Motorola Moto Z Force Droid Edition – Review

It’s All About the Magnets

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Vloggers and Instagrammers will be pleased with the Z’s 21 MP rear-facing camera that takes seriously detailed pictures, even in low light, thanks to laser auto focusing and optical image stabilization. The rear camera can also take 1080p HD video at 60 frames per second and 4K video at 30 frames per second, with an option to record slow motion video. The 5 MP front-facing camera has a dedicated flash as well as a wide-angle lens for great selfies. But even the phone’s excellent onboard camera was overshadowed by the Hasselblad True Zoom Moto Mod, which had me with my mouth open as I shot some photos.

While I initially scoffed at its $299 price tag, the True Zoom is an impressive piece of hardware. In addition to the 12 MP resolution (and 1080p HD video at 30 fps) the mod performs admirably with its 10x optical zoom and RAW image format option. Many serious photographers would feel comfortable leaving their DSLRs at home in lieu of the mod.

The Moto Insta‑Share Projector is one of the few devices I’ve brought out at parties to show off to friends and family. Portable projectors aren’t anything new (we’ve reviewed several of them in these pages), but the simplicity of the Insta-Share projector is unquestionable. In seconds, it projects the contents of the phone’s screen, laser-focused and distortion-corrected to fit onto any surface, even if the projector is positioned at an angle to it.  The mod’s one-hour battery is charged via USB-C and, when exhausted it will draw power from the Moto Z. With the powerful dual front-facing speakers, I felt that I had a 70” Netflix machine in my pocket wherever I went.

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The convenience of being able to “transform the phone in a snap” is certainly easier than struggling with cables and wireless settings, although all of the Mods add to the thickness of the phone.

There are a couple caveats to the Z and Moto Mods. To keep the phone as slim as possible, the company opted to omit the headphone jack, a move that Apple implemented with the iPhone 7. While a USB-C to 3.5 mm audio adapter is bundled with the phone, it’s clear that Motorola (and Apple) envision a wireless audio experience via Bluetooth. The Moto Z Force Droid Edition is a Verizon exclusive device; its brothers, the Moto Z and Moto Z Play, are available unlocked, and while these devices are thinner, they have reduced specs, battery life, and camera quality and their displays aren’t touted as being unbreakable.

All of the fun Moto features we’ve come to love with past Moto X phones, from Active Display to Moto Actions, area here to stay, yet Lenovo is pushing the Motorola brand even further with Moto Mods.  Time will tell whether mods will set a new standard or become another chapter in smartphone gimmickry.

BOTTOM LINE

Overall, the Moto Z is a joy to use.  The battery life is excellent and the camera is downright impressive. The lack of a headphone jack is an annoyance, as is the semi-useless unlock button, but armed with Bluetooth headphones and the adapter, I quickly learned to live without the former. The most refreshing aspect of the Z Force Droid Edition is being able to carry the device sans case, with no concerns about breaking the display. The biggest drawback is the phone’s Verizon exclusivity. Customers of alternate providers will be relegated to the non- Force Moto Z, which Motorola claims to be the world’s thinnest smartphone.

Available on Motorola’s website.

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