The Motorola Moto Z & Moto Z Force (Droid Editions) Reviewby Matt Humrick on July 28, 2016 8:00 AM EST
The relationship between Motorola and Verizon dates back to 2009 and the original Motorola Droid smartphone. Since then