Lenovo’s first new smartphones under the Moto series certainly catch the eye. Even if the modular capabilities of the Moto Mods didn’t exist, these are by far the best-looking smartphones Lenovo has ever come out with.
The two new smartphones, the Moto Z and Moto Z Force, are virtually identical in shape and design language, with the only exceptions being some hardware aspects (such as the camera sensor and battery size). The most obvious difference, of course, lies in their thickness – or rather, thinness.
At just 5.2mm thin, the Moto Z feels strikingly thin in the hands. It’s almost flimsy in feeling despite having an all-metal body. That said, the textured sides give good grip, but it will likely be too thinfor some people.
That’s where the Moto Z Force comes in. This is what should be deemed the “big brother” among the two, simply due to the better hardware and shatterproof display; for just an extra 1.8mm (the Z Force measures 7mm thin), I’d wager that as perfectly acceptable.
What may not be acceptable is the fact that both these devices do not have a 3.5mm audio jack. Instead, Lenovo ships both devices with a USB Type C adapter for the times you want to use your earphones.
On top of that, there is a very noticeable camera bump on both the Z and Z Force – and truth be told, they’re really unsightly. Add to that the fact that the all-metal back is exceptionally prone to fingerprints, and you’ve got quite a high maintenance phone.
However, that’s half the story. Both smartphones ship with stock Android, and the aforementioned cameras are supposedly the best Lenovo/Motorola’s ever created, with OIS and laser autofocus. The hardware is top notch with Snapdragon 820 and 4GB RAM on both phones, and the QHD displays are what you’d expect from a premium device.
That said, one concern that we can’t test is the relatively tiny 2,600mAh battery on the Moto Z. With a power-hungry QHD display to run, there’s a strong chance it may be similar to the Samsung Galaxy S6, which had a similarly small battery and sharp QHD display, resulting in pretty poor battery life.
Crucially, the differentiating factor lies near the bottom: those exposed 16 golden pins hold the weight of Lenovo’s pursuit of mobile market share. These pins connect to the Moto Mods, a range of “semi-permanent” back covers that snap into place (with the help of four magnets around the back), instantly giving them an additional feature.
Currently, there will be three Moto Mods that Lenovo will make available when the two phones launch later this year. The first is an easy one: a power pack case with an additional 2,200mAh battery with designs from Lenovo’s partners such as Kate Spade and Tumi. The other two are fairly more interesting: a portable speaker called the JBL SoundBoom, and a pico projector called the Moto Insta-Share Projector.
Alongside these three will be a “style” cover that ships with each Moto Z or Z Force. Using a variety of materials, ranging from leather, bamboo, ballistic nylon, and even cork, they snap into place and do not dislodge. They also have the side effect of removing that unsightly camera bulge; one suspects this was done intentionally, and that these covers are meant to be used when the user isn’t using a Moto Mod.
There are bound to be more Mods on the way (and the company even teased an “imaging related Mod” coming later this year), but for now the company is only offering three at launch, with the promise of much more from the Moto Mods Platform.
Lenovo is firmly committed to the Moto Mods project. The company promises that the Mods that are released for the Moto Z and Z Force today will be compatible with future iterations of the device, while future Mods will also retain the same dimensions for the foreseeable future. This will mean that these Mods will be both future and backwards compatible with Moto Z smartphones.
With the acquisition of Motorola, Lenovo’s smartphone business suddenly looks robust. The Moto Z and Z Force made plenty of people stand up and take notice; Motorola always had the talent, and now it has the financial and marketing clout to make a huge statement alongside its parent company.
Moto Z & Moto Z Force