Popular Search

Motorola Krave ZN4


Bookmark and Share

Motorola’s Krave ZN4 puts a new twist on touch. This unique clamshell, available from Verizon Wireless for $149, lets you operate the phone through the clear lid, although you can do much more with it open. And this device supports the stellar V CAST Mobile TV service and offers very good call quality. The on-screen keyboard is awkward, though, making the ZN4 a poor choice for messaging, but otherwise it’s a solid, value-priced multimedia handset for Verizon Wireless customers.


A descendant of the Motorola Ming, the ZN4 is beautiful. It looks like a concept phone come to life. At 4.6 ounces and 4.1 x 2.0 x 0.8 inches, the device was comfortable to hold, but when we placed it against our ear, the flat base of the unit felt a little awkward against our face, since the lid’s drop hinge rests directly on your cheek.

As with all clamshells, the ZN4’s earpiece is built into the lid. Because the lid is transparent, when you open the phone the earpiece looks like it’s floating, a feature that’s visually arresting. Upon closer inspection, we could see a small wire mesh running up the lid to the earpiece. That mesh also enables the lid to be used as a touchscreen for controlling the display beneath it. Unfortunately the lid recognized our key presses about two-thirds of the time.


With the lid closed, the touchscreen’s effective size is a 2.4-inch, 320 x 240-pixel area; open the phone, and you’re treated to a beautiful 2.8-inch, 400 x 240 LCD touchscreen, surrounded by a reflective smoky gray border. Arrayed around the sides of the Krave ZN4 are volume controls, a 3.5mm headphone jack, mini-USB port, microSD Card slot, camera button, and phone lock.


User Interface

The ZN4’s UI starts out with a home screen, to which you can apply a custom image background. On the top are four icons for accessing your messages, the dialpad, the main menu, and your contacts. The date and time are stamped at the bottom of the screen. The main menu is straightforward: 12 icons represent the usual applications, such as VZ Navigator and Media Center, and it’s simple enough to use when the flip phone is open. Navigate through menus is intuitive, and you never need to dig much to get to the important stuff such as music or the Web; those icons are right on the home screen.

Too bad the UI is a bit sluggish. When we clicked a menu it would take about a half second for the phone to recognize our input before opening that directory. If you tap the screen too gently, nothing will open. This was frustrating; when trying to switch songs quickly, we had to give a firm press to switch between album and artist lists.

/uploadedImages/Multimedia_Assets/Images/2008/Reviews/cell-phones/verizon_krave_lidleft_sf.jpgWith the lid closed, you can use the touchscreen to play music, watch TV, view pictures, and access VZ Navigator, but you can’t access the keyboard. That means you can’t type in directions for VZ Navigator, and you can’t search for music by typing in an artist or album name. If you get a text message, you can view it, but you need to open the phone to respond.


The ZN4’s QWERTY on-screen keyboard is one of the worst we’ve used. Trying to type on the display with the phone open—which requires you to turn the phone on its side—is awkward at best, as the open lid makes it difficult to comfortably use your left hand. Not helping is the fact that the touchscreen sometimes didn’t recognize key presses.

When we pointed this out to Motorola, company representatives told us to use our index fingers, an uncomfortable and impractical technique in an age where thumb-typing is standard on just about every mobile device.

Thankfully, the alphanumeric dialpad is easier to use, because the numbers are large and clear. However, when we typed quickly, the keypad didn’t recognize every number, resulting in repetitive presses of the CLR button. You can switch between the alphanumeric pad and the QWERTY layout by flipping the phone; the ZN4’s accelerometer automatically adjusts between landscape and horizontal mode.

Sphere: Related Content


Recent Post

Recent Comment