Call Quality

Can you hear me now? Sure, but with a little interference

Just like with data connectivity, the two Moto Z Droid phones have the luxury of tapping into Verizon's rock-solid network, and call quality didn't disappoint. And if the party you're calling also supports it, the phones let you take advantage of higher-quality HD Voice support.

We did experience one small issue, though, and during calls we were able to perceive a slight hiss from the earpieces of the phones. It was very quiet, and you're likely to experience far more interference when the person you're calling moves into an area of poor reception, but it's still just enough to take away from an otherwise stellar call experience.

Battery Life

For phones this thin, we'd expect a lot less.

A smartphone as thin as the Moto Z Droid looks like it should get you – what? – one, two hours of solid use on a charge? Instead, we clocked just under six hours of operation in our custom testing. While plenty of phones do better, none are this thin, which says a lot for the Moto Z Droid and its 2,600mAh battery.

The Moto Z Force Droid does better still, but we're a little disappointed it didn't last longer than it did. The phone's 3,500mAh battery is 35% larger than the Moto Z Droid's, but the just-over-seven-hours of battery life we measured represents only a 22% improvement. Considering the battery's size, we'd hope for closer to eight hours.

Both phones recharge quickly with their included Turbo Power adapters, with the Moto Z Droid in particular impressing with going from zero to full in just 72 minutes. The only annoying part here is that the USB cables are hard-wired to those adapters, making packing and traveling with them a little more difficult.

Battery life (hours) Higher is better
Motorola Moto Z Droid Edition 5h 52 min (Average)
Motorola Moto Z Force Droid Edition 7h 9 min (Good)
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 7h 18 min (Good)
LG G5 5h 51 min (Average)
Charging time (minutes) Lower is better
Motorola Moto Z Droid Edition 72
Motorola Moto Z Force Droid Edition 110
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 99
LG G5 76

Moto Mods

Lenovo aims high and pretty much nails it

These handsets are special in that we're not just reviewing the phones themselves, but also their Moto Mods add-ons. To be a successful modular platform, Lenovo's going to have to keep the accessories coming, and it's off to a good start: the Moto Z phones are launching with the JBL SoundBoost Speaker, a variety of Power Pack extended batteries, and the Moto Insta-Share Projector – already off to a better start than the LG Friends.

The JBL SoundBoost Speaker is a lot like the sort of battery-powered Bluetooth speaker you might carry around with you, only it attaches to the rear of Moto Z phones with its powerful magnets. A built-in battery offers up to 10 hours of playback time, and while its dual 3-Watt speakers aren't the loudest we've ever heard, they're a nice way to boost either phone's native output without taking up a lot of extra space – though to be fair, this is the bulkiest of the Moto Mods.


A built-in kickstand helps prop the speakers up to let sound flow out into the room, while also giving users a convenient way to watch videos on their phones. And if you're taking a lot of voice calls, the speakers function as a hands-free speakerphone.

The Moto Insta-Share Projector is a lot of fun, as you'd expect a smartphone projector would be. It's got a 50-lumen output that lets it project a screen up to about 70 inches diagonal, and packs its own 1,100 mAh battery. A stand helps aim its picture up at a nearby wall, and keystone auto-correction keeps the image straight (though you can always tweak that in software). In addition to a power button on the projector, there's also a scroll wheel for adjusting focus, though we found it to be a little finicky for our tastes – it was easy to overshoot the focal sweet spot, and immediately dialing back in the other direction often failed to reacquire focus.


Getting the right location for projector usage is key to its enjoyment, and you're going to want a dark environment with an unobstructed, light-colored wall. Finding that's easier said that done, but even if the situation you're in is less than ideal, being able to share your phone's screen like this is so novel that we imagine the Insta-Share Projector's going to find a lot of success. Maybe its biggest limitation is its battery life, and just projecting a music video or two can easily take 10% off the unit's internal battery.

As for the Power Pack, you'll find a variety of design options, and the plain black Tumi model we checked out augmented battery capacity to the tune of 2,200mAh hours. Unlike the speaker and projector, this one doesn't have its own USB Type-C port for charging, and instead can only be recharged when attached to the phone itself – a slight inconvenience, but we understand how it helps keep size down. When full, it will help keep the phone's battery charged, meaning you can run down the Power Pack and later pop it off, enjoying a slimmer phone with 100% battery as your work day winds down.


The magnets used by all Moto Mods accessories are quite strong, and we had no misgivings about anything shaking loose. These magnets are in the modules themselves, and while stray paperclips or twist-ties will stick to them all too easily, the actual smartphones won't be picking up any stray metallic items.

Software is also really well done, and the phones recognize each Moto Mod by name when attached, greeting you with an introductory slide show and offering configuration options where available. Also critical to the success of this project, the phones can keep users informed of available Moto Mods options, letting them discover new accessories as they come out.


Conclusion



Moto phones don't always seem like the most impressive handsets around. They can be stylish, sure, and their software is often well done, but it's been difficult for them to really wow in the face of more polished handsets like the Galaxy S7.

