Motorola Z10 mobile phone

The new Motorola Z10, successor to the Z8, comes with the tag line "We’re all film makers now". But is this phone worth getting excited about? We find out.

The Z10 takes on the kick slider form that we saw in the Z8. This somewhat quirky design from Motorola is actually very comfortable to use as a phone, with the bend meaning the handset cups the side of your face rather than sticking out at a jaunty angle like many sliders.

It also has that Transformers feel to it, not only in the industrial looking silver and grey back, but in way it slickly moves from open to closed. We’re almost disappointed that it doesn’t sprout legs and walk off. However, as sliders go, the Z10 feels solid, well engineered and excellently crafted.

Minimalist it certainly isn’t and you’ll find a combination of hard and soft buttons. The front features the normal Motorola four-way control and enter buttons, as well as your call buttons, back, menu access and two additional soft buttons to select options that sit across the bottom of the screen when needed.

Around the sides you’ll find a dedicated camera button, volume and media player access. Slide the phone open and the keypad is revealed, which has a good quality feel to it although the buttons do need a firm press.

You’ll also find a microSD card slot, which supports microSDHC, so you could be looking at 32GB of external memory. Playing into the film theme the Z10 comes with the Bourne trilogy on microSD (you’ll also see a heavy concentration of Moto products in the films…). So lets move on to these acclaimed movie functions.

Around the back of the phone you’ll find a 3.2MP camera, which will shoot stills and video. Video capture is MPEG4 H.264, at 30fps, up to QVGA, although in the phone the settings options refer to quality as low, medium or high and the sizes as small, medium or large. There are a whole host of settings you can choose from – perhaps too many – and in reality it will take some trial and error to get the best results.

You can view back your video on the 240 x 320 display, which gives you 16 million colours. The screen is adequate for the job, but don’t get carried away, this is only a phone, and nothing will detract from the fact that you’re watching a movie on a tiny screen. You also need to consider that watching movies will eat battery, so you'll be charging daily.

In the phone you get a basic media editing application, which is simple and great fun, although you’ll need to keep jumping in and out of menus to get the full effect. Photo slideshows, basic photo editing and cutting video movies are all easy; the movie editing feature means you only have to keep the funny part, and you can ditch the rest.

You’ll also find ShoZu onboard, which provides an interface between your phone and a whole range of online video and social networking sites, so you can shoot and upload straight to your blog for example. Again, it’s a nice inclusion, but you need to consider that this has an inherent cost unless you have an unlimited data package. Video can be optimized for size to reduce data usage, but obviously you lose quality.

But these features aside, how does it work as a phone? Much better than Motorolas of the past. The text entry has become more intuitive than it has been previously and the menus are cleaner and more logical than older Motorola models. They are not up there with Nokia for simplicity, but certainly moving in the right direction.

The homepage can be customised, to a certain degree, giving you quick access to the features you use most often and one of the buttons can also be changed, from the Web default to something more useful, like Contacts.

In terms of connectivity, the Z10 supports the normal quad-band GSM/GPRS as well as HSDPA (3.6Mbps). You’ll find the usual Bluetooth as well as email support, but no Wi-Fi, so there is no way to step around those potential data costs, which is a shame.

It all sounds good – are there any negatives? Well, unfortunately there are. There is a memory and application problem within the Z10 and sometimes you’ll not be able to access a file because it is use elsewhere – presumably because the phone has another application using it, even though you can’t see it. You’ll also find that if you want to do something fairly memory intensive, like watch The Bourne Identity, you might get an memory error. The only way we could find to move around this was to restart the phone.

The supplied headset, which you are pretty might tied to because of the mini USB interface, is terrible quality and the ear buds are really uncomfortable. A Bluetooth headset might get around this and the company would probably push you towards the S9 headset, also reviewed here on Pocket-lint. It is a shame there is no headphone jack to get the most from the movie experience.

Staying on the movie theme, if you want to watch the supplied movies, you have to go to the dedicated player, rather than through the media player, which seems a little disparate. The applications are perhaps a little over the top, with Sky Anytime, vtap video and Yahoo! Go stuffed in the bottom too, all vying for your data dollars.

We also found that startup was a little slow and sometimes things take a while to open, perhaps suggesting that something under the skin is just not quite powerful enough to support all the functions on offer here.

Verdict

Overall, the Z10 is a great device with a quality feel and a butch look. It won’t cause too much a bulge in pocket but packs in a great range of features. For those who often shoot video out and about, be you a citizen blogger journalist, or teenage miscreant, then the Z10 will give you plenty of options as long as you consider any data costs if choosing the immediate online option.

It is worth commenting that as a phone, and by that we mean making calls, it is a pleasure to use. The shape as well as the sound quality is very good. For normal functions, like texting and organising yourself, Motorola has come on leaps and bounds. But we do have reservations about some of the memory allocation, the feeling that things are a little disparate and those terrible headphones.

Watching Bourne on the train is great though…


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