Homer Simpson could do the perfect ad for the Moto Z: Mmmmmmmoto Zzzzzzzzz. Yes, the Moto Z — and it’s slightly thicker and much sturdier big brother, the Moto Z Force — certainly seem drool-worthy. If you’re interested in looking into the Moto Z this article is going to save you A LOT of time. Several first impressions of the Moto Z have already hit the internet and I’ve thoroughly pored over the ones that matter to spotting trends and connecting the dots. You’re now reading the result of my research: a mega first impression article that compresses everything top reviewers with early access to the device as observed so far (you’re welcome).
Just in case you don’t already know, the Moto Z and the slightly thicker and sturdier Z Force are Motorola’s newest flagship smartphones. The big deal with these phones is that they’re modular: you can snap on an extra battery pack, speaker, styled shell or even a mini-projector! Since the (reputable) in-depth Moto Z reviews won’t be out for a while, we’ll have to make due with first impressions — but there’s plenty to glean about Motorola’s best new phones already as you’re about to see.
Let’s start with the Moto Z’s modularity. The sources I combed through seemed to feel that this was the best modular smartphone implementation we’re likely to see until Google’s Project Ara finally hits the market. Why? Unmatched customization potential (the keyword there is potential; it remains to be seen what mods developers and partners will make for the Moto Z and how cool and/or useful they are).
One thing I can tell you right off the bat is that every reviewer I’ve seen so far unequivocally agrees that the modularity of the Moto Z is better than that of the LG G5 (it’s closest rival, perhaps — I’ll talk more about that below). The main reason seems to be simplicity; early reviewers felt that it was far easier to use modules with the Moto Z vs the LG G5. You don’t have to restart the phone, for instance, and you also don’t have to take the phone partially apart.
You might be wondering whether or not the mods that snap onto the back of the Moto Z and Moto Z Force will come loose or whether there’s any possibility that they might fall off. Well the answer seems to be no at this point (although I did find that one early reviewer said they found the smallest wiggle on one mod though they said it wasn’t a big deal at all). Since another reviewer tried shaking a mod free without success, I think it’s pretty safe to assume the mods are going to be pretty snug.
Sifting through all of the first impression articles and videos one thing became pretty clear to me: there’s a feeling that Motorola did a superb job making people feel like they needed to buy a mod to go with the phone from the get-go if for no other reason than to cover up the connector and giant camera hump on the back of the naked Moto Z. Several people said that they felt there was a sense of having an unfinished phone otherwise.
It actually wasn’t super clear which mods reviewers thought were cool and useful and which ones they didn’t; it was really split down the middle. But one thing everyone could agree on was that the mods added some considerable bulk to the otherwise super-slim phone (with the possible exception of the style shells). ‘
Especially disputed was the Insta-Share projector mod which The Next Web called “surprisingly pocketable” while Android Police said it was “hilariously big.”
Moving onto the design, reviewers really seemed to be wowed by 2 things: the thinness of the phone without any mods and the largeness of the camera hump. Overall, of the influential blogs and journalists whose opinions and impressions I sifted through I’d say about 85% seemed to really like the overall design of the Moto Z. But one glaring feature almost all of them mentioned was the huge bottom bezel (which they wished protruded much less). And all reviewers remarked on how incredibly thin the Moto Z was (with one even calling it “freakishly thin”).
Here are some other pros and cons I picked up on:
- It’s very thin
- Even though it’s so thin — and despite being modular — it doesn’t fall behind competing phones; in fact it basically has the same internals as the LG G5, HTC 10, Asus Zenfone 3 and the Samsung Galaxy S7
- Multiple reviewers were happy that the Moto Z is running nearly stock Android
- Several people liked the Active Display which lets you wake the phone without touching it (which we saw back on the Moto X)
- It seemed like reviewers were pleased with the default camera app saying it was easy to use even though one reviewer couldn’t notice the different between the photo quality of the Moto Z and the Z Force (even though the Force has a camera with much higher specs)
- Without a doubt the shatterproof display on the Z Force is a fan favorite
- As is the micro SD card for expandable storage
- And people seemed to like the Quad HD OLED display which shows bright and vibrant colors and has good viewing angles
- But I saw plenty of cons popping up over and over again
- First there’s no headphone jack — there’s just 1 USB C port and you have to use an adapter for wired headphones (and even the thicker Z Force doesn’t have a 3.5 mm headphone jack
- And then there’s the camera hump; it’s huge and nobody likes it — and it’s big enough that the phone rocks when typing on a flat surface
- Every single reviewer mentioned the horrible amount of Verizon bloatware that comes pre-installed
- as well as the drawback that this phone is only available to Verizon customers in the US at launch
- Several reviewers wondered why the fingerprint scanner wasn’t a home button
- as well as just how many fingerprint show up on the back of the phone without any mods
- Several reviewers also said the buttons on the side of the phone were super awkwardly placed and way to small
The initial thoughts on the Moto Z and Moto Z Force are really positive. Of course we will have to wait awhile for full reviews to roll out so we can see how the battery life is and what it is like living with this phone day to day. Personally I’m pretty excited about this phone: all signs point to it being the LG G5 done right (or better). If you’re looking for the best Android phone of 2016 (and certainly the best modular phone) you’ve got to take a good hard look at the Moto Z — it’s an ultra-thin, ultra-compelling flagship that might just end up changing the entire smartphone landscape.