Motorola been through a lot of changes corporate level wise. This resulted in a bounce of manufacturers for creating the smartphones under the Motorola brand. Initially Motorola crafted them then Google and now Lenovo.
The new Moto Z made by Lenovo brings in a new feature, clip-on modules, also known as Moto Mods. This means we can attach certain add-ons via magnets located on the back of the device. Optical zoom cameras, projectors, speakers, bigger batteries and more.
Lenovo always has pushing larger displays on their devices. Good thing that most competitors went with the 5.5 inch screens so Moto Z fits right in. When we saw the specifications, couldn’t really believe it comes with a Quad HD resolution. It packs 535ppi in2560x1440 right along the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge or Google Pixel XL.
Having an AMOLED panel delivers true black and natural colors among two ways of screen mode, standard and vibrant. The vibrant setting will make white a little brighter than normal so colors will pop. In addition, we get great angles which makes viewing movies or photos in group of people a pleasant experience.
One downside regarding the display is the auto-brightness adjustment, which seems a bit too sensitive. It was changing the brightness levels even though the lightning setup was the same.
It’s thin, really thin. Maybe too much so, edges seem a bit too sharp when held in your palm. It weighs 136g but has a premium strong feeling to it because of the aircraft-grade aluminum frame. As a comparison iPhone 7 is 7.1mm, Samsung Galaxy S7 edge is 7.7mm and Moto Z is only 5.19mm. A reasoning behind why is it so thin is most likely to reduce the bulk aspect when we add modules to it.
However we can attach a back cover which makes the phone feel normal and way more comfortable. Furthermore it will be magnet for finger prints on the rear plus the ugly magnetic pins will show without a cover.
The fingerprint sensor is on the front therefore unlocking while on a table is easier. Besides the fingerprint scanner we can access time and date only by waving our hand above the phone. Equally important we have USB Type-C port on the bottom, SIM tray on top and sadly no 3.5mm headphone jack. We do get a USB to headphone jack adaptor in the box.
The display has sharp edges and no curves falling off in the beauty department compared to Samsung Galaxy S7.
We disliked the white front variant of the device. Due to the amount of sensors on the front the white look like it has holes in it. We strongly recommend a black version.
Moto Z Modules
Let’s start with the Hasselblad True Zoom. This extension actively transforms your smartphone into an above average full-fledged camera. Of course it can never replace proper DSLR cameras but it does offer a 10x optical zoom and good quality pictures even in low light. We have access to HDR as well.
Insta-Share Projector is another module that we find interesting. We were skeptical of the projected image quality, glad we were, it left us totally impressed. The projector has 1100 mAh battery and can be charged separately. Play time on its standalone power is around one hour after that it uses the phone’s battery. It can project a diagonal of 40 inch or more but the more we go the less brightness we have.
Worth mentioning is the JBL SoundBooster Speaker and the Incipio offGRID Power Pack. The speaker is not as loud as an external Bluetooth speaker but quality wise it’s great. Coupled with 1000 mAh battery we get around 10+ hours of audio playback. While the Power Pack adds up to 22 hours to the battery life and 6.2mm more thickness.
As we mentioned before it has a wonderful QHD AMOLED screen as good as Samsung Galaxy S7 but to our surprise no VR support. Although a feature we liked is Moto Active, which shows discrete notifications that we can tap on that save a lot of energy. Under the hood, there is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, 4 GB of RAM and an Adreno 530 GPU. In addition, 32 GB internal storage and up to a theoretical 2 TB of microSD storage.
The rear camera is 13 Megapixels and includes optical image stabilization and laser autofocus. While the front one is 5 Megapixels that does really well in low light accompanied with a LED flash, rather excellent for selfies.
Even with the optical image stabilization and zero shutter lag, photos during low light and subject in a movement state, result in a blurry picture.
Its default camera software is an improvement from previous models, containing more Panorama, Video and Slow motion filters. Slow motion goes up to 120 FPS with a 720p resolution while the 4k UHD is shot at 30 fps and the full HD of 1080p at 60 fps.
Sad news here, Moto Z battery life barely holds for 1 day. The slim design only had room for a 2600 mAh accumulator which just isn’t enough for the vast applications and connectivity of current smartphones. An argument is that we can modulate and get the extra battery or just turbo charge it. Another down side is turbo charging is not as fast as other brands. Fully charging took around 70 minutes. Still decent though.
Originally is was priced at £529.99 back in June 2016 which was a tiny amount more expensive then LG G5 and Huawei P9. Now it’s around £400, a good deal for such a new creative design, concept and performance.
The Lenovo Moto Z is clearly unique at the moment with a few good and bad aspects. If you are into the modular phone concept and like the idea to carry with you said modules, then it is a solid choice.