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Moto Z Droid and Moto Z Force Droid Review

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Moto Z Droid and Moto Z Force Droid Review

Introduction


Smartphones are insanely personal devices, and from the handset we choose, to the platform it runs, to the apps we elect to install, and even to the carrier on whose network we operate, the choices we make about our phones say a lot about how we intend to use these devices and the role we see them playing in our lives. For some people, a one-size-fits-all approach makes a lot of sense, taking excess decision-making out of the process. But there's another contingent of users that strives for a little more flexibility, looking for phones that are able to adapt to the task at hand. For them, this year's rise of the modular smartphone is a dream come true.

Moto Z Force Droid (left) and Moto Z Droid (right) - Moto Z Droid and Moto Z Force Droid Review

Moto Z Force Droid (left) and Moto Z Droid (right)

The LG G5 and its modular “Friends” add-ons may have brought the subject of modular phone hardware into the public eye, but issues with availability, implementation, and simple desirability got in the way of LG's ecosystem really taking off. Now Lenovo's here to try and make that concept actually work, pairing the new Moto Z lineup with its Moto Mods accessories. Will the Moto Mods become an intrinsic part of how many Moto Z owners use their phones? Will they be an initial curiosity whose allure quickly fades? And if we look past all the hype and potential of the Moto Mods, are the Moto Z phones themselves handsets worthy of wearing the Motorola flagship crown?

In the States, the Moto Z series is debuting as a Verizon exclusive, with the carrier picking up both the Moto Z Droid and the Moto Z Force Droid. Together, they represent some of the most ambitious smartphones we've seen under the Motorola brand in some time. We've been putting both handsets, as well as the initial wave of Moto Mods add-ons, through their paces. And while it may be too early to tell whether or not the Moto Z family will be able to change the way we look at phone hardware, it's hard to deny that this is the best-executed take on modular smartphones anyone's released to date.

In the box:

  • Moto Z Droid (Moto Z Force Droid)
  • Style Shell
  • USB Type-C charging adapter
  • Headphone adapter
  • SIM tool
  • Introductory guide
  • Safety notice

Design

A phone so thin it feels like it shouldn't possibly exist

Moto Z Droid and Moto Z Force Droid Review
With the way the Moto Z series is approaching modular design, affixing Moto Mods to the phones' backs rather than attaching them on the bottom like the LG G5, Motorola finds itself in a tricky position: how do you support such an arrangement without handsets quickly growing prohibitively thick?

Simply enough, you start with one of the thinnest phones we've ever seen – and easily the thinnest at this flagship level. Camera bump notwithstanding, the Moto Z Droid measures under 5.2mm thick. And while the Moto Z Force Droid adds a bigger battery and other hardware upgrades that demand a larger body, even that model manages to come in under 7mm thick.

Without any Moto Mods attached, the Moto Z Force Droid feels like a pretty typical flagship. The all-metal construction feels incredibly solid, the fingerprint scanner makes for a conveniently placed makeshift power button, and an angled ridge running the length of the phone's edge helps users maintain a steady grip.

But then there's the Moto Z Droid, which is so thin as to almost feel … well, wrong. Our hands just aren't used to manipulating screens this preposterously thin, and while we didn't get any hint that the phone's structural integrity suffered as a result of its barely-there profile, it took a little time before handling the Moto Z Droid picked up a sense of normalcy. As a result, we found ourselves thickening-out the phone a little with one of the included Style Shell covers, the “dumb” alternative to smart Moto Mods accessories.

Moto Z Droid and Moto Z Force Droid Review
Moto Z Droid and Moto Z Force Droid Review
Moto Z Droid and Moto Z Force Droid Review
Moto Z Droid and Moto Z Force Droid Review
Moto Z Droid and Moto Z Force Droid Review

The Style Shells look great, and are available in a variety of materials, but we didn't love the slight bit of play they have when attached to the phones; even with the magnetic connection nice and solid, the covers have just a smidge of wiggle to them that keeps them from staying locked in place. Speaking of locked, though, we found ourselves frustrated with just how hard it can be to remove these guys – while full-blown Moto Mods accessories offer a convenient ridge along their bottom edges to act as a “pry point” of sorts when removing them, the Style Shells lack any such refinement. Motorola says to just use your fingernails, but easier said than done.


