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Moto Z: Is this the Droid you’ve been looking for?

Dan Rosenbaum | July 22, 2016
We review the Droid editions of the Moto Z and Moto Z Force, Motorola's latest high-end Android smartphones.

The Moto Z is not the first smartphone this year to have expansion modules (remember the LG G5?), but it is the first to get them right. You don't need to reboot to use the Moto Mods; the modules are aligned and held fast by magnets. Put a module into place, and the phone recognizes it and starts using it. There's a quick tutorial and basic settings you're guided through the first time you use a module, but that's it. It's crazy simple.

The power pack adds 2220mAh, almost doubling the phone's battery life; there will be a version of the power pack that provides for wireless charging as well (which was not provided for testing).

The JBL modules has two stereo speaker that put out 3W each -- the sound was not exactly hi-fi but way better than the internal speakers and more convenient than a Bluetooth speaker. The module is equipped with its own 1000mAh battery, which will drive the unit for about 10 hours.

Moto Z projector

The Insta-Share Projector, which clips magnetically onto the Moto Z, won't replace a full-size projector but is surprisingly useful.

The DLP video projector puts out 50 lumens and optimistically claims a 70-in. diagonal image size. It does automatic keystone correction, which is nice. It also has a 1000mAh battery, which will power the projector for about one hour. It won't replace a full-size projector, but it's actually surprisingly useful for something of its size.

The phones run a reasonably clean Android Marshmallow (6.0.1) with the generally useful Moto software expansions: voice control and gestures. As Verizon Wireless-branded phones, however, they also come with the usual Verizon bloatware and touts to extra-cost services: Audible, Caller Name ID, Verizon Cloud, Empire, Genie and Gems, Hotels.com, IMDB, Message+, NFL Mobile, Slacker Radio, Slotomania, VZ Navigator and VZ Protect.

Motorola's Moto Z smartphones will be available at Verizon on July 28. The Moto Z will cost $624; the Moto Z Force will cost $720. The phones are black with grey trim, black with rose gold trim, or gold with a white front lens. An unlocked GSM version - without the Droid name, which Verizon licenses -- is said to be available in a few months.

Bottom line

The Moto Z's are expensive, but not crazy expensive, and the add-ons are done right. This is a great Motorola phone. Just don't lose that headphone dongle.

At a Glance: Motorola

Price: Moto Z: $624 (vendor price); Moto Z Force: $720 (vendor price)

Pros: Excellent build quality; fine processing power and speed; innovative add-ons

Cons: No headphone jack; Moto Z too thin for sure handling; lackluster camera controls

 

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