Various companies have tried the modular trick for their smartphones in the past. While have some have been moderately successful, others have abandoned the thought after years of research. Lenovo launched the Moto Z and the Moto Mods at a global launch event in San Francisco a few months ago, and we got the review units a couple of weeks ago for a test drive.
One look at the device and you realise the kind of research that went into creating the Moto Z and the accompanying Mods. The Moto Z is one of the thinnest premium Android phones we have seen in a while. At just 5.2mm in thickness, the Moto Z feels incredibly thin to hold. The entire phone is made from military aircraft-grade aluminum and stainless steel.
The Moto Z just oozes style from all angles. On the front of the device, you will find a 5.5-inch Quad HD AMOLED display, which is quite crisp and delicious to look at. Colours just pop out of the screen and it provides great viewing angles, even under bright sunlight. The phone uses USB Type-C to charge and sync the data and oh, it does not come with a 3.5mm audio jack. Instead, Lenovo packs in a USB Type-C to 3.55mm dongle along with the device.
Under the hood, the Moto Z comes packed with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, with 4GB of RAM. Internal storage is offered in two variants – 32 GB or 64 GB. In addition, the phone can let you expand the internal storage by up to 2 TB, through use of a micro SD card.
In terms of imaging, the Moto Z accompanies a 13MP camera on the back with optical image stabilization and laser autofocus. There is also a 5MP front-facing camera that features a wide-angle lens, for snap up all the selfies to your heart’s content. The front camera also features a flash module of its own, to ensure you end up with superb selfies even in low light.
The stand out feature of the Moto Z is of course the Moto Mods and the customisation on this one is not about how the phone looks like after you snap the Mods on, but what your phone can do. There are four Moto Mods available on the market and we received three of those for review along with the Moto Z.
While one Mod can give your phone a meatier battery, another can turn it into a boombox for your weekend getaway. With another you could transform your Moto Z into a video projector, while another will give you a Hasselblad True Zoom camera right on your phone.
Once you snap the Moto Mods on, you do see a layer of bulk on the phone’s back. And these Mods are not cheap. But Motorola’s magnetic approach on the modular ecosystem is much better and simpler than those attempted by other brands to make the modular ecosystem happen.
The JBL SoundBoost Moto Mod lets you enjoy your music in style by giving the Moto Z a boost with powerful stereo sound. The Mod also comes with a built-in kickstand that lets you rest the smartphone on a flat area to enjoy videos on the smartphone. The JBL SoundBoost also offers an extra 10 hours of battery life – so you don’t have to worry about running out of battery life on the Moto Z. The JBL SoundBoost Mod was quite loud and clear when it came to audio performance.
The Moto Insta-Share Projector Mod snaps onto the Moto Z, thus allowing you to project photos and videos onto a flat surface in big screen mode. The Mod projects up to 70-inches in display size and comes with built-in battery that provides users with up to one extra hour of screen time before using the Moto Z’s battery.
And our favourite was the Hasselblad True Zoom Mod, which attempts to completely transform mobile photography, and succeeds in a few areas, in doing so. The Mod adds advanced imaging capabilities to the Moto Z – it features 10x Optical Zoom and a Xenon flash, and allows you to shoot in RAW format. The Mod also offers you physical shutter and zoom controls. Images and videos shot using this Mod were quite good even under low light conditions.
The Moto Z also comes with water-repellant coating, which shields the phone from rain, splashes or spills that might come in its way. In terms of performance, the device’s 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 820 processor works smoothly and swiftly. The camera launches quickly whenever I flicked my wrist. I could also swipe fluidly from one home page to another and my fingerprint unlocked the phone almost immediately.
On the whole, the Moto Z is a reliable and powerful device that can stand up to most of the top-of-the-line phones. In terms of modular ecosystem, the Moto Z is the best phone we have seen on the market yet. It thus wins Review Central’s Editors’ Choice award for the modular smartphone category.
Moto Z (with JBL SoundBoost Mod and Moto Style Shell): AED 2599
Moto Insta-Share Projector Mod: AED 1,299
JBL SoundBoost Mod: AED 399
Hasselblad True Zoom Mod: AED 999