Motorola Moto Z Droid Edition
6.04 x 2.96 x 0.2 inches
153.3 x 75.3 x 5.19 mm
4.80 oz (136 g)

Motorola Moto Z Droid Edition

Motorola Moto Z Force Droid Edition
6.14 x 2.98 x 0.28 inches
155.9 x 75.8 x 6.99 mm
5.75 oz (163 g)

Motorola Moto Z Force Droid Edition

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
5.94 x 2.86 x 0.3 inches
150.9 x 72.6 x 7.7 mm
5.54 oz (157 g)

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

LG G5
5.88 x 2.91 x 0.29 inches
149.4 x 73.9 x 7.3 mm
5.61 oz (159 g)

LG G5


To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page.


Display

Shatterproof is good (but scratchproof would be better)

Moto Z Droid and Moto Z Force Droid Review

Both the Moto Z Droid and Moto Z Force Droid offer 5.5-inch QHD (1440 x 2560) AMOLED displays. While the Moto Z Droid's screen gets pretty standard Gorilla Glass protection, the Moto Z Force Droid comes ready to withstand some rough handling with the same sort of impact-resistant ShatterShield tech we saw on last year's Droid Turbo 2. That's not going to render the screen immune from the occasional scratch, but it is designed to resist catastrophic failure in the event of dropping the handset onto a hard surface.

Head-on, these displays each look quite nice, and while color temperature (in the “standard,” realistic color mode) is slightly on the cooler side, relative color accuracy is still largely consistent.

The same can't be said for extreme viewing angles, though, and looking at the phones from their edges introduces an unmistakeable greenish hue.

Moto Display is hardly a unique feature to the Moto Z phones, but it's still a welcome addition to the way we interact with the handsets. The handsets detect when you're getting near them, and light up their screens to show time, charge, and selected notifications. If you've never lazily waved your foot over your coffee table to check the time, you're missing out.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Motorola Moto Z Droid Edition 528
(Excellent)
9
(Average)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
7209
(Good)
2.17
3.6
(Good)
5.84
(Average)
Motorola Moto Z Force Droid Edition 512
(Excellent)
9
(Average)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
7212
(Good)
2.13
2.94
(Good)
5.2
(Average)
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 493
(Good)
2
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6586
(Excellent)
2.03
1.47
(Excellent)
2.62
(Good)
LG G5 816
(Excellent)
4
(Excellent)
1:2220
(Excellent)
7816
(Average)
2.14
4.34
(Average)
8.43
(Poor)
View all


80 Comments
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posted on 21 Jul 2016, 08:05 7

1. FlySheikh (Posts: 430; Member since: 02 Oct 2015)


I'm impressed..

posted on 21 Jul 2016, 08:20 1

4. zex999 (Posts: 92; Member since: 14 Feb 2016)


Yes really impressed, I just wish it was a bit more affordable. Also, in my opinion this is not truly modular. The add ons just add to much bulk and thickness. Meaning this is not much different than phone cases that add extra battery time or other features, which pretty much every other popular phone has.

posted on 22 Jul 2016, 16:56

72. Bankz (Posts: 2097; Member since: 08 Apr 2016)


This system is even better than anything google will put out with the ara simply because of its simplicity, execution, implementation and convenience. This might not be modular per se, but then its might be something actually better than that tbh

With the Mods, anything is possible. Can you say that about a normal phone? Can a projector work with a normal phone with an accessory? Can the onecompute work with a normal phone through an accessory? The simple anser is, NO!!!

posted on 22 Jul 2016, 19:27

76. MrElectrifyer (banned) (Posts: 3960; Member since: 21 Oct 2014)


"With the Mods, anything is possible. Can you say that about a normal phone? Can a projector work with a normal phone with an accessory? Can the onecompute work with a normal phone through an accessory?"

