We’ve just about reached peak smartphone. Every premium handset out there is incredibly powerful, has a beautiful display and a pretty solid camera. So where do we go from here? If you’re Lenovo, you let the customer decide. That’s the idea behind the company’s new Moto Z and Moto Z Force.
Available for Verizon, the Moto Z Droid Edition and Moto Z Force Droid Edition, which cost $624 and $720, respectively, are part of a new crop of pseudo-customizable handsets called modular phones. The idea is to let you add features to your phone by snapping on special attachments.
So rather than just being your “Pokémon Go” machine, the Moto Z can double as a mini projector or a high-performance speaker. It’s some impressive technology, but it’s also rather pricey.
Slim and stylish
Let’s talk about the phones first, though, shall we? The Moto Z and Moto Z Force are largely the same smartphone. They have the same styling, the same size and type of screen and support the company’s Moto mods.
But there are subtle differences between the two that account for their $100 price difference. The Moto Z Force is both thicker and heavier than the Moto Z thanks to its larger battery. The Z Force also gets a 21-megapixel camera, while the standard Z gets a 13-megapixel shooter. On top of that, the Z Force comes with Motorola’s ShatterShield display, which helps prevents it from breaking when you drop it.
The Moto Z, for its part, is stunningly thin. At just 0.20 inches, the Moto Z is thinner than both Apple’s iPhone 6s (0.28 inches) and Samsung’s Galaxy S7 (0.31 inches). The Moto Z Force is 0.28 inches thick. The Z is so thin you’d think it’d feel flimsy, but thanks to its aluminum and steel body, it’s surprisingly rigid.
Unlike the Galaxy S7 and iPhone 6s, the Moto Z and Z Force don’t have physical home buttons. Instead, they use digital home, back, and recent apps buttons. The phones’ fingerprint sensors are just that and nothing more. But they really look like they should be home buttons. So as a result, I kept pressing them without even thinking. Call it force of habit.
Probably the most significant design feature of the Moto Z and Moto Z Force is what they’re missing: headphone jacks. Yes, the lowly 3.5mm port is going to that big tech dump in the sky. Taking its place is the new hot port on the block: USB-C.
You’ve probably heard rumblings that Apple is considering ditching the 3.5mm jack for the iPhone 7 and will instead offer headphones that connect to the phone’s Lighting port.
In the case of the Moto Z and Z Force, you’ll have to either buy a pair of headphones that support USB-C, or use the phones’ included USB-C to 3.5mm converters. Why bother killing the 3.5mm jack if Motorola included a converter cable anyway? Because by doing so, the company was able to trim the Moto Z’s thickness enough to make it one of the thinnest phones on the planet.
Modulating your Moto
Motorola’s first major smartphones to hit the market since being purchased by Lenovo, the Moto Z and Moto Z Force are an attempt to give users more control over their handsets by letting them augment them as they see fit with what the company calls “Moto Mods.