Moto Z2 Force & Moto Mods
This is a unique tariff for the UK market where you simply pay up to £1 on any day you choose, then the rest of that day is entirely free.
When you reach £1, enjoy free unlimited minutes and texts, plus 500MB of data, for the rest of that day. But if you don’t use your phone that day, you don’t pay a penny – perfect for people trying to watch their phone bills. The Pay as you go 1 tariff is available on any Pay as you go device on the Vodafone Network.
As someone that works from home and is connected to Wi-Fi 90% of the time a tariff like this has the potential to save a lot of money over other PAYG sims or even a contract. I could potentially pay nothing most days then the occasional day out just pay £1.
Moving on to the phone itself, in a world of generic designs Motorola has done something unique to stand out from the crowd. The basic design itself is nothing special; it is a big black phone, perhaps the most noticeable thing about it is the finger sensor on the front of the phone rather than the back. This is my personal preference but others like it on the back.
What is unique about it is the ability to modify it with Moto mods, that clip onto the back with some strong magnets. The list of mods includes a 3490 mAh battery pack, Hasselblad TrueZoom Camera, a gamepad, Instaprint polaroid, JBL speaker, Alexa mod, a 30-degree camera and a projector.
This is the top of the range model, and the specifications are as impressive as you would expect from a flagship although ignoring the Mod nothing, in particular, makes it stand out as being better than other phones. With it being launched in 2017 the SoC is a Snapdragon 835 which may reduce its appeal with the announcement of several new Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 based phones.
The specification includes:
|Operating System||Android 8.0 Oreo|
|Display||5.5-inch 1440p Super AMOLED
ShatterShield shatterproof display
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 octa-core|
|Expandable||up to 2TB|
15W TurboPower fast charging
|Water resistance||Water-repellent nano-coating
|Rear Camera 1||12MP (1.25µm pixels) color sensor
|Rear Camera 2||12MP (1.25µm pixels) monochrome sensor
|Front Camera||5MP f/2.2
85-degree wide-angle lens
Front-facing dual-tone flash
|Connectivity||Gigabit LTE (X16 baseband)
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac dual-band
Bluetooth 5.0 (after Android O update)
Moto Mods support
|Security||One-touch front fingerprint sensor|
|Dimensions||155.8 x 76 x 6.1 mm|
Lunar Grey (T-Mobile-only)
Build & Software
The phone is made out of 7000 series aluminium which gives it a very durable feel and is one of the selling points Motorola highlights. The basic phone itself it just 6.1mm thick making it one of the thinnest phones I have ever reviewed.
Without a mod, you get a basic plastic back attached to the phone, and I found the magnets didn’t feel that strong when connected, plus it looks like it doesn’t fit quite flush with the phone.
Motorola has opted to go with an almost pure Android experience, I don’t think it is signed up to Android One, but it is nearly as good. My review sample still had Android 7.1 one installed, but it immediately received multiple updates taking it to 8.0 Oreo.
The additional features Motorola have added include Moto Actions, a series of gestures designed to make it easier to control the phone, and Moto Display notifications. With Moto Display, the screen lights up every time you get a notification, and you get the option to select what apps show up and use quick replies without ever having to unlock the device.
The phone intermittently switches on the screen when you get a notification rather than using LEDs. When it does flash up, you can optionally peak at the notification, dismiss it or unlock your phone to go into it. I found this a great feature, and you can customise what apps access it, so you don’t get harassed too much.
One feature I was less fond of was the motion activation, which turns on every time it senses motion via its infrared sensors. Its great in theory but I found that the phone would flash up the display intermittently all the time when on a table, making me think I have a notification. It is easy enough to switch off though.
The display itself is good but not exceptional, you get minimal bezels to the side but quite chunky one’s top and bottom which in turn gives you a 16:9 format versus the now ubiquitous 18:9 format found on many bezel-free phones such as the Galaxy S8/S9 and Pixel 2 XL.
It is claimed that both the screen and phone itself are exceptionally durable, with the screen having multiple layers designed not to shatter. Motorola guarantees it won’t crack for up to four years; however, it’s not scratch-proof and during my loan, it actually developed quite a few surface scratches which is quite worrisome. In comparison, my Blackberry is 6+ months old and does not have a single mark on the screen. So if you plan to buy this phone it is absolutely essential to use some sort of screen protector.
The unmodified version of Android along with the Snapdragon 835 means that everything on this phone runs butter smooth, I never experience any lag and it was a pleasure to use.
I have read some mixed reviews of the camera quality online, but I found it to be perfectly acceptable. The camera software is easy to use, and I got decent quality shots. It is a vast improvement to my Blackberry Keyone, but it won’t compete with the Pixel 2 or Galaxy S9.
Going to MWC, I knew I would be hammering my phone, so I bought the battery pack to test out too I I think reviewing the phone without trying a mod would be a bit pointless. The battery adds some heft to the phone, but I found it perfectly manageable. It comfortably fit into slim jeans or a pair of trousers nor was it unusually heavy. It helps that the base phone is incredibly thin at just 6.1mm. The battery appears to sit more comfortably on the phone than the plastic back, and it takes quite a bit of effort to remove it, so you are not going to snap it off by mistake.
The battery pack works in a similar manner to a standard external battery but with a bit more intelligence. The Motorola software detects the mod, and you have an option to charge up the main battery to 100% all the time or to maintain it at 80% which is supposed to make it last longer.
During my heavy use the phone would comfortable last a full day, and that is taking 100+ photos a day as well as browsing, and messaging. It was fantastic and not having to mess around with external battery packs makes the day much easier. The battery pack is available for £55 which makes it the cheapest Moto Mod available and I would highly recommend it.
On the flip side, I am not 100% sure about the other mods. I briefly tried the Hasselblad TrueZoom camera at the Motorola stand, and it was a good mod allowing you to take superior pictures and have 10x optical zoom. The problem with it is that it costs nearly £200 and uses up the battery, so when you are back down to a 2,730mAh battery, you are not going to get a lot of usage out of it.
The other mods have similar issues, they all cost quite a lot of money, and they offer some questionable functionality. The Insta Share Projector costs £250 for example and is going to have some very niche uses. The booth guy did explain that it is useful for presentations, and I can see what he means. I suppose the important thing is that you have a choice to modify your phone, and no other phone does that.
For myself, the only other mod I would be tempted with is the Moto Gamepad which is priced at £75 and effectively turns your phone into a portable console, with a similar layout to the PlayStation Vita.
Depending on what you want from a phone this could be amazing or meh. I absolutely loved using the phone with the battery pack; it made my day so much easier not having to worry about charging it every chance I get. It is always a pleasure to use Android that has not been heavily modified and getting regular updates is a major plus.
However, for others, it won’t be perfect, it has a somewhat old-fashioned screen format, there is no 3.5mm headphone jack. The screen is very prone to scratching due to the layering applied to it to stop is breaking. Most of the mods are expensive and offer questionable functionality. It is also not particularly cheap with it being sold for around £700 online, but is much more reasonable with the below contract.
Vodafone doesn’t have this sim free, so you can’t technically use it on the aforementioned PAYG 1 Sim unless you buy it from a 3rd party. The best offers they do is for £39PCM with 16GB of data and no upfront cost making the total cost £936 which makes it one the best deals for a flagship phone on the Vodafone site. Vodafone also currently have an offer where you get the Moto Gamepad, the Moto TurboPower pack and the JBL SoundBoost2 Mods for free which does make it quite a very compelling purchase.
I like to think my monthly phone contract is £15 max which would equal £360 over 2 years so for me the actual cost of the phone would be £576 + the free mods.
Moto Z2 Force & Moto Mods