The Modular Moto Z Range Has Arrived

The Modular Moto Z Range Has Arrived

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At the Lenovo Tech World 2016, Lenovo unveiled the second head turner of the day, the Moto Z and all of its brethren. Before we move on to the nitty-gritty about the devices, take a look at a quick spec sheet of the announced devices, below:

Moto ZMoto Z Force
Android Version6.0.1 Marshmallow6.0.1 Marshmallow
ChipsetSnapdragon 820 — 2.2 GHz Quad-core CPU, Adreno 530 GPUSnapdragon 820 — 2.2 GHz Quad-core CPU, Adreno 530 GPU
RAM4GB DDR44GB DDR4
Storage32/64GB UFS, microSD32/64GB UFS, microSD
Dimensions153.3 mm x 75.3 mm x 5.19 mm155.9 mm x 75.8 mm x 6.99 mm
Weight136 grams163 grams
Display5.5 inch 1440p AMOLED, 535 ppi5.5 inch 1440p AMOLED, 535 ppi
Battery2600 mAh3500 mAh
SensorsAccelerometer, Ambient Light, Fingerprint, Reader, Gyroscope, Hall Effect, Magnetometer, ProximityAccelerometer, Ambient Light, Fingerprint, Reader, Gyroscope, Hall Effect, Magnetometer, Proximity
ConnectivityUSB Type C
No 3mm Jack (USB Type C adapter included)
Bluetooth 4.1
NFC
2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi
USB Type C
No 3mm Jack (USB Type C adapter included)
Bluetooth 4.1
NFC
2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi
Rear Camera13MP, f/1.8 aperture, OIS, Laser AF, Zero Shutter Lag, CCT Dual LED flash, 1.12um pixel21MP, f/1.8 aperture, OIS, Laser AF, Phase Detection AF, Zero Shutter Lag, CCT Dual LED flash, 1.12um pixel DTI
Front Camera5MP f/2.2 aperture, Wide-Angle Lens, Flash, 1.4um pixel5MP f/2.2 aperture, Wide-Angle Lens, Flash, 1.4um pixel

Moto Z

The Moto Z is the successor to the traditional flagship lineup from Motorola, which was previously referred to as the Moto X series of phones. Lenovo’s decision to change the name up falls in line with their decision to change everything else up as well, as the Moto Z is something completely new off Lenovo’s Moto brand, different enough to deserve a distinct naming scheme.

Starting off, the Moto Z claims to be the world’s slimmest premium smartphone (premium being the important word there, as other midrange phones have achieved thinner). Although While, Lenovo did not share any exact measurements on stage, their specifications page lists the depth at 5.19mm. This is achieved at the cost of giving up other physical traits, which we will get to in a bit.

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If you do overlook the thinness of the device, you’ll see that the Moto Z sports a premium metallic construction with rounded corners. On the front of the device is the 5.5” QHD AMOLED display. Below the display, you will find the “moto” branding, along with the square fingerprint scanner. Above the display is the earpiece, which we suspect is the speaker as well as we could not locate the speaker elsewhere on the device. There’s also a 5MP front camera with wide-angle lens and an LED flash above the display.

On the back of the device, you will find the large and unmistakable camera setup. The Moto Z sports a 13MP rear camera with Laser Auto-focus, OIS and dual-tone LED flash. Judging by the most recent Moto line camera ventures, we can expect good results; The camera does protrude by a fair bit, which is a side effect of trimming the waistline. The bottom half of the Moto Z sports a 16-pin connection interface, which will be used for powering and interacting with the MotoMods.

On the bottom of the frame of the Moto Z is the USB Type C port. On the right side, you will find the volume rocker and the power button. On the top is the SIM tray slot, and on the bottom is the USB Type C slot. You will not find any 3.5mm headphone jack on the device because there is none — another of those side effects of making the phone this then. Thankfully, an adapter is included, which should aid in making your transition less painful.

On the inside of the Moto Z is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, coupled with the Adreno 530 GPU for powering that dense QHD display. You get 4GB of RAM, 32 or 64GB of expandable storage via a dedicated micro sd card slot. The phone runs on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, and with Motorola’s history, this should be a fairly untouched skin. All of this is powered by a measly 2600 mAh non-removable battery, becoming the worst aspect of a device with a 5.5” QHD display and the top-of-the-line SoC. But for Motorola, that is the plan, as this is where MotoMods comes in.

