Moto Z Droid, Moto Z Force Droid, and Moto Mods hands-on: coming soon to Verizon

The year's hottest new smartphone trend may just be modular design, letting users add functionality to their phone by swapping in and out extra hardware. LG got the ball rolling with the G5, but limited availability of its so-called “LG Friends” has managed to take the wind out of those sails a little. And while we look forward to seeing what Google manages to deliver in terms of its modular Project Ara phone a little later this year, right now the most promising names in modular phone hardware are Lenovo and Motorola, with last month's launch of the Moto Z, Moto Z Force, and the Moto Mods platform.

We've already brought you hands-on looks at the super-thin Moto Z, the Moto Z Force with its shatterproof screen, and Moto Mods add-ons like the Moto Insta-Share Projector and the JBL SoundBoost Speaker, back when the hardware was first announced. But now we're coming up on time for the Moto Z family to finally get ready for its retail release, where here in the States we'll see the phones arrive as the Moto Z Droid and Moto Z Force Droid for Verizon.

As Verizon gets ready to share its release plans for the new Motos, we checked back in with the handsets as they'll be landing at the carrier, getting another up-close look at both well-equipped Androids, as well as the family of Moto Mods accessories that will accompany them.

Moto Z Droid and Moto Z Force Droid

As you may recall, Motorola's managed to cram a lot of phone into one insanely thin package for the Moto Z Droid, squeezing a top-of-the-line Snapdragon 820 processor, big 4GB of RAM, 5.5-inch 1440 x 2560 AMOLED display, and 2,600mAh battery into a body that measures under 5.2mm thick.

The Moto Z Force Droid starts with the same basic hardware and adds a few upgrades. While it's got the same 5.5-inch quad-HD display, Motorola blesses that screen with the same ultra-durable ShatterShield construction as last year's Droid Turbo 2.

We also get a camera upgrade: while the Moto Z Droid offers a very respectable 13MP main camera with optical image stabilization and laser-assisted auto-focus, the Moto Z Force Droid bumps that up to a 21MP shooter while adding phase-detection auto-focus for even faster subject acquisition (both models feature 5MP front-facers).

There is one big trade-off with the Moto Z Force Droid, as it's not quite so super-thin, coming in a hair under 7mm thick. That space doesn't go to waste, though, as Motorola upgrades the phone's battery to a 3,500mAh component.

Both handsets provide fingerprint scanners, USB Type-C interfaces, and the sort of polish we'd expect from a manufacturer's annual flagship model – and that's saying something, with Motorola managing to keep the Moto Z Droid feeling solid even with its incredibly thin frame. But the phones themselves are only half the story here, and we came to see what the Moto Mods can do.

Moto Insta-Share Projector

If you want to really impress someone with a demo of what's possible with modular smartphones, look no further than the Moto Insta-Share Projector. The 11mm-thick pico projector easily snaps right on the back of the Moto Z Droid or Moto Z Force Droid with the help of some impressively strong magnets, solidly holding the projector in place as the phone's software recognizes the Moto Mod and gets ready to share its screen with it.

The projector's 50-lumen output may struggle to be seen on a bright day or in well-lit indoor environments, but pull down the shades, or wait until the sun dips under the horizon, and you've got a portable movie theater, all ready to go.

Maybe the most impressive thing about the Moto Insta-Share Projector is the way it's able to automatically adjust its output for the screen (or wall, or sheet, or whatever) it's being displayed on, correcting keystone and focus on the fly – and you can always manually tweak both of those in a pinch. Its internal 1,100mAh battery should be sufficient for an hour or so of playback, and it can always tap into the connected phone's battery for a little extra juice.

JBL SoundBoost Speaker

Speakers may not sound as fancy as a portable projector, but they're arguably a lot more useful. The 13mm-thick unit pops on the back of either Moto Z Droid phone and offers a pair of 3-Watt stereo channels to pump out your favorite tracks. Its 1,000mAh internal battery is good for around 10 hours of playback (at conservative volume levels), and its built-in kickstand lets you prop up the phone for some tabletop audio or video action.

Power Pack

You may have attempted to extend your phone's battery life with a case that included its own external battery, but the various Power Pack Moto Mods give users the same access to extra charge while maintaining a purpose-made, premium look.

Options like the Incipio offGRID, Tumi, and even a designer kate spade Power Pack are on the way, each delivering extra juice (2,200mAh in the case of the Incipio unit, good for up to 22 hours of additional phone life) to keep you operating throughout even the longest day – and into the next. Select models will also support wireless charging, for keeping them full of power when you need it.

Moto Style Shell

Not every Moto Mod is about extra functionality, and sometimes you just want to switch-up your phone's tired old look. That's just what the various Style Shell options are for, letting users easily pop protective and stylish new back panels on their Moto Z Droid phones with the help of the same strong magnets that hold even the bulkier Moto Mods in place.

More than offering a variety of colors, Style Shell options include a variety of material selections as well, including wood and some interesting textured backs. And measuring only 2mm thick, you can slap one on your Moto Z Droid without drastically changing the feel of your handset.

Stay tuned for Verizon to reveal all the details of its Moto Z Droid and Moto Z Force Droid retail launch, including pricing and availability specifics.

