Motorola Z8 'kick slider' media phone
Does this 'multimedia monster' shape up?
Review After years of flogging the Razr to death, and some very uninspired siblings, Motorola finally has something interesting to offer for the more demanding end of the market. The Z8, announced in May and available in the UK this week, is a well-designed capable media phone. But the Z8 is a rare thing in this day and age: a product the manufacturer actually cares about.
The most immediate eye-catching aspect of this phone is its "kick slider" design. This differs from a regular slider phone as the base contains a hinge - giving it its distinctive 'banana' shape when open. The hinge has some give, which means the phone flexes a little once it's open. This is disconcerting at first, but it's a practical design decision that you appreciate after some use. Without this flexing, the phone would be brittle and break easily.
Motorola says that by bringing the earpiece closer to your ear, and the microphone closer to your mouth, phone calls are more comfortable to make, as the Z8 fits the curve of your face. In fact, what makes the Z8 so comfortable to use is more about balance than shape. The phone's large 'chin' gives it a low centre of gravity, seating it firmly in your hand. Unlike other sliders, it doesn't feel like it's going to fly out of the top of your hand. This is one of the first sliders to feel like its natural state is open, not closed. Hats off to the designers here.
These folk also strived to give the Z8 a smooth look and feel: buttons are recessed beneath the surface of the case, and there's no gory connector at the bottom of the device. This doesn't always work to the user's advantage: the numeric keypad could certainly be more responsive. The call-end button trebles up as both the power button and the keylock. A mini USB port serves for both charging, PC connections and plugging in a headset.
The Z8's other attention-grabber is the screen. With 16m colours on view, it isn't ground-breaking: but the quality, with the default font Motorola has chosen, is quite sensational. The balance of the aesthetics really works, unlike with Nokia's high-end models - where the text is either too large or too small - or the spidery lettering used by Sony Ericsson's own UIQ phones.
At the end of the day it's still a Motorola and the only people to buy it will be the great unwashed in their Burberry who can't afford a decent phone and think the Razr was the height of sophistication.
Is Motorola getting better?
It sounds quite positive to me. The problem I always had with Motorola was the software on the phones was just horrendous with poorly designed menus and apps that absolutely repelled me. The stuck to peddling gimmicks like the Razr for too long. Still, given the huge streak of mediocrity on phone design it's encouraging that Motorola is actually trying to do better. The last Nokia and Sony Ericsson I've had have been hugely underwhelming.
re: howls of outrage
unlike a certain other phone, this one won't be costing the user that price - within a month or so they will be given it at no extra charge with their contract - just like almost every other phone out there.
re: No howls of outrage?
Why should there be? Unlike certain other shockingly expensive phones of late, this one is spec'd with everything a top-end 'phone should have, not just what the manufacturer *thinks* a 'phone should have, as well as actually allowing features to be added/not locking them down - the crucial difference between mobile manufacturers, and those who make mobiles as a fashion accessory...
Back to the Z8: If only Motorola would get rid of that sodding iTAP system and use the T9 standard as per everyone else, I'd consider this over the forthcoming Sony-Ericsson W910...
No howls of outrage?
A $670 phone and no one screaming blue murder that it doesn't have GPS (or did the reviewer forget to mention it?); or complaining that it only has a 2MP camera; or saying "I would never pay that much for a phone"; blah, blah, blah...