The Moto Z2 Force Edition's "unbreakable" screen can be scratched by a fingernail

In this day and age, if you look up the definition of absolute horror, you will find “Dropping your smartphone on hard pavement” listed somewhere around “No Wi-Fi” and “Low battery”. Indeed, our phones may be beautiful glass-and-metal pieces of industrial design, but they are so, so fragile... and so, so expensive to fix or replace!

Motorola sought to end the plight of serial phone droppers with last year's Moto Z Force — the shatter-proof phone! And, indeed, multiple drop and torture tests showed that the handset just does not break. It dents, sure, it bends, definitely, the screen gets deformed as it's plastic, but doesn't shatter, unless you really, really, really try.

This year, the Moto Z2 Force Edition is the company's only flagship and it is, again, shatter-proof, toting Motorola's latest generation of the ShatterShield display. But as much as it is shatter-proof, it looks like it's extremely easy to scratch.

The fine folks over at Android Police posted about their Moto Z2 Force Edition phones not looking as shiny as they used to just a couple of days ago. Carried in pockets, and spending their time mostly on desks (as smartphones usually do), the handsets still magically picked up some nasty scrapes on the display. In fact, the article reports, that one can put a nice dent in the display with just a fingernail and some pressure.

See, the issue that the ShatterProof display isn't made of glass, but is, in fact, plastic. And while last year's Moto Z Force was reported as being more prone to scratches, it was still a fair tradeoff, considering its ability to survive falls. But the material used on the Moto Z2 Force Edition seems to be much, much softer and easier to damage, which is not cool for a flagship-grade device.

Motorola's official statement on the matter is that “scratches are subjective” and use of screen protectors is still encouraged by the company. It continues to claim that this year's ShatterShield display is just as durable as last year's design and that reviewers received early production units, while the devices that will go out to customers are actually improved in this aspect. Eh, OK.

UPDATE (August 3, 2017): We've included an up-to-date statement from Motorola in response to the matter. The previous statement suggested that Z2 Force owners could replace the top layer of the display should it get damaged. This was possible on last year's Moto Z Force, but isn't an option on this year's model.

Related phones

Moto Z2 Force Edition
  • Display 5.5" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 5 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, Octa-core, 2450 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 2730 mAh




Posts: 1168; Member since: Oct 05, 2015

The reason these phone makers can't make phone screens that are very scratch resistant as well as being shatter resistant is because the screen material itself is only party of the equation...the structural form of the phone itself is the other! The advent of super thin phones (which is facilitated by a thinner display stack) and limited/no bezel designs is causing this. The desire to use metal which transmits shock as opposed to polycarbonates that absorb it also aid in this sad state of smartphone durability we're in. Chasing form over function has its rewards, and as we can all see, they're not all that satisfying.

7. NoAllegiance unregistered

Yeah, last year's Moto Z Force was shatter-resistant, but it still succumbed to drops as the phone would not power on due to the impact of the drops. I wonder if this one will fair any better.

8. sgodsell

Posts: 7598; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

That happens to all smartphones. The selling point is the screen will not break. So sure the rest of the phone as well as any other smartphone will break if it's dropped hard enough.

18. L0n3n1nja

Posts: 1588; Member since: Jul 12, 2016

Unless the shatterproof screen has been improved since it debuted on the Droid Turbo 2, they do still break, they just don't shatter like other phones. Phone falls face down on anything and it could crack at point of impact, it just didn't spread like it would on a normal display. Also it's only said to no break for falls up to 5ft, plenty of opportunities for a phone to fall further.

19. NoAllegiance unregistered

I know, but what is the point of having a phone that won't shatter if dropped but does not turn on because something broke or turned off internally? The S7 active and LG V20 faired better. Maybe Moto needs to get MIL-STD certification.

2. Landon

Posts: 1248; Member since: May 07, 2015

Put a tempered glass screen protector on it. Problem solved.

6. NoAllegiance unregistered

But if you were to drop it, would the impact of the glass not damage the plastic display underneath it?

13. Landon

Posts: 1248; Member since: May 07, 2015

Depends on how bad the drop is, and also what tempered glass you're using. For most drops, if you were using a 9H tempered glass screen protector, the screen (even being a plastic one) will most likely not get damaged.

20. NoAllegiance unregistered

Good point, but you still paying extra for a phone that's $800. Which is sad.

16. matistight

Posts: 1029; Member since: May 13, 2009

Do you listen to yourself when you talk?


Posts: 1168; Member since: Oct 05, 2015

Yeah, I agree. Using a flat screen with a 2.5D tempered glass screen protector solves the scratching issue, as well as the issue with the screen shattering as the protector shatters instead. But we can't have situations like that, can we? The OEMs don't make money like that.

15. gotoAndDie

Posts: 82; Member since: Jun 13, 2015

I think the problem is that it just won't look good to everybody, nor would everybody know that the protector could be replaced in the first place. A long distance between the surface of the glass and the actual display can look cheap, and even tempered glass screen protectors scratch more easily than most screen glass implementations that are made of glass.

3. sebbellic01

Posts: 305; Member since: May 03, 2016

Plastic screen. Simple answer.

4. adi9764

Posts: 119; Member since: Feb 16, 2016

The definition of failure

5. brasstax

Posts: 546; Member since: Apr 16, 2014

"Scratches are subjective..." This has got to be the single most dumb statement since Steve Job's "you are holding it wrong" defense..

12. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3109; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

Indeed. These companies think we are dumb. They will get what they deserve.


Posts: 121; Member since: Jul 21, 2015

Regressing every year, they threw away ballistic nylon for week glass and droid turbo 2's shatter proof display for this. now they're saying display is scratch-able! New statement from Motorola: don't touch your screen, we don't have any responsibility for those who touch the phone as it may crack the screen.

10. Marslander

Posts: 160; Member since: Jan 08, 2015

That's always been the conundrum with making these displays. If you make them more scratch resistant, they become less shatter resistant. If you make them more shatter resistant, they become less scratch resistant. The Holy Grail has been to develop a material that combines the shatter resistance of plastics, with the scratch resistance of glass.

11. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3109; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

Fail. Not as advertised. Bad move moto.

17. matistight

Posts: 1029; Member since: May 13, 2009

You are acting like the Droid Turbo 2 and Moto Z Force didn't have the same screen. It is plastic.

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