Actually, the answer is yes to all of the above, thanks to USB OTG. Here's how to use any projector (there's loads of portable ones) via OTG ( http://goo.gl/fIzf82 ), and an OTG continuum for all Android devices ( https://goo.gl/mDjvR7 ). Both do what those other two do for the Moto Z, for ALL Android devices. Moto Mods are just proprietary BS that'll get obsolete if you dare to switch to a non-motorola phone.

posted on 21 Jul 2016, 08:25 1

6. sgodsell (Posts: 5057; Member since: 16 Mar 2013)


This is something new and these phones definitely bring some much needed innovation to the mobility rat race. I truly applaud Lenovo and Motorola for releasing this to the world. As far as the mods are concerned the really pricey mod is the projector mod. I don't see a lot of consumers purchasing this mod any way.

You mentioned that some of the battery mods are expensive. However you forgot to mention that some also give you wireless charging as well. Not to mention some iPhone battery cases are more expensive and don't have wireless charging.

posted on 21 Jul 2016, 08:48 1

13. GreenMan (Posts: 1884; Member since: 09 Nov 2015)


I'm impressed too, "Ya Sheikh"...

Simply because of Stock Android... And the build quality seems pretty impressive too... I like the back panel's fit & finish & the attention to details... Although not a fan of the 'Camera Hump'...

The only problem is "The Gargantuan" size... Even Samsung Edge seems 'Tiny' in comparison...

I prefer phones that fits easily in my front pocket without peeking out... But that's just me, eh?

G'Day!

posted on 21 Jul 2016, 10:54

45. FlySheikh (Posts: 430; Member since: 02 Oct 2015)


Hahah!

posted on 21 Jul 2016, 09:23 1

26. zeeBomb (Posts: 2304; Member since: 14 Aug 2014)


Moto G4 = 7
These two: nearly a 9

Ok

posted on 21 Jul 2016, 09:27 3

29. zeeBomb (Posts: 2304; Member since: 14 Aug 2014)


But to be honest, this review surprised the heck out of me.The Moto Z still attained very loud sound of the USB 2 headphone well, camera is great, and the Moto Mods just proved it's infinitely better than the LG G5. Well done Moto, well done!!

posted on 25 Jul 2016, 05:50

81. rca30178 (Posts: 6; Member since: 25 Jul 2016)


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>>>>>>WWW.factoryofincome.COM

posted on 21 Jul 2016, 08:11 1

2. ThePython (Posts: 902; Member since: 08 May 2013)


I hoped it would be a bit less expensive than most flagships, that's a shame. The price and the lack of a 3.5 mm jack kills it for me.

posted on 21 Jul 2016, 08:28 5

7. sgodsell (Posts: 5057; Member since: 16 Mar 2013)


They give you a 3.5mm dongle in the box for you headphones.

posted on 21 Jul 2016, 16:43 2

51. ThePython (Posts: 902; Member since: 08 May 2013)


A clunky solution. I've had bad luck with Motorola accessories, a new one will probably cost a fortune where I live.

posted on 21 Jul 2016, 08:12 1

3. donrox (Posts: 193; Member since: 18 Jul 2014)


photos from both phones lack a lot in sharpness. Details look smudged even in daylight. Why isn't this highlighted in the review nor listed as a con?

posted on 21 Jul 2016, 10:02

37. MingLiangChen (Posts: 325; Member since: 06 Jul 2012)


Is it that aggressive noise reduction from the X Pure 2015 again? I can't really view the photos because they cost me so much data :p

posted on 21 Jul 2016, 10:08

39. SYSTEM_LORD (Posts: 1042; Member since: 05 Oct 2015)


The photos on the Force don't look bad, the color is good, the details are sharp, and they have clarity. The regular one looks bad in my opinion.

