Mo­torola Moto Z

£529 • mo­

Android Advisor - - Contents -

An­nounced back in June in the US, the Moto Z was launched along­side the Moto Z Force, a phone with a screen that – just like the Moto X Force – is ‘un­break­able’. Mo­torola has no plans to launch this in the UK, but the Moto Z will be ar­riv­ing this side of the pond in mere weeks.


At £529, the Moto Z is un­de­ni­ably ex­pen­sive, es­pe­cially when many peo­ple con­sider most Mo­torola phones to be bud­get or mid-range of­fer­ings. Not so with the Moto Z: this is ev­ery inch a flag­ship phone. It may be cheaper than

the iPhone 6s Plus and Galaxy S7, but it’s £80 more than the Huawei P9 and £100 more than its mod­u­lar ri­val, the LG G5.


Mod­u­lar is the name of the game with the Moto Z. It’s a new fam­ily of 5.5in phones which has a spe­cial 16-pin con­nec­tor on the rear for ac­ces­sories that at­tach with su­per-strong mag­nets. We’ll get to those later.

Pinch and hold the Moto Z be­tween two fin­gers and it feels both amaz­ingly thin and light. It weighs only 136g, so it is ex­cep­tion­ally light for a 5.5in phone, yet feels strong thanks to the air­craft-grade alu­minium frame.

Adding to its flag­ship cre­den­tials is a Snap­dragon 820 pro­ces­sor, 4GB of RAM and well spec­i­fied front- and rear cam­eras.

So what gives? Two things in the main: there isn’t room for a head­phone jack, so there isn’t one. Mo­torola beat Ap­ple in this par­tic­u­lar race-to-the­fu­ture. In the box is a short USB-C cable which ends in the 3.5mm mini­jack you’ll need to use any stan­dard head­phones. Or, you could just hook up some de­cent Blue­tooth head­phones if you have money burn­ing a hole in your pocket.

The other trade-off is a small bat­tery. At 2600mAh, it will get you through a day, but cer­tainly not the two days that’s promised with the Moto Z Play.

No cor­ners are cut on the screen, which is a 5.5in su­per AMOLED with a res­o­lu­tion of 2560x1440. It’s just as good as the Galaxy S7’s, al­though there are no curved screen edges here.

There’s no al­ways-on op­tion, ei­ther. But Mo­torola has in­stalled IR sen­sors which bring up the date and time (plus no­ti­fi­ca­tions and the abil­ity to in­ter­act with them) when you wave your hand over the screen.

Like the Moto Z Play (right in the photo above), there’s a square fin­ger­print reader at the bot­tom of the screen. It’s in­stinc­tive to press it like a home but­ton, but a but­ton this is not. It does work as a way to wake the phone, though, which is handy as the three equally-spaced power and vol­ume but­tons are easy to con­fuse with one an­other.

On the rear the cam­era pro­trudes quite a bit, but a black Moto Shell is sup­plied in the box which – like all other Moto Mods – uses mag­nets to at­tach. This brings ev­ery­thing flush and hides the con­nec­tor from view. But even with­out a Shell, the Moto Z has a pretty at­trac­tive rear thanks to

sub­tle hor­i­zon­tal lines in the metal (these are more vis­i­ble on the white model than the black model shown here). How­ever, both phones are prone to show­ing marks and fin­ger­prints due to their smooth sur­faces. Again, the Moto Z Play is on the right here for com­par­i­son.

Moto Mods

It’s all very well hav­ing the thinnest phone in the world (or, at least, one of them) but this is rather negated once you snap on a Pow­erPack. And you will from time to time as the Moto Z could al­ways do with ex­tra bat­tery life.

There are var­i­ous Pow­erPacks avail­able, in­clud­ing from In­ci­pio and oth­ers. They cost around £60, and can dou­ble the phone’s bat­tery life.

Much more in­ter­est­ing is the newly an­nounced Has­sel­blad True Zoom. This costs £199.99 and was de­vel­oped by Mo­torola and Has­sel­blad to counter the three ‘pain points’ of phone pho­tog­ra­phy. The first is, of course, a zoom. It man­ages to pack in a 10x zoom (25- to 250mm 35mm equiv­a­lent) in a pack­age just 15.1mm thick, and weigh­ing 145g (note that this is more than the Moto Z).

Sec­ond is the abil­ity to shoot in RAW, or RAW+Jpeg if you pre­fer. You can then process im­ages in Adobe Light­room or any other ap­pli­ca­tion which sup­ports the RAW files.

Third is low-light per­for­mance. While it was hard to as­sess dur­ing our short hands-on time with the True Zoom, it sig­nif­i­cantly out­per­formed the Moto Z’s built-in cam­era in low light, pro­duc­ing sharp, al­most grain-free im­ages. We did no­tice that some im­ages were a lit­tle soft to­wards the edges, and

when we re­viewed im­ages ac­tual de­tail lev­els were on a par with the best smart­phone cam­eras, rather than ri­valling a DSLR.