Moto Z Force

Before we move on to the MotoMods, Motorola also announced the Moto Z Force, a device that makes a lot more sense from a flagship perspective.
The Moto Z Force bumps up the thickness to 7mm from the vanilla Moto Z variant but still has a camera hump. The increase in dimension lets the Moto Z Force bear a larger 3500 mAh battery, although it still does not accommodate a headphone jack. The Moto Z Force also bumps up the display tech by bringing in the flagship feature of the Force line of smartphones — the ShatterShield display tech from Motorola. The camera also receives a bump up to 21MP and adds in PDAF to the existing package of OIS and Laser AF. Both devices have some aggressive fast charging as well.

MotoMods

The new Moto Z and Moto Z Force may seem a bit underwhelming on their own, since the competition does rack up against it. But this is the part where the rest of the family joins in, as the Moto Z and Moto Z Force make use of their 16-pin attachment interface to connect magnetically with MotoMods.

MotoMods are Motorola/Lenovo’s take on modularity and fix a few shortcomings of LG’s existing modular setup. With MotoMod, the modules connect completely externally, which means that you do not need to power down your device or remove the battery. You simply bring them together in the right orientation and the magnets will snap the Mod onto the back of the device.

Motorola showed off three MotoMods on stage:

The Moto Insta-Share Projector adds the abilities of a small projector to your device. The Mod has a built-in 1100mAh battery and a kickstand for angle adjustment. From the look of the Mod, it also has a speaker, although this was not explicitly mentioned on stage.

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The JBL SoundBoost Mod, as you’d expect, is a speaker with a built-in 1000mAh battery. The Mod also works as a speaker for phone call uses, and has a kickstand to prop up incase you want to use the 5.5” QHD AMOLED displays for videos too.

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The Incipio Off-Grid Power Pack is a battery pack that snaps onto your Moto Z. The Powerpack adds in 2200 mAh battery to your device, which you will more than likely need with the vanilla Moto Z variant. The Power Pack Mod will also be availble in a wireless charging option, and will have a couple of design options as well.

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The final Mod displayed on stage is the Style Mod. These mods are cosmetic only back-plates, with different options of fabric, wood and leather.

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Outside of these finished Mods, Motorola also promised more coming in the future (just like LG did). A few concepts were shown off, like the HyperCharge Mod (Fast Charging 3600 mAh battery pack), OneCompute Mod (Adds on I/O and PC peripheral connectivity) and SmartCast Mod (with multi screen I/O and Laser Keyboard). These are not finalized, and as such, should be treated as such.

Along with the Mods, Motorola also announced the MotoMod Developer Program. This is a platform through which Motorola will invite 3rd party Mod developers. There will be a “simple” certification process to become a part of this. The program will provide access to MDK when it becomes available. Lenovo also announced an Award scheme with prize upto 1 Million USD, although we recommend that all read the fine print for it. You can find more information on the MotoMod Developer Program over here: http://developer.motorola.com/

The US market will witness the Moto Z and the Moto Z Force as the Moto Z Droid Edition and the Moto Z Force Droid Edition. As expected from the branding addition, both of these will be Verizon exclusive and will launch in Summer of 2016. The unlocked variants of the device will launch in Fall of 2016. Global availability of the device is promised for September 2016, along with the MotoMods which will be available at the same time. No pricing details were revealed yet, and we suspect these to be revealed closer to their availability.


The Moto Z, the Moto Z Force and MotoMod family have certainly put out a good show. The execution of the modularity concept on smartphones feels much better and end-user friendly than on the LG G5 with its “friends”. The ability to simply hot-swap the modules just gives the Moto implementation a good headstart over the LG Friends.

With regards to the Moto Z itself, the device does feel a bit lacklustre for a flagship. Motorola went in for the premium audience with that device thickness, and in the end, sacrificed some practicality. Even though the Moto Z promises to be a flagship, it will lag behind when the next wave of 6GB-RAM totting flagships do roll in. Till then, we hope the device manages to convince the audience enough for a Moto Z2.

What are your thoughts on the Moto Z, the Moto Z Force, and the MotoMods? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!