I may have to get a OnePlus 3 or Axon 7 if they repeat the same (lack of) quality from the regular Z on their up and coming Z Play.

posted on 21 Jul 2016, 10:40

41. MingLiangChen (Posts: 325; Member since: 06 Jul 2012)


I've used the X Style and X Play and I must say the X Play's camera, though being the same sensor, produces pictures that are more "uncomfortable" to look at. It might be my own unit, because I've seen pictures posted online that don't look glaring. Expecting the same from Z vs Z Play.

posted on 21 Jul 2016, 10:41

42. MingLiangChen (Posts: 325; Member since: 06 Jul 2012)


Again, only zooming 100% reveals every flaw it has.

posted on 21 Jul 2016, 13:42

49. SYSTEM_LORD (Posts: 1042; Member since: 05 Oct 2015)


Fair enough, but the 615 series (615, 616, and 617) don't have that great of an ISP. The 625 is supposed to be quite a bit better, and can handle 4K.

posted on 21 Jul 2016, 08:22

5. Babadook (Posts: 214; Member since: 24 May 2016)


Kinda disappointed with the Force battery life and max/min brightness. But it's still between this and the new Nexus (assuming Verizon gets it).

posted on 21 Jul 2016, 08:34 1

8. roldefol (Posts: 4365; Member since: 28 Jan 2011)


Wish the minimum brightness and color temp were better. Moto still gets stuck with last gen Samsung screens (though I think the Force uses an LG POLED like the Flex line.)

posted on 21 Jul 2016, 08:44

12. GreenMan (Posts: 1884; Member since: 09 Nov 2015)


Moto Z Force, eh?

Is it "Zee" Force or "Zed" Force, I wonder...?

Oh well,

G'Day!

posted on 21 Jul 2016, 08:49 2

14. Bankz (Posts: 2097; Member since: 08 Apr 2016)


For a brand like lenovo moto to have a 9 in phonearena? Good gracious!!!! This phone must be damn impressive.

With this phone, you know anything is possible. Just anything. The most innovative smartphone since the original iphone in my opinion and in close contention for being the best smartphone of all time.

posted on 21 Jul 2016, 08:59

18. roldefol (Posts: 4365; Member since: 28 Jan 2011)


Moto still has a good name around here. Especially when they bring actual differentiating innovations like Moto Display, Shattershield, and the modular backs.

Lenovo branded phones likely wouldn't rate as high.

posted on 21 Jul 2016, 13:27

47. nebula (Posts: 1002; Member since: 20 Feb 2015)


I was scrolling down just to find someone who things alike me. 9 is too much given price tag. is this phone special? Yes and now. The good thing is module will be suitable for the next year model so they say so.
I really i think I really like it because of modules, maybe implementation to be perfectly honest which is awesome.

But c'mon that price!!! Last year pricing was spot on.Knowing how crap is they post purchase service which is almost oblivion f**k no.

posted on 21 Jul 2016, 08:52

16. libra89 (Posts: 1012; Member since: 15 Apr 2016)


Wow, these phones sound pretty nice, but yeah I didn't think that they would be in the $600 and $700 ranges. I envisioned one being $500 something and the other $600 something.

posted on 21 Jul 2016, 08:58

17. MingLiangChen (Posts: 325; Member since: 06 Jul 2012)


Are these reviews from different teams coming out at the same time again? @@

posted on 21 Jul 2016, 09:26

28. libra89 (Posts: 1012; Member since: 15 Apr 2016)


I think the timing is probably intentional since if you pre-order this phone, you can have it fairly soon.

posted on 21 Jul 2016, 10:43

43. MingLiangChen (Posts: 325; Member since: 06 Jul 2012)


Great that we can watch every single review in one run for people who are die hard fans.

posted on 21 Jul 2016, 09:04

19. Ordinary (Posts: 2453; Member since: 23 Apr 2015)


>no headphone jack
>score 8.9

Prep time for you know who

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