The Sam­sung Galaxy cam­era was the first phone to have a built-in zoom lens, but here you can re­move the cam­era when you don’t need it and use a dif­fer­ent ac­ces­sory.

When at­tached, though, the cam­era and phone work seam­lessly to­gether as one. We like the du­al­stage shut­ter but­ton with a zoom rocker in front of it, and the fact that it has a proper Xenon flash.

The bad news is that, al­though there’s op­ti­cal sta­bil­i­sa­tion, only elec­tronic is used when shoot­ing video. And that video is lim­ited to just 1080p at 30fps – dis­ap­point­ing when the 12Mp sen­sor is plenty for 4K, and the Moto Z (and Z Play) can both shoot 4K us­ing their built-in cam­eras.

An­other fun Moto Mod is the In­sta-Share pro­jec­tor. Again, it lives up to its name by at­tach­ing and pro­ject­ing what­ever is on your phone’s screen. It has a built-in bat­tery and stand, plus auto key­stone cor­rec­tion to give you a square (well, rec­tan­gu­lar) im­age no mat­ter what an­gle you hold or place the phone. All you need to ad­just is fo­cus.

We tried the pro­jec­tor in a fairly well-lit room and found that if you limit the size to around 30in, it’s pos­si­ble to see bright con­tent with­out too many prob­lems. Try­ing to watch a night scene in a video or a dark photo proved near im­pos­si­ble so, as with most pico pro­jec­tors, it’s best used in the dark.

The JBL Sound Boost cer­tainly adds vol­ume com­pared to the Moto Z’s built-in speaker but it’s not as good as the best por­ta­ble Blue­tooth speak­ers you can buy. Still, you won’t have any prob­lems with stut­ter­ing or go­ing out of range as this isn’t a wire­less con­nec­tion, of course.


We haven’t had time to run our usual bench­marks on the Moto Z, but we al­ready know how the Snap­dragon 820 per­forms in other cur­rent flag­ship phones. And it’s no slouch. Ev­ery­thing feels silky smooth – helped no doubt by the ex­cel­lent screen.


The Moto Z has a Cat 6 LTE mo­dem – the Qual­comm X12 built into the Snap­dragon 820. This sup­ports up to 450Mb/s or 600Mb/s on com­pat­i­ble net­works. It has all the other in­gre­di­ents a flag­ship should have: 802.11ac Wi-Fi with 2x2 MU-MIMO, Blue­tooth 4.1, NFC and As­sisted GPS.

The only dis­ap­point­ment is that it’s a sin­gle-SIM model for the UK; you can only get a dual-SIM Moto Z in other coun­tries.


If you’ve al­ready owned a Mo­torola phone, you’ll know that the com­pany sticks closely to Google’s ver­sion of An­droid. It comes with Marsh­mal­low, and is sure to get Nougat at some point soon.

An­droid may look stock, but there are a num­ber of tricks such as be­ing able to dou­ble-chop the phone to turn on and off the LED flash, dou­ble-twist to launch the cam­era app and hover your hand over the screen to quickly see the time and up­dates. There’s also At­ten­tive Dis­play (a fea­ture ab­sent from the Moto Z Play), which keeps the screen from dim­ming or turn­ing off while you’re look­ing at it. This uses the IR sen­sors in con­junc­tion with the cam­era, which could ex­plain why the Play doesn’t have it – it doesn’t have IR sen­sors.

So far, there’s no men­tion of whether the Moto Z (or Moto Z Play) are Day­dream com­pat­i­ble. Day­dream is Google’s new VR head­set and it re­quires phones to meet a cer­tain min­i­mum spec­i­fi­ca­tion.


Our early im­pres­sions of this phone are pos­i­tive. As long as you can deal with the jet­ti­son­ing of the head­phone

jack and the one-day bat­tery, the mod­u­lar na­ture of the Moto Z makes it a com­pelling al­ter­na­tive to other flag­ships. It’s also ar­guably a bet­ter choice than the LG G5 if you want a mod­u­lar phone. How­ever, if your bud­get is more lim­ited, the Moto Z Play is also com­pat­i­ble with Moto Mods and is bet­ter value at well un­der £369.99. Jim Martin


• An­droid 6.0 Marsh­mal­low • 5.5in, 2560x140 su­per AMOLED dis­play, 535ppi

• Qual­comm Snap­dragon 820 chip

• 4GB RAM • 32GB stor­age • Mi­croSD card slot • Fin­ger­print sen­sor • 802.11ac dual band Wi-Fi with MIMO • Blue­tooth 4.1 • A-GPS • NFC • USB-C • 13Mp rear cam­era • 5Mp front cam­era • 4G LTE (Cat 6) • 2600mAh non-re­mov­able bat­tery • 153.3 x 75.3 x 5.19mm • 136g

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