Moto Z2 Force Still Has Those Sad Mods, But Maybe the Phone Will Be Good This Time

Photo: Alex Cranz/Gizmodo
Photo: Alex Cranz/Gizmodo

Motorola stands alone. Last year LG and Google both killed their respective modular phones. So the new Moto Z2 Force, with its small array of magnetic attachments, is the closest thing we have to a smartphone with customizable modular hardware. No one actually wants this, but that’s not stopping Motorola from doubling down and insisting that the modular phone’s time has arrived.

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This is the second iteration of a modular phone from Motorola, which released the Moto Z last year to much confusion and sighs. As with the Z, the new Z2 Force is a super thin phone with a mighty thick camera bump and a magnetic connector on the back. The mods, which range from fancy cameras to fatter batteries, simple connect to the magnet, creating a chunky new device.

Last year the Moto Z failed because it was too much gadget and not enough of a good phone all on its lonesome, so this year Motorola is focusing on making a great phone first. The Moto Z has the top-of-the-line Snapdragon 835 processor also found in the Samsung Galaxy S8 and a 5.5-inch 1440p AMOLED display that should be plenty beautiful while also battery friendly. Motorola also claims it is shatterproof and waterproof.

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The Moto Z2 is also the latest phone to jump on the dual camera bandwagon, with its two 12-megapixel shooters.

As phones go, the Moto Z2 is exceptionally thin at just 6mm. By comparison the iPhone 7 is 7.1mm thick and the Samsung S8 is 8mm thick.

Yet the Moto Z2 will bulk up if you snap on any of the new mods. Motorola showed off two at the event today here in New York. The first is the MotoMod Gamepad that turns it into a Nintendo Switch-like device for gaming. Motorola claims that because it uses the MotoMod connector instead of Bluetooth it will be lag free. The second mod announced is the $300 360-degree camera that shoots video in 4K and has live streaming capabilities

Motorola did not announce a contract-free price for the phone, but the company told reporters that it will start at $30 a month on August 10th from every major US mobile carrier. Pre-orders for the Moto Z2 start today.

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Senior Consumer Tech Editor. Trained her dog to do fist bumps. Once wrote for Lifetime. Tips encouraged via Secure Drop, Proton Mail, or DM for Signal.

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DISCUSSION

I’d be willing to bet a Moto Z2 Force with the Moto TurboPower pack clocks in at 6.58mm thick which still makes it thinner than the iPhone 7 and Galaxy S8 and it effectively gives it an effective 6,240 mAh battery which blows away any other phone whilst getting no thicker.

The biggest problem for Motorla and it’s mods remains the cost of the mods. The $79.99 Turbopower battery pack isn’t so terrible given a Mophie Juice Pack for the S8 or iPhone 7 is in the $99 range (Apple’s own battery case is around $89 on Amazon). Other mods such as the style mods bring wireless charging for $39 or a gamepad for $79. For the most part the mods are no worse than 3rd party extensions of the same design for other phones. Its the Hasselbald, Instashare, and 360 camera that really burn. But, the Instashare is free if you buy a Moto Z2 Force before September which is pretty awesome in it’s own right. Extra bonus in that the projector adds an 1100 mAh battery into the mix. The only downside being it’s a paltry 480p resolution.

I for one am picking up a Z2 via T-Mobile. I like the idea of being able to swap out components to get what I needed. I can have the raw phone, slap on a wireless charging case when I’m at home, switch to a battery pack if I needed the extended life, throw on a projector if I want to do some light duty entertaining, or plug in a beefy speaker or a point & shoot with better optics than what the Z2 has built in. It gives me a ton of flexilibity and so far Motorola is proving that even if you don’t have the latest and greatest model you can still plug in the latest and greatest mods and Moto has a solid track record of updates. Ontop of all that I get an almost Pixel-like Android OS without a bunch of BS software? Heck yes I’ll sign up for that.

I’d entertain the Samsung Galaxy phones but they have so much bloat that I can’t get rid of that drives me nuts plus Touch Wiz which I hate. The OnePlus is great but they also have a track record of terrible update cadence and early deprecation of models because of their lack of updates.

The Moto Z2 Force is a bit over priced especially when factoring the cost of mods. I won’t argue that. But Motorola is standing behind the product by making mods backwards compatible to first gen Mod phones, it has a great track record of updates, it’s pretty vanilla Android with useful software additions, and you get a 4 year warranty on the screen and camera lens thanks to the Shatterproof screen and lens cover.