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Motorola: Other modular phones have 'completely failed'

Derek Walter | June 10, 2016
Moto executives proclaimed the Moto Z to be metaphysical perfection, while promising modules will be forward compatible.

Moto executives went to great lengths to stress just how revolutionary they think the Moto Z line and its snap-on modules are during a Q&A session at Lenovo TechWorld on Thursday.

The point was made most directly by Iqbal Arshad, senior vice president of engineering and global product design, when he emphasized the Moto Z, “is as good a phone as we’ve ever produced. It’s really, really, really easy to say what I just said. It’s really, really, really hard to do with a design like this.”

He and other Moto leaders described the way the company re-engineered the antenna design, opted to kill off the headphone jack, and sought to design a modular phone that stuck to a predetermined aesthetic as much as possible.

Along with Arshad, the panel included Jim Wicks, senior vice president of consumer experience design; Seang Chau, senior vice president of software engineering; and Ruben Castano, vice president of consumer experience design. Rounding out the panel was Jeff Dietel, vice president of marketing for Verizon Wireless.

Other modular phones have ‘completely failed’

While Arshad didn’t name any direct competitors, there was a glimmer of shade thrown at LG, who also debuted a modular phone earlier this year with the LG G5. Arshad described the Moto Z as a substantial design departure from phones that create awkward angles and holding situations when snapped together with their modules.

lg g5 three chins 
Motorola thinks LG’s modular system is clunky and awkward. Credit: Dan Masaoka

“We wanted it to be thin enough so when you put the module on there, so it feels like one phone,” he said. “This device is extremely thin at less than 5.2 millimeters. Everything else out there similar has completely failed.” 

Thinking forward

The team also ensured attendees, primarily media and analysts, that the modules would be forward compatible with future phones. No one would commit to how far into the future that would extend, but at the very least a new Moto Z that will surely come in 2017 shouldn’t render your current add-ons useless, according to Wicks.

“We designed it to be forward compatible, so if you buy modules for this one and next year bought a new modular device, they would work on that,” said Chau. “It was part of our thinking that when you put a module on there it should feel like one phone, with that idea extending to the future.” 

moto z motomods 
Buy a Moto Mod today and it should, at the very least, work with next year’s Moto Z. Credit: @evleaks

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