still falls short of more equipped camera phones, such as Sony Ericsson’s K850i Cyber-shot or Samsung’s G800. The secondary VGA camera is also poor, though it does mean you will be able to conduct video calls if you so wish. Another slight grumble we had was that rather than use the ideally positioned volume keys as the zooming functions, you must instead use the trickier navigation pad, which takes away from the authentic camera feel.
The Z10’s camera abilities, be it video or stationary, are not the only thing that makes up the phone’s heavy feature set. The HSDPA capabilities enhance the built-in applications such as Shozu, which lets you upload your pics and videos to blogging sites such as Twitter and YouTube, and the Vtap video application allows you to search and browse web videos from any source on the internet. One application we really liked was Sky Anytime, which gives you the ability to program your Sky Plus box direct from your handset, meaning you can record your favourite programmes while out and about.
With the emphasis on video, the MOTO Z10 succeeds in achieving its aim. Motorola has produced a handset that doubles up as a capable video-editing suite, and the video playback needs to be applauded as does the inclusion of three full Hollywood blockbusters. While we had a few issues with the fiddly controls, we were compensated with some novel and useful applications. Though a relatively quiet year, the MOTO Z10 could be just the handset to put Motorola back on the map.