This year we created the ZDNet Holiday Guide and while putting together the best feature phone guide I was particularly intrigued by the Motorola MOTOZINE ZN5 and Samsung Behold from T-Mobile. My contacts at T-Mobile promptly sent them both to me for a couple of weeks and I have had trouble putting one of them back in the box. The lines between features phones and smartphones are definitely getting blurred with phones like these becoming available at some great prices. Read about my thoughts and experiences with both of these devices below and check out my image gallery that has product photos for each device. I also shot a video of each device to give you a feel for them too.
|Image Gallery:A walk around the MOTOZINE ZN5 and Samsung Behold T-Mobile feature phones.|
Motorola MOTOZINE ZN5 A large number of mobile phones have passed through my hands and the only ones that would actually let me leave the digital camera at home were the Nokia N95, N82, and N96. I never really thought a feature phone would be included in that elite group, but the Motorola MOTOZINE ZN5 from T-Mobile performed very well as a camera and will allow you to leave your point and shoot digital camera behind. The ZN5 comes with 5 megapixel camera with Kodak Imaging technology and a Xenon flash. WiFi is also included to allow you to quickly upload your photos to your Kodak Gallery. There are some features on the ZN5 that I don't even have on my digital camera.
In the box: Motorola and T-Mobile include everything you need to use all the functionality of your MOTOZINE ZN5, including the handset, battery and charger, wired stereo headset, 1 GB microSD card, microUSB to USB cable, TV output/AV cable, photo tools CD, Getting Started and User's Guides. The AV cable was a bit of a surprise since this type of accessory is usually an extra you need to purchase. With the cable you simply plug it into the 3.5mm headset jack and then view your captured photos and videos on your TV or monitor.
Specifications: The Motorola MOTOZINE ZN5 has the following specificatons:
- Quad-band GSM phone
- 5 megapixel camera with autofocus and Xenon flash
- 350 MB onboard memory, microSD card slot
- Integrated Bluetooth radio with A2DP support
- Integrated WiFi radio for image uploading
- Integrated FM radio
- Standard 3.5mm headset jack
- 950 mAh lithium-ion battery
- Dimensions: 4.6 x 2.0 x 0.5 inches, 3.9 ounces
Walk around the hardware: After pulling the Motorola ZN5 out of the box, I was immediately impressed by the solid quality feel of the device in my hand. The display on the front is a large 2.4 inches with a resolution of 240x320 pixels. It is bright and crisp and looks fantastic.
Below the display you will find the left and right soft keys, gallery review key, and back button. The send and end buttons are found on the outside of these four keys and are colored green and red. There is a directional pad in the center for easy navigation. Below these keys are the phone keypad. There are no individual buttons for each key, but there is a flat membrane with small jewel-like nubs at the center of each number.
There are also three areas on the keypad that light up when the camera is used to allow you to preview/toggle photos and the camera, delete photos, and quickly share them to your gallery. These three areas light up in purple when the functions are enabled.
On the right side you will find the volume buttons up towards the top with a lock button below this. The lock button is a slider that serves to quickly lock and unlock the keys on the device and is a very welcome addition, IMHO. Moving down the right side, we find a bright purple button that is used for capturing images and video. A durable rubber covering wraps around the bottom and back of the device that extends up to the sides too.
Looking at the left side we find part of the lanyard loop opening that wraps up around the top. Below this you will find the standard 3.5mm headset jack. Along the bottom is a rubber cover for the microUSB port that is used to charge and connect the device to a PC.
There is nothing along the top or bottom of the device.
Swinging around to the back is where you will find the Kodak 5 megapixel camera and Xenon flash lens. There is a sliding camera lens cover that when slid open starts up the camera software. Closing it closes down the camera software too. The camera module up in the top 1/4 part of the ZN5 protrudes out from the back a couple mm, but also has a smooth transition to the back so it still feels great in your hand. The Xenon lens is key to taking great photos in low lighting conditions and is optimized for still shots.
