The Motorola RAZR was originally released towards the end of 2005. Since then, the RAZR handsets have been Motorola’s flagship handset. There have been many variations of the RAZR design, including the KRZR, the SLVR, the PEBL, the ROKR, and the RIZR. All models follow the original RAZR slim-line design strategy.
The RIZR (pronounced ‘riser’) Z3 is a slider handset with low- to mid-range functionality. It has a 2mpx digital camera, 262k colour display, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, 20MB of internal memory and a microSD memory card expansion slot.
Nothing new is brought to the table by the RIZR Z3, and the handset is very much just the same old features in a ‘new’ form factor. The Z3 is the first from the RIZR range to make it down under, and Motorola must be hoping that the form factor will be the feature that draws the consumers in.
The base features of the Z3 include the 2mpx digital camera, 176 x 220 pixel TFT LCD, microSD memory card slot, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, and quad-band GSM network compatibility. There is also the usual suite of messaging protocols: SMS/EMS, MMS, and e-mail (POP3/IMAP4) messaging with iTap predictive text.
The RIZR handsets from Motorola are slider handsets (hence the name – pronounced ‘riser’). The Z3 looks similar to the V3x model as the slider does not cover the entire front of the handset – it stops about 3cm from the bottom, just like when you close the flip of the V3x.
The sliding mechanism is spring loaded for easy opening and closing. There is a raised line just below the display which is used to get grip when pushing the slider open or closing it. All functions are accessible when the slider is closed, and you can perform any task that doesn’t require use of the numerical pad. There are six buttons below the display: two soft keys, the cancel/return key, dedicated web browser key, the pick-up and hang-up buttons, and the 5-way navigational pad.
The left hand side of the handset has the volume up/down keys and the ‘smart key’, which by default opens the Bluetooth settings window. The smart key can be changed to practically any other feature on the Z3 via the settings menu. On the right hand side of the handset is the voice command button, the dedicated camera key, and the mini-USB charging/data port.
Sliding open the Z3 will reveal the RAZR-like keypad. The buttons are large and brightly lit by blue LED’s. The only issue I had with the buttons (and I’ve had the same issue with all the RAZR-like buttons) is that they require extra force to push down and coming from a ‘regular’ keyboard this will take some time to get used to.
The back of the RIZR Z3 houses the 2mpx digital camera lens and LED flash. The battery cover is removed by pressing the chrome button on the top of the handset and flicking the cover outwards. Underneath the cover is the battery, the microSD memory card slot, and the SIM card slot. The microSD card can be removed without removing the battery, but to gain access to the SIM card the battery needs to be removed.
User interface & display
The Z3 has the age-old Motorola operating system we’ve seen in many of their handsets. It has the same faults, mainly to do with lag, and in my opinion is one of the major drawbacks of the RIZR Z3. Motorola recently announced a new Linux-based operating system… so, why aren’t they using it!?
The idle screen (home screen) displays the time, date, carrier name, reception status, GPRS activity, an icon indicating the current profile, and the battery life meter. By default, the left and right soft keys link to Messages and the camera application respectively. The navigational pad is also a shortcut menu when one of the directional buttons is pushed. The defaults are: up – multimedia; right – ring styles (profiles); down – contacts; and right – recent calls. The soft key and the directional key shortcuts can be changed through the ‘Personalize’ menu, and the directional shortcut icons can be displayed on the home screen if so desired.
Pressing the centre directional button opens the main menu. It is a 3 x 3 icon menu with links to the most used features of the handset. The title of the icon is displayed at the top of the screen. Most main icons open up a small half-screen window with a list of options (like the settings menu) or another set of icons (like the multimedia menu).
When the Z3 is in the closed position, it will automatically lock after a few seconds of inactivity. There is no way to lock the keypad when the handset is open, which is logical! To unlock the handset when it is closed, pushed the right soft key and then the left. There is some lag while unlocking so you’ll have to wait for the handset to prompt you to push the left soft key before pressing it. If you need to use the numerical keypad, just slide the handset open and it will automatically unlock.
If you’re in the middle of something and you close the display, the operating system will end the task and return to the home screen. This was quite annoying so I trawled through the menu and found a setting that allows you to select “continue task”, so what you are doing is left on the display when you close the handset! Quite handy, it should be this way by default in my opinion!
The display on the RIZR is a 240 x 320 pixel TFT LCD with 262,144 colours. The user interface of the handset isn’t that colourful so it’s quite hard to embrace the quality of the display while just using the menus – however when using the camera or watching video clips it’s a different story all together! The RIZR does have skins, which change the colour scheme and background images of the operating system. Users can select from Moto (blue), Alkali (black/silver), Cobalt (dark blue), or Indium (silver). Additional skins cannot be installed, and the main menu icons are not changed by a skin.
Making and receiving calls
With the quad-band GSM connectivity, the RIZR Z3 can be used all over the world. The handset supports the GSM 850, 900, 1800, and 1900MHz network bands. It has an integrated speakerphone, earpiece, and supports the common Bluetooth audio formats for wireless conversations.
Phone calls can be held with the slider open or closed – but closing the slider when a conversation is active will end the conversation by default. Because of the sliding form factor numbers cannot be entered without the slider being open, but if you choose a number from the phone book or a number in a message you can simply press the green pick-up button to dial that number. Pushing the red hang-up button will do just that, and end the call!
