Googles Project Ara seems to have inspired smartphone manufacturers to implement modular design in to their phones. The LG G5 was released a few months with some basic modular features, though reviews have been underwhelming. Now Motorola is getting into the game with the announcement of the Moto Z and Z Force smartphones.
These are not just gimmick phones, though; they pack flagship credentials. Both Z models share much of the same hardware. They both use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 SoC, with four custom Kryo CPU cores running at up to 2.15GHz and an Adreno 530 GPU, paired with 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM. Both models offer two storage options based on UFS 2.0 NAND, 32GB and 64GB, and support storage expansion with a microSD card. Pretty much a similar specification to current flagships.
The Moto Z uses a 13MP sensor with laser assisted autofocus paired with an f/1.8 lens and optical image stabilization (OIS) to help improve low-light performance.
The Moto Z Force will, unfortunately, be US only. It's a bit thicker (6.9mm) and heavier, but it also packs in a significantly larger battery (3,500mAh compared to the Z's 2,600mAh) and a more capable 21 megapixel camera with phase detection autofocus and Deep Trench Isolation (a technique Apple used for the iPhone 6S camera). The Moto Z Force's screen also uses Motorola's Shattershield technology, which it claims is more resistant to cracks and scratches than Corning's Gorilla Glass. The battery difference is the main loss here (as far as I am concerned).
You will get TurboPower fast-charging technology that supposedly provides up to 8 or 15 hours of battery life in just 15 minutes for the Moto Z and Moto Z Force, respectively.
Neither phone is waterproof, but there is a water-repellent nano coating that helps protect them from accidental spills or light rain.
Motorola has opted to eschew the 3.5mm socket in favour of just using USB-C, this is a great loss for myself personally. I destroy the cables on headphones for fun at the gym. The idea of breaking headphones using USB-C sounds expensive to replace, and even worse, what happens if you damage the USB-C socket!?
The stand out feature is the new modular design, which Motorala calls Moto Mods. These snap into place on the back of the phone using strong magnets.
Initially, there will be a range of real wood, leather, and fabric patterned decorative backplates that sit flush with the rear camera when snapped into place. There’s also the JBL SoundBoost speaker that adds two 27mm diameter, 3W speakers; a built-in kickstand for propping up the phone; and an additional 1000 mAh battery, along with the Moto Insta-Share Projector, which outputs a 854×480 WVGA image at 50 lumens nominal using DLP technology. Incipio’s Offgrid Power Pack adds a 2220 mAh battery and the option to add wireless charging support.
Due to the mods snapping on, the Motoralla phones will not require a reboot when you attach the mods, unlike the LG G5. This seems to be a big thing among a lot of users, but I don’t see why it was such a big deal with the G5.
Pricing hasn’t been announced, but the international version of the Moto Z should be available in September.