Usage experiences: This is a feature phone, so it has a fairly standard phone interface that gives you access to your contacts, calendar, games & apps, messages, email, IM, photos, and settings. Since the device is focused on the high powered camera, the Kodak Gallery functionality is prominent on the device. You need to first setup an account and then you can upload to the gallery for sharing with family and friends. You can also share photos to your T-Mobile gallery or copy to your PC.
The camera software is quite functional and uses the directional pad to easily adjust the flash, white balance, focus, low light control, and tagging. Red-eye flash is supported too. There are 5 and 10 second auto timers, multi-shot mode (4 quick photos in a row), and panorama functions in still camera mode. The extremely cool part of the panorama function is that when you line up to take the second shot (out of 3) the shutter fires automatically to capture this and the third shot and then stitches them all together. I wish more panoramic functional cameras/devices had this capability.
One thing that was really amazing about the ZN5 was the very fast response between taking photos. I could shoot an image and then the phone was ready to go with another image within just a second or so and is much faster than my dedicated digital camera.
In addition to taking great photos, you can perform some basic editing on the phone before sharing the photos. You can rotate, crop, mirror, resize, set styles (sepia, negative, contrast, brightness, blur, and more), and add elements.
Video is supported too, but the quality is not that great and I don't recommend this device if video capability is important to you.
T-Zones and basic browsing is supported on the ZN5, but remember it is an EDGE phone and not a 3G phone. Email is supported and there are several supported clients, including AOL, Yahoo!, Gmail, Comcast, Mac, Juno, and more. I used it with Gmail during my test period and it worked pretty well, even if it was a basic application. AIM, ICQ, Yahoo! Messenger, and Windows Live Messenger are supported IM clients on the ZN5. There is a music player too and with the standard 3.5mm headset jack you can enjoy your favorite tunes on the ZN5.
Other functions you would expect on a feature phone are also supported and work well on the ZN5.
Price, availability, and final thoughts on the ZN5: The Motorola MOTOZINE ZN5 is available now from T-Mobile USA for US$99.99 after rebate and contract. I like to use my phone with my Exchange server at work and need a higher end smartphone to do all that I want on my phone. I was able to download Opera Mini (trying to get a better browser experience), but T-Mobile blocks these type of applications and this makes the browsing experience (even via WiFi) less than optimal. I have been seriously thinking of picking up one of these because it serves as an incredibly compact and powerful digital camera phone and feels fantastic in your hand. If you want an excellent camera phone, then I highly recommend you check this one out.
I highly recommend you check out Mobile-review's full review of the ZN5 if you are interested at all in this phone.
Samsung Behold SGH-T919 Samsung has been rolling out a large number of new touch screen only devices running multiple operating systems. They have the OMNIA running Windows Mobile, Instinct for Sprint, and Samsung Glyde. One of the newest member of this similar form factor phone is the Samsung Behold from T-Mobile that comes in both Espresso (brown) and Rose (pink). I was sent the Espresso color device to check out and was pleased to see such a compelling feature phone running on T-Mobile's 3G wireless network.
In the box: The T-Mobile Samsung Behold box contents include the Behold, battery, charger, wired stereo headset, and Getting Started, T-Mobile Services and User Guides.
Specifications: The Samsung Behold (aka Roxy) has the following specificatons:
- Quad-band GSM phone (850/900/1800/1900 MHz)
- Dual Band UMTS/HSDPA (1700/2100 MHz)
- 240x400 pixels 3 inch touch screen display (resistive) with haptics
- 5 megapixel camera
- 180 MB onboard memory, microSD card slot
- Integrated Bluetooth radio with A2DP support
- Integrated GPS receiver
- 1000 mAh lithium-ion battery
- Dimensions: 4.1 x 2.1 x 0.5 inches, 4.0 ounces
Walk around the hardware: The Samsung Behold is smaller than I thought it would be and fits very well in the Palm of my hand. The design is also much simpler than I though it would be with just a send, end and back button on the front of the Behold below the 3 inch display. The display is bright and crisp and looks quite nice. It is a resistive, touch screen display, but you honestly probably won't even realize this because it is so responsive to finger presses. I am not sure what Samsung has done to make this display so responsive to your finger, but it gives you the best of both worlds since you can use your fingertip or fingernail/stylus to navigate the device.
