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Moto Z review: Motorola proves modular smartphones are the future of mobility

Florence Ion | July 22, 2016
Completely unadorned, Motorola's new flagship phone is a solid performer. But once you add in swappable modules, you can configure the smartphone of your dreams.

Now, about those Moto Mods

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Florence Ion

The Moto Mods include (clockwise from top left): Kate Spade Power Pack, JBL SoundBoost speaker, Insta-Share Projector, and Style Shell. 

My favorite parts of the Moto Z story are the Moto Mods, which are all sold separately (save the Style Shell, which comes with the phone). Each mod connects to the Moto Z with strong magnets and connector pins. No power-off/power-on routine is necessary, and the mods activate as soon as they latch on. 

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Florence Ion

The Moto Mods all connect easily with strong magnets and metal connectors. 

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Florence Ion

The pins are exposed on the back, but aren’t at any risk if you decide to leave the Moto Style Shell at home. 

For this review, I received the Moto Insta-Share Projector, JBL SoundBoost speaker, and Kate Spade Power Pack (there’s also a TUMI-branded Power Pack if you want a less feminine aesthetic). Each mod includes its own built-in battery—1100 mAh for the projector, 1000 mAh for the speaker, and an extra 2220 mAh battery for the Power Pack. What’s more, each battery-powered mod features its own status icon in the notifications shade. This way, you can see how much battery life you have between the Moto Z and its Moto Mod combined.

There’s also a Moto Style Shell inside the Moto Z’s retail box. Mods like the Insta-Share Projector and JBL SoundBoost definitely bulk up the phone, but they each come with their own carrying pouches so you can tow them along separately. 

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Florence Ion

The Insta-Share Projector turns your little phone into a full-fledged entertainment device. 

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Florence Ion

I was impressed with how big the projection could get while remaining visible. 

The Insta-Share projector was my favorite of all the mods. I thought it would be hokey, but it’s actually pretty neat. It can project up to 70 inches on any flat surface, and features a kickstand, a built-in fan for cooling down the projector, and the extra battery, which grants an estimated extra hour of screen time. Motorola has yet to share a price for the Insta-Share, but given its quality and convenience, it’s worth all the cost of a similarly spec’d pocket projector.

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Florence Ion

The Moto clipped on to the JBL SoundBooster. It gets really loud! 

 

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