If you have entered a phone number using the numerical keys, there are several pre-call options that can be configured by pushing the left “options” soft key. You can choose to hide your caller ID, show your caller ID (if it’s been disabled), send the number a message, send a voice message (MMS), or talk and then fax the number.
The volume from the earpiece and the speakerphone was adequate for me while I was testing the handset. The volume keys on the left hand side make it easy to adjust during a call without interrupting the call.
The Z3 supports SMS/EMS, MMS, and e-mail messaging. The e-mail messaging support is for IMAP4 and POP3 servers. Following Motorola standards, the iTap predictive text system is used instead of T9 predictive text.
The left soft key by default links to the messaging application. MMS and SMS/EMS messages are stored in the shared inbox, but e-mail messaging has its own set of folders. The other folders are the outbox, drafts, and templates folder.
The RIZR Z3 doesn’t differentiate between SMS and MMS messages in the beginning. When you select “new message” the handset prompts you to select new message, new voice message, or e-mail message. If you select the first option, the message will start as an SMS message. To turn it into an MMS message, press the left soft key and then select “change to MMS”. The top right hand corner of the message composition window is a character counter, but unfortunately it does not tell you when you have gone over the one message limit. This meant that a lot of the time I ended up sending two messages because I went one or two characters over and forgot to check the character count.
The iTap predictive text input is similar to T9, but uses different keys for different functions. If you have used a Motorola handset before there is no change, but coming from a T9 system to iTap may take some getting used to!
I always have gripes with the iTap system, because they select uncommon words in place of a more common word for particular key combinations. For example, if you press ‘4’ twice (to try and get the word “Hi”) the handset will automatically select “Ii” in place of “Hi”. Surely ‘Hi’ is more common than “Ii”! I also found that the handset would randomly forget words that I had put into the dictionary.
The Z3 offers an easy setup window for configuring e-mail servers, and will use GPRS or EDGE data connectivity (where available) to download the messages. The e-mail section of the messaging application has the usual settings for a mobile e-mail client, including leaving the messages on the server, setting a size restriction to prevent high data costs, and so forth.
The numerical keys on the Z3 are just like the RAZR and other slim-line handsets from Motorola, and can be difficult to use at times. They require quite some force to push down but are adequately sized and have distinct separations from the other buttons around them.
The RIZR Z3 supports Bluetooth version 2.0 and USB version 2.0 for communication with compatible PC’s and laptops. For over-the-air connectivity, the Z3 supports the GPRS and EDGE 2G data protocols. The handset is also quad-band GSM capable for worldwide network connectivity.
Inside the sales package is a mini-USB data cable and the Motorola Phone Tools software suite for communicating with the handset. The Phone Tools software also supports connections via Bluetooth, but the USB data cable is much faster and will be the only option if your computer doesn’t have Bluetooth! The mini-USB port on the Z3 is on the right hand side, and is also used as the charging port for the handset.
The internal and microSD memory card memory can be accessed using the Motorola Phone Tools software. You can also make calls through the handset using your computer’s microphone and speakers instead of those on the actual handset. There is a messaging application for organising, reading, and storing SMS messages, and an MMS composer.
Bluetooth (and all other connectivity settings) can be configured via the “Connectivity” section of the settings menu. Turning on Bluetooth and setting up the device name is relatively straight forward, but connecting to non-audio devices is not. The handset has an “audio devices” section that is used to find and pair devices using supported Bluetooth audio profiles, but it will not pick up non-audio devices. There is no such area for connecting to non-audio devices, so I found the only way to do so was to initiate the connection from the non-audio device.
That said, if you just want to send a file directly to a non-audio device you can do so using the file browser. It has a “Send -> via Bluetooth” setting, which will scan for all non-audio devices in range and allow you to send the file to a device. If you select the send via Bluetooth option and Bluetooth is turned off the handset will ask if it is okay to turn the wireless protocol on for the duration of the file transfer.
Bluetooth imaging, printing, peer-to-peer gaming, and A2DP profiles are supported on top of the standard profiles. When Bluetooth is active and data is being transferred back and forward, a blue LED will light up above the display, just to the right of the Motorola logo.
GPRS Class 12 and EDGE Class 10 have provisions for speeds up to 48kbp/s and 236kbp/s respectively. In real life, the speeds will vary greatly according to a number of variables. GPRS and EDGE allow you to connect to the mobile web and download images, video, sounds, and text – as well as send MMS messages and download e-mail messages.
The Z3 weighs 111grams and measures 105 x 45 x 17mm. The body is made of soft-touch metal and the handset feels extremely solid in hand.
The battery and microSD memory card can only go in one way and are positioned perfectly. The SIM card is a little tricky to remove, and I found the easiest way was to remove the microSD card and then push it out from where the microSD card would usually sit.
The 780mAh battery pack should give 270 hours of standby time and 360 minutes of talk time out of one charge. These estimates were made with Bluetooth turned off.
During my time with the Z3 I could about 3 days of regular usage out of the handset before I needed to recharge. ‘Regular’ usage meant a few short calls a day, many SMS messages and a few MMS messages.
The battery of the Z3 is charged via the data/charging mini-USB port on the right hand side of the handset. A little green LED above the display lights up when the handset is charging, and when complete, the standby screen reads “Charging complete.”