But with the Moto Z Droid, Moto Z Force Droid, and their Moto Mods, Lenovo has really given us reason to pay new attention to what Motorola phones can be capable of. Spend a little time with options like the Insta-Share Projector, and you quickly see how this could be huge – and we mean as it impacts the smartphone market, because even with the projector attached, the Moto Z Droid still comfortably fits in a pocket.

From the secure magnetic hardware, to the friendly software, to just how much these Moto Mods actually add to the user experience, it's really awe-inspiring what Lenovo has managed to put together here. Still, there's plenty of ways Moto Mods could go wrong, form third-party developers failing to deliver compelling new options (though Lenovo's really encouraging them to come up with hot new Mods, as it makes a dev kit available), to prohibitive pricing keeping Moto Z Droid owners from taking full advantage of the hardware ecosystem available. But while it remains to be seen if Moto Mods can thrive where LG Friends have not, Lenovo is already in a much stronger starting position.

And honestly, even if there were no modular hardware here, the Moto Z Droid and Moto Z Force Droid would still be some really attractive handsets. The super-thin design is stunning while still feeling robust (even if it's tricky to get used to handling a phone so svelte), performance doesn't let us down, and both models offer some decent camera output.

Both phones are available for pre-order today, and arrive in one week, on July 28. The Moto Z Droid will run you $624, while the Moto Z Force Droid costs nearly $100 more, at $720. There's nothing particularly surprising about either of those figures.

As for the Moto Mods, they'll also all be available on July 28, when you can pick up the JBL SoundBoost Speaker for about $80, various Power Packs ranging from $60 to $90, or that Moto Insta-Share Projector for a cool $300. We'd have loved for all those prices to be a bit lower (as affordable availability would do nothing but drive sales of the high-margin smartphones themselves), and the Power Pack pricing seems especially high. But if you've got the cash, Lenovo and Verizon are happy to give you all the options you'll need for one of the best-equipped smartphone solutions you can find anywhere.

Software version of the review unit: Android 6.0.1; Build Number: MCL24.203-22



Pros

  • Moto Mods are cool
  • Fantastically thin Moto Z Droid feels like it's from the future
  • Quick cameras help capture the shot when you need it
  • Familiar gesture controls are legitimately useful

Cons

  • Moto Mods accessories get pricy, fast
  • Battery life of Moto Z Force Droid should be better
  • Style Swap covers can be a pain to get off
  • No good reason for the Moto Z Force Droid to lack a headphone jack

PhoneArena Rating:

8.9

FEATURED VIDEO

81 Comments

1. FlySheikh

Posts: 444; Member since: Oct 02, 2015

I'm impressed..

4. zex999

Posts: 92; Member since: Feb 14, 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.

72. Bankz

Posts: 2550; Member since: Apr 08, 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!!!

76. MrElectrifyer

Posts: 3960; Member since: Oct 21, 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.

6. sgodsell

Posts: 7430; Member since: Mar 16, 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.

13. GreenMan

Posts: 2698; Member since: Nov 09, 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!

45. FlySheikh

Posts: 444; Member since: Oct 02, 2015

Hahah!

26. zeeBomb

Posts: 2318; Member since: Aug 14, 2014

Moto G4 = 7 These two: nearly a 9 Ok

29. zeeBomb

Posts: 2318; Member since: Aug 14, 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!!

81. rca30178

Posts: 6; Member since: Jul 25, 2016

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2. ThePython

Posts: 902; Member since: May 08, 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.

7. sgodsell

Posts: 7430; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

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

51. ThePython

Posts: 902; Member since: May 08, 2013

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

3. donrox

Posts: 203; Member since: Jul 18, 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?

37. MingLiangChen

Posts: 329; Member since: Jul 06, 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

39. SYSTEM_LORD

Posts: 1168; Member since: Oct 05, 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.

41. MingLiangChen

Posts: 329; Member since: Jul 06, 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.

42. MingLiangChen

Posts: 329; Member since: Jul 06, 2012

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

49. SYSTEM_LORD

Posts: 1168; Member since: Oct 05, 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.

5. Babadook

Posts: 230; Member since: May 24, 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).

8. roldefol

Posts: 4744; Member since: Jan 28, 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.)

12. GreenMan

Posts: 2698; Member since: Nov 09, 2015

Moto Z Force, eh? Is it "Zee" Force or "Zed" Force, I wonder...? Oh well, G'Day!

14. Bankz

Posts: 2550; Member since: Apr 08, 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.

18. roldefol

Posts: 4744; Member since: Jan 28, 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.

47. nebula

Posts: 1009; Member since: Feb 20, 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.

16. libra89

Posts: 2290; Member since: Apr 15, 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.

17. MingLiangChen

Posts: 329; Member since: Jul 06, 2012

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

28. libra89

Posts: 2290; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

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

43. MingLiangChen

Posts: 329; Member since: Jul 06, 2012

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

19. Ordinary

Posts: 2454; Member since: Apr 23, 2015

>no headphone jack >score 8.9 Prep time for you know who

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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