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 (Poor)
Motorola Moto Z Force Droid Edition 7h 9 min (Average)
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 7h 18 min (Average)
LG G5 5h 51 min (Poor)
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

83. Vanillabean08

Posts: 1; Member since: Nov 25, 2018

I love my Moto z and my mods ! I use my projector mod always I hope they keep the mods and this phone

80. rbuljo

Posts: 27; Member since: Oct 08, 2014

will these phones work with international sim cards/sim-unlocked like prevous droid models? like the droid turbo etc..

79. p51d007

Posts: 706; Member since: Nov 24, 2013

Pros: Nice Cons: Too expensive, for a PHONE. The manufacturer that comes up with mid-range, good battery life without power packs and add on attachments, gets my money. Last one, is the one I'm still using. Huawei Ascend Mate2. Great battery, snappy (Nova Prime Launcher), good camera. Audio on the speaker is a bit low, but I use BT 99% of the time, so I never use the speaker. Then what did Huawei do? Went all Apple/Samsung on their new phones. People get ripped off, but hey, it's your money if you want a stupid little Apple logo I guess.

70. PHYCLOPSH

Posts: 657; Member since: Jun 28, 2014

And here I am with a brand new G5 wishing it could be a Z Force instead... The upside is at least I'm not in contract and only had to pay a $99 insurance deductible to get it in the first place which I consider a good deal.

71. MingLiangChen

Posts: 329; Member since: Jul 06, 2012

You have a better camera too, if that matters much.

69. MingLiangChen

Posts: 329; Member since: Jul 06, 2012

Somehow I feel that this phone should have come with a free to choose Style Shell as part of the MotoMaker. If Ballistic Nylon/Wood/Leather can't be free, maybe provide us one like the X Pure/Droid Maxx 2/Droid Turbo 2's textured plastic?

63. phichart

Posts: 335; Member since: May 03, 2014

Phone arena has stupid Battery life test and Display test... That's very different from real life.

64. Babadook

Posts: 230; Member since: May 24, 2016

Are you saying the phones have better battery life and higher brightness than PA rated them?

67. MingLiangChen

Posts: 329; Member since: Jul 06, 2012

I don't know which is more accurate, but I'm inclined to combine results from different sites. TomsHardware seems to be one that's reliable, but it doesn't review that many phones.

54. TrackPhoneUser

Posts: 256; Member since: Oct 21, 2015

How would regular cases look with the phone?

53. Swag_me

Posts: 18; Member since: Jun 22, 2016

The phone is impressive but why they didn't include the headphone jack?

46. Babadook

Posts: 230; Member since: May 24, 2016

Can anyone confirm if it's true that Gorilla Glass 4 is better at scratch resistance than the scatterproof tech on Force? I thought I read that it has a soft plastic outer layer. Should I be worried? (I have the Moto X 2014, Gorilla Glass 3 and zero scratches, I should probably be okay, right?)

48. MingLiangChen

Posts: 329; Member since: Jul 06, 2012

Scratches should easily appear on the Force. There will be replacements for sale for the outer layer.

50. Babadook

Posts: 230; Member since: May 24, 2016

Seriously? That's super disappointing and worrisome!

56. MingLiangChen

Posts: 329; Member since: Jul 06, 2012

If you handle it with care, that shouldn't be an issue. Dropping it might cause some scratches. Think of it as a plastic screen protector we buy in the past for our phones.

65. Babadook

Posts: 230; Member since: May 24, 2016

So my old phone is Gorilla Glass 3 and no scratches. Is the scatter proof, outer layer roughly the same as that or not even close?

66. MingLiangChen

Posts: 329; Member since: Jul 06, 2012

That layer is plastic after all, not glass. So, I'd say not quite close. You may watch some reviews of last year's Droid Turbo 2 to have a look at the scratch resistance, although I'm not sure if this year's shattershield tech uses the same layers as before. Moto claims this ShatterShield 2nd gen makes the phone bezel smaller, but doesn't say anything else about it (as far as the ignorant me know).

68. MingLiangChen

Posts: 329; Member since: Jul 06, 2012

Was your old phone's screen naked? If so, then it's really great it didn't have any scratches on it. I suppose some tiny mini scratches will still be visible under sunlight?

73. Babadook

Posts: 230; Member since: May 24, 2016

Yeah my Moto X 2014 looks fine and I've never had a screen protector. I have a case, but nothing over the screen. I don't see any scratches whatsoever. I'm quite careful with my phone or not-clumsy. Only dropped it 1 on cement, and everything was fine (thankfully). That's why I'm curious if I could get away with just a case on the Force out of box.

75. MingLiangChen

Posts: 329; Member since: Jul 06, 2012

there's a drop test video by Android Central on YT.

34. legiloca

Posts: 1676; Member since: Nov 11, 2014

Moto Z Force Droid + JBL speaker Mod case = Dream Team kudos Motorol....errrm.. Lenovo :D

33. JunitoNH

Posts: 1946; Member since: Feb 15, 2012

I have mix emotions about the device. Very nice built etc but if you are not on the go, why bother? You can always buy third party battery packs, a projector from $48 and up, BT speakers to use, not only with Moto, but all devices. And then, if something goes wrong, dealing with Moto.

25. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Damn, the price is much higher than I thought it would be but I guess Moto did go all out with these phones. All in all i'm definitely impressed and interested. Actually after seeing these phones i'm even more interested in what Moto is going to do with the Moto X.

23. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3109; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

This phone is like Sara jay. Ugly from the front but baby got back.

22. Bankz

Posts: 2555; Member since: Apr 08, 2016

Omg!!! All media sites basically going crazy over the Moto Z. Crazy stuff tbh!!! You know you're a manufacturing genius when a pro apple site like the verge bows to your greatness and list your phones cons as no headphone jack, no wireless charging. lol www.theverge.com/2016/7/21/12244300/motorola-moto-z-review-droid-moto-mod www.droid-life.com/2016/07/21/moto-z-droid-review/ www.cnet.com/pictures/motorola-moto-z-force/

19. Ordinary

Posts: 2454; Member since: Apr 23, 2015

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

27. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

I don't think they should lose score for the lack of headphone jack, that's like losing score for the lack of a micro sd card slot, removable battery, ir blaster, quick charge, dual sim. Now those are some good features but a phone shouldn't get any negative points for lacking them.

30. libra89

Posts: 2357; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

Are those really on the same level, especially the ir blaster? I don't even know of many phones that have that. The headphone jack is fair, but at least they have the sense to actually include an adapter. Unlike all of these manufacturers who have phones that have type c to c connection!

35. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Don't get me started on the IR blaster bruh, my room ate my TV remote like 2 weeks after getting it but thank god I had an HTC M8 at the time, with its convenient IR blaster it didn't matter that I lost my remote because I didn't need it. Now i've had and iPhone since January and the IR blaster is my most missed feature from my old M8. I know I could have bought a universal remote by now but since I use my two pair of wireless headphones for media consumption most of the time I only have to get up and change the volume every now and then but still I miss the IRB and could give two s**ts about the headphone jack, I would easlly swap it for an IRB right now if I could. BTW i've been using wireless headphone and bluetooth earbuds for over a year now so I'm definitely biased when it comes to the headphone jack, even being unbiased I believe the SD card slot, removable battery, and quick charge to be just as important.

40. libra89

Posts: 2357; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

I understand where you are coming from now. With that viewpoint, every iPhone should lose a point for not having those three things. Personally indifferent, but I do understand the general importance though.

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