Motorola Moto Z Initial Review: Modularity Done Right

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Modularity in phones has long been a pipe dream for many people and manufacturers. And why wouldn’t it be – the allure of simply swapping parts to make your phone do specialist stuff is a great idea. And while LG may have been the first company to take a stab at the whole swappable module thing, it’s Lenovo subsidiary Motorola that managed to take the concept and elevate it to something that anybody can use.

Motorola Moto Z specs:

  • Quad-core Snapdragon 820 processor
  • Adreno 530 GPU
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 5.5-inch AMOLED display, Corning Gorilla Glass 4, 2560 x 1440 resolution
  • 64GB of expandable storage
  • 13-megapixel rear camera, f/1.8 aperture lens with laser AF, OIS, dual LED flash
  • 5-megapixel front camera with flash, f/2.2 aperture lens
  • Dual SIM
  • 3G, LTE
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS, USB Type-C
  • 2600mAh battery
  • Android 6 Marshmallow

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Initial impressions: Incredibly thin, and the mods are super easy to put on

The Moto Z was launched to great acclaim a few months ago, and now that we’re holding it in our hands, it’s not hard to see why. The phone is incredibly thin, coming in at just 5.2mm at its thickest point. The phone feels incredibly solid in our hands, owing to its full metal construction.

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The front of the phone is all glass, dominated by the 5.5-inch, QHD (1440 x 2560) resolution, AMOLED display. Right below that display is a fingerprint scanner that we mistook for the home button numerous times, which was mildly annoying. There’s no physical navigation keys at all – you’ll have to contend with the on-screen navigation keys located at the bottom of the display. Moving on, you’ll see the selfie flash located on the upper right side, while the 5-megapixel, f/2.2 aperture selfie cam resides on the upper left side of the phone.

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Moving around the frame of the phone, you’ll see the power and volume rockers on the left side of the phone, while the SIM/microSD slot is located on the top. The USB Type-C port is located on the bottom. The Moto Z doesn’t use a 3.5mm jack, proving that Motorola took the “couragous” step of removing that particular port a few months ahead of Apple. Motorola chucks in a USB Type-C to 3.5mm jack adapter in the box so you can use your old cans with the phone as well.

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Flip the phone over on its back and you’ll see the round, raised camera module which also houses the dual LED flash, that houses the 13-megapixel rear camera with an f/1.8 aperture lens AF and OIS. While the size of the module is a little excessive, it serves as an anchor point for the Moto Mods that attaches on the rear. A series of pins located on the bottom of the phone also serves as the locating hole for the mods.

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As for the mods itself, they snap quickly on the back of the phone via magnets, assisted by the huge camera module. Once on the phone the mods take a deliberate effort to remove, which is good since you don’t want those things coming apart while you’re using them. Motorola is launching a couple of the mods along with the phone, including the JBL Soundboost speaker, Incipio OffGrid 2200mAh power pack, Moto Insta-Share projector and the Hassleblad True Zoom module. If you don’t feel like putting mods on, you can just slap in a cover that makes the entire back flat.

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The display looks great, and looks the part of a AMOLED panel. Colors are rich and vivid, and viewing angle are generous as well. The display is superb, and thanks to the QHD resolution of the phone, text are razor sharp on the display as well. Motorola’s always-on display feature also makes an apperance on the Moto Z.

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Powering the phone is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 processor, paired with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. Performance is superb – the phone feels snappy and fast, with zero lag whatsoever. It’s one of the fastest processors available to mobile devices today (with the exception of the Snapdragon 821) which virtually guarantees smooth operation for the next few months (even years).

The Moto Z also has Android Marshmallow on board, and we’re loving the fact that Motorola decided to go with a mainly stock build of Android on the Moto Z.

That’s pretty much it for this hands-on. We’re going to be reviewing the Moto Z along with Motorola’s mods in the next few weeks, so stand by until then.

The Motorola Moto Z is priced at Php 33,999.

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