Motorola RIZR Z8 in-depth review -

Look and Feel

With its black and fluorescent green trim and banana-styling, the Z8 slider is one of the most distinctive phones on the market. It's well built and comfortable to use, though.

Features

On the plus side it boasts HSDPA and fabulous video streaming features with the Bourne Identity movie boxed with the phone. On the downside is the ordinary 2-megapixel camera.

Ease of Use

Motorola has made some serious improvments to this phone's user interface, but it'll take a few days to really get up to speed.

Performance

A slick performer in every department except the camera. Although, you may find the screen to small for a whole film, the RIZR Z8 renders movies and video superbly.

Battery Life

The RIZR Z8 offers reasonable juice, but the multimedia extras do drain the battery.

 Motorola RIZR Z8 Review -
4

Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/12/2011 3:49:36 PM

8

out of 10

Performance

8

out of 5

Look and feel

8

out of 5

Ease of use

8

out of 5

Features

6

out of 5

Battery life

Pros:

The stand-out features of the Z8 have to be its quality video playback, slick KiKR-slider and the more user-friendly and customisable Symbian-based UI.

Cons:

For a phone of the Z8's ranking, the two-megapixel camera is miserable. Why not 3.2, Motorola?

The MOTORIZR Z8 review

This Symbian smartphone was one of the hot tickets at this year's 3GSM show in Barcelona, wowing crowds with its unique curved slider action and supreme video playback. It certainly grabbed our attention, but can the RIZR Z8 rekindle Motorola's fortunes in the UK?

Grab this phone on contract and you'll get a pair of MOTOROKR S9 Stereo Bluetooth headphones (worth £70+) and The Bourne Identity on memory card. Not bad at all. It's all very well dressing the Z8 up with free stuff but what really matters is the phone's performance

Design

The Moto RIZR Z8 takes its design cues from the original Moto RIZR Z3, but where this mid-range handset was a little rickety, the Z8 smartphone is solid and a bit longer and wider. It feels quite weighty, but at 112g, it is roughly the same tonnage as the Sony Ericsson K810i and still highly pocketable. The tactile soft paint finish also makes a return, while a metal panel sits on the back cover, housing a two-megapixel lens and an easily accessible SIM card slot.

More conspicuous is the bright green trim that contrasts with the Z8's  black torso. This garish hue also stretches to the slide hinge in the centre of the phone.

The banana phone

The Z8 was dubbed the 'banana phone' on its unveiling at 3GSM, flaunting Motorola's unique curved slider action. The idea behind the KiKR mechanism is that the phone's crescent shape hugs the contours of the face while you make a call with the microphone closer to your mouth to improve call quality. It works just like a normal slider, but halfway up, a spring hinge kicks up the front. The glide is slick, the hinge is sturdy and to close the phone, you have to press down on the screen and pull the front using the thumb ridge for extra grip. The KiKR hinge also possesses immense bounce-back-ability. Lay the open phone front side down, give it a good thump (now don't hold back) and watch the hinge take the heat and spring back. It's incredibly robust and passed the test with flying colours.

16-million colour display

The front controls and keypad appear touch-sensitive, but are actually mechanised and are responsive and lucid to thumb. The keypad is also slightly bowed but this doesn't affect usability. Along its sides, the Z8 sports a camera shutter key, a dedicated media key to access your music, photos and videos, plus a volume switch and a hot-swappable microSD card slot. Motorola is also really pushing the phone as a full-on entertainment device with the emphasis heavily on video and TV. The screen will need to be a sparkler to cope with moving pictures, so Motorola has crammed the QVGA display with over 16 million colours and it looks bright, detailed, crisp and vivid.

Symbian operating system

Many punters who have in the past found Motorola's user interface exasperating, shouldn't be put off by the RIZR Z8. Why? Because Motorola has dumped its UI for a Symbian UIQ OS. The manufacturer has adapted the normally touch-screen-driven smartphone UIQ platform, but dissenters will be pleased to hear there's not one whiff or trace of the original thorny UI and its much easier to use. One of the features of the new Symbian UIQ OS is the ability to cleverly customise the home screen with plug-ins or five popular features. The choice is limited, but you can choose from call info, messages, emails, calendars, profile and music player.

HSDPA speeds

As you would expect for Motorola's flagship phone, the Z8 is fitted with an HSDPA motor for fast downloads and web browsing. Current network speeds reach a maximum of 1.8Mbps, but the Z8 is future proof for the next generation 3.6Mbps. Of course, you will have to wait for the networks to upgrade their systems to take advantage. Full web pages are loaded pretty speedily over an HSDPA connection and you can have them rendered for the small screen or in full HTML glory.

Two megapixel camera

It remains a mystery why Motorola has yet to breach the two-megapixel camera mark on its handsets. The camera does have the usual white balance, modes, sharpness and effects to tweak and, while the flash isn't of Xenon standard, it's superior to a crude LED light and gives consistent and even illumination. Unfortunately, the lens lacks auto-focus, but shoots in a 1600x1200-pixel resolution and the picture quality has a certain amount of clarity and focus, despite being afflicted with annoying shutter lag.

Uploading photos with Shozu

Also embedded is a handy Shozu app that lets you upload your snaps easily to this popular web-based sharing service. Shozu is also in cahoots with partners like eBlogger, YouTube and Flickr, so posting your pictures to these websites is a simple affair.

The Z8 excels more in the video department than photography, capturing at 30 frames per second in QVGA quality. Understandably, it doesn't match the Nokia N95 at VGA standard, but it's still smoother than most handsets out there. You will experience some judder, but we were pleasantly surprised at its slick rendering.

Verdict

So has the MOTORIZR Z8 got the chutzpah with the big boys to revive Motorola's cred? It certainly has enough in its locker to muscle with its flagship rivals and Motorola has managed to put aside its unhealthy devotion to the RAZR and concentrate on fashioning a cracking smartphone with enough to entice back those Motorola deserters.