We all know that Apple changed the game when it came to cell phones. The iPhone’s interface is second to none currently; everyone and their brother is now trying to out do Apple. Motorola has come up with a really interesting take on a touchscreen interface that has a lot of influence from Verizon.
The Motorola Krave ZN4 is unique in the touchscreen phone category as it is also a flip phone. As you can see from the pictures, the flip portion of the Krave is actually clear, with its earphone speaker seemingly hanging in the air. The speaker is a actual speaker, and sound does come out of it, although I am not exactly sure how Motorola wired it – you can’t see any telltale line in the clear cover. A great feature of this clear cover is that you can interact through the cover with the touchscreen beneath. This has a plus and a minus: The plus is that while you’re using the mobile TV service provided by Qualcomm’s MediaFlo technology, you can change the channel without having to flip the cover up. The minus is if you forget to lock it, you may accidentally turn on the TV service, VZW Navigator or the music player. It’s no problem unless you forget to turn it off.
Motorola has done a decent job in conjunction with Verizon by coming up with a interface that is similar to the iPhone’s. However, there are little things that detract from the usefulness of the Krave’s implementation. For instance, the Krave has an accelerometer similar to the iPhone’s. When you’re in text message mode, you can turn the Krave on its side, the screen will rotate, and an iPhone-like keyboard will come up. This keyboard works very well and makes text messaging pretty easy. The interface fails because the screen only rotates in the text message mode, VZW Navigator, V Cast TV, the Web Browser and any time you need to enter text information. The rest of the time, the menu is in a vertical orientation. It would be much easier to text message if you could just use the horizontal mode the whole time.
The Krave is one of the Verizon Wirleess phones that is equipped with Visual Voice Mail, and it works really well. In fact, it’s very convenient and I wish Verizon would put this feature on all of their phones. My only slight issue with Verizon’s visual voice mail is that you still have voice mail contacts by default in your contact list, and you can still use the old voice mail system as well. Once you’ve used visual voice mail, there’s no reason to go back to the old stuff.
The Krave has V Cast TV, which is driven by Media Flo and has excellent quality, but it is done in a way that is different then you might think. It has a Nickelodeon channel, but it’s not the same content that is being simultaneously broadcast on Cable TV. It’s like another Nickelodeon channel, but only on V Cast TV and only on Media Flo. However, Fox News, CNBC and MSNBC do appear to be exactly the same as their cable counterparts. V Cast TV is excellent in video quality, but it kind of misses the point. The world is moving away from scheduled content with the exception of sports and headline news. For TV shows, it doesn’t seem to be right to have to be on a schedule. I would rather see Verizon improve the quality of their standard V Cast service, and eliminate the YouTube like splitting of TV shows.
The Krave does has the number one most important feature for me which is a standard 3.5 mm headphone jack. When you want to listen to music, V Cast or V Cast TV you can use any set of ear buds with this phone, and it works fine. When you get a call, you just lift the handset to your ear like, you can speak into the phone’s microphone, and hear the call in your earbuds. The phone also supports Bluetooth headsets, and I had no problem pairing every Bluetooth headset I tried. The Krave also has good A2DP support as well.
Battery life on the Krave is quite good; I found it to last for about 3 days with sporadic use. When using services like Mobile Web or listening to music, battery life goes down, but you should be able to last the whole day on a charge easily.
Call quality was excellent on this phone. I never had one dropped call, but that’s probably thanks to the great coverage Verizon has in the Columbus area.
With all the good that Motorola has done with the Krave, I can’t get past the inconsistencies in its touch interface. They make it a hassle to text on this phone, as it would be much easier if there were a menu which could also be rotated. With that said, I would probably put the Krave ZN4 on my short list of phones, if it’s still available next fall when I am ready for my “new every two”.
The Krave is available from Verizon Wireless for $179.99 with a 2 year contract and a $50.00 online discount when ordering through the Verizon Website.
What I liked: 3.5 mm Headphone Jack
What needs improvement: They need to tweak the interface slightly and improve the web browser, as it’s still a WAP Browser and in this day and age these phones should have enough power to do a full HTML browser.