Related phones

Moto Z Force Droid Edition
  • Display 5.5" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 21 MP / 5 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, Quad-core, 2200 MHz
  • Storage 64GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3500 mAh
Moto Z Droid Edition
  • Display 5.5" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 13 MP / 5 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, Quad-core, 2200 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 2600 mAh



1. zeeBomb

Posts: 2318; Member since: Aug 14, 2014

Moto Z >>>>>> LG G5

8. sgodsell

Posts: 7605; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

The LG G5 is a good phone as well. It's module design means users have to reboot everytime. Whereas the Moto Z's do not. Users will be able to install a new modules live without rebooting the phone. That is why they made the Moto Z so thin. The G5 has a removable battery, which is always nice to have, and even better if you have two batteries. In any case I hope to get the new Moto Z and some of those mods. I also hope the new Moto Z will support USB 3.0 or 3.1 transfer speeds.

2. Babadook

Posts: 230; Member since: May 24, 2016

The only thing holding me back is how the screen preforms. I'm coming from the Moto X 2014 which had TERRIBLE maximum brightness (and minimum). I'm hoping it's far superior on the Moto Z Force.

3. EC112987

Posts: 1216; Member since: Nov 10, 2014

Terrible? Only issues with the moto x were the battery and the heating issues. Screen was amazing

5. zunaidahmed

Posts: 1186; Member since: Dec 24, 2011

Not amazing, just very average, some might say peak brightness is a bit low, but 350-400nits is ok I guess

11. Babadook

Posts: 230; Member since: May 24, 2016

(​ew_id3965) - Go here and scroll down to the brightness chart and add the Moto X 2014. Maybe the comparisons aren't fair since the phones are newer, but the mimimum brightness is a joke. And I still think the brightness should be able to go higher

7. Babadook

Posts: 230; Member since: May 24, 2016

The battery on mine is good (I'm a night user, Snapchat, Chrome, Text, basics). (The colors and everything are nice and saturated, love that). But the max brightness is terrible, can't see anything during the day. It's embarrassing. And at night the minimum is terrible as well (though I downloaded an app to help fix this, but wish I didn't have to. The heating issue is weird, sometimes it would get really hot and (most of the time) it would feel normal. Not ever sure why it would randomly heat up?

10. EC112987

Posts: 1216; Member since: Nov 10, 2014

The heating issues were my biggest turn off...I don't want my hand on fire

12. sgodsell

Posts: 7605; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

You have to be trolling or you don't know what you are talking about. "Moto X 2014 which had TERRIBLE maximum brightness (and minimum)" The Moto X 2014 had an AMOLED display, so how would anyone have terrible minimum brightness? It's impossible because it's either on or off, unlike IPS displays where the entire display active. Also it was a bright screen. I could see it outside without any problems.

4. Subie

Posts: 2439; Member since: Aug 01, 2015

I like the looks of these Moto Mods. Nice innovation from Motorola IMO.

6. Rich123

Posts: 88; Member since: Oct 30, 2014

I returned the Droid Turbo 64GB after 10 days when it was first released in 2014, you couldn't see the screen outside in the sun even at full blast or on Auto. You had to find shade to see the screen and even then it was a struggle.

9. Babadook

Posts: 230; Member since: May 24, 2016

That sounds like the Moto X 2014. I love the phone, smooth, decent battery, and the moto actions are amazing. But the maximum brightness is a major issue when outside

13. Amroze

Posts: 597; Member since: Jul 04, 2016

Omg looks sick as tits. Black and gold with Nokia PureView style camera hump. I love phones with humps. It surely will be better than Sonys imx series. Just one thing missing, Xenon flash. And this would be a killer devise. My last phone by Motorola was the V2.

15. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

just wait for hasselblad module

19. MingLiangChen

Posts: 329; Member since: Jul 06, 2012

Agreed, xenon flash, maybe even a camera slider cover would be nice. (I'm thinking Moto ZN5/Sony Ericsson K810i)

14. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

that battery pack is slim tough, and its better than removable battery, just buy 2 of it, use one and leave one on wireless charging dock.. and moto shell style also looks good, and it can flush that camera bulge :D I'll seriously consider this phone over note7 if not because of that horrible square button and fat bottom bezels :-/

16. KingSam

Posts: 1515; Member since: Mar 13, 2016

The G5 needs some "good friends" lmao.

17. Subliminal_

Posts: 8; Member since: Dec 05, 2015

I think this is my next phone, its gorgeous. Just waiting for camera samples from both phones

20. MingLiangChen

Posts: 329; Member since: Jul 06, 2012

Wondering how Deep Trench Isolation can help differentiate camera performance between the two.

18. gigicoaste

Posts: 466; Member since: Feb 21, 2016

Better battery life? Better grip? Noway, more hump!!

21. Bankz

Posts: 2550; Member since: Apr 08, 2016

Mkbhd said "the moto z is the most sexy phone he's ever held" now thats saying something coming from the usually conservative mkbhd. This phone is sexy as f**k tbh

22. superkuiken

Posts: 168; Member since: Mar 24, 2013

The only thing holding me back is that it has no Audio jack.

23. icdvtrvt

Posts: 45; Member since: May 05, 2014

There's a "3.5mm to USB-C headphone port adapter included", but I'd have to agree with you. I don't mind using corded headphones plus I don't have to worry about the battery dying with the headphones either. Also, most of our company vehicles don't have Bluetooth connectivity and the one that do are connected to the company phone. I don't like to have to keep track of and additional piece of equipment. Other than that, sweet phone.

24. tomn1ce

Posts: 248; Member since: Mar 12, 2012

It would've been nice if they would've made the Shells with an integrated battery of at least 1000mAh capacity.

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