On the right side you will find lock button and camera capture button with the lanyard loop opening located towards the bottom. The volume controls are up towards the top of the left side. Below this is the standard Samsung port used for charging and the headset. There is nothing on the top and on the bottom all you will find is the microphone opening.
I like the mechanism for releasing the metal back cover. You slide the bottom down and then the upper part of the back lifts up and off. Below the back cover you will find the battery, SIM card slot, and microSD card slot. You need to take out the battery to get to the microSD card slot.
Usage experiences: I was pleased to see another 3G-capable phone on the T-Mobile 3G network because there are very few to choose from at this time. Unfortunately, the 3G network is still rather limited and while I do get a 3G signal in Seattle, I don't see this anywhere outside of King County. After you charge up and turn on the Behold you will see a home screen that looks very similar to what can be found on the Samsung OMNIA. It is fairly standard on other Samsung devices today and gives you the ability to manage from a selected list of widgets to place on and off the home screen. Widgets available on the Behold include My Faves, web browser, photo viewer, music player, IM, some T-Mobile management widgets (search, my account), Bluetooth manager, voice dialing, TeleNav GPS software, clock, and calendar. The problem is that you can only place a few of these on the home screen and some of the icons are bigger than they need to be to serve as a shortcut.
Samsung does a good job of adding some of their custom applications and utilities into their TouchWIZ UI that actually give you a fairly consistent experience across different devices and operating systems. They have their music player, photo viewer, and video player. Videos play nicely on the device and with the accelerometer on the device you can rotate between portrait and landscape modes just be turning the device.
The haptics feedback when you touch the display is helpful for letting you know you touched the display and correctly tapped on an icon. Even though there are very few buttons, I found I could fly around the device with the touch screen and back button.
The web browser is decent and lets you access most websites. However, T-Mobile has some things locked down and you cannot install and use Opera Mini that would give you a much better browser experience. Similar to the ZN5, you can setup to receive your email from a number of providers. When you want to create a message you can use the on-screen 12-key phone keypad in portrait mode or the much better full QWERTY keyboard in landscape mode. While there are haptics when you press a character, I could not really confirm what I pressed even when the pop-up appears to the left or right of the selected character. The Behold does have a decent predictive text engine so it will prompt for words as you type and auto correct your spelling too.
The 5 megapixel camera performs quite well and lets you capture still images and video (320x240 max resolution). Shooting modes include single, continuous. panorama, smile shot (not supposed to capture unless a smile is made), and mosaic. There is a 2, 5, and 10 second timer mode too. There is no red-eye flash. You can play with effects (black and white, sepia, negative, and water color to have a bit of fun with the camera. There are a large number of settings present for adjusting focus, ISO settings, quality, anti-shake, storage location, shutter sound, and much more.
After you take your photo, a pop-up appears to let you send to your T-Mobile album online or add a voice note to the photo. You can also edit a photo you have taken by applying effects, resizing, cropping, and adjusting photo attributes (brightness, color, contrast). You can also write memos right on the photo if you like. Printing to a Bluetooth printer is also supported.
The camera really is a blast to use and all these features make you quickly forget that you are using a feature phone and not a full "smartphone".
Price, availability, and final thoughts on the ZN5: The Samsung Behold is available now from T-Mobile USA for US$99.99 after rebate and contract. The Behold is attractive, feels great in your hand, and the touch screen is fun to use. Again, I have been seriously thinking about picking one of these up because of the ease of use, fun camera features, and 3G support. I really am more of a hardware keyboard person myself though, which is the only reason I traded way my Samsung OMNIA a couple months ago.
T-Mobile has a couple of winners with the ZN5 and Behold and at US$100 they should do well this holiday season. If a high end camera is your main desire to be combined with your phone look at the Motorola MOTOZINE ZN5 and if you want a touch screen device with a decent camera and 3G support on T-Mobile then take a look at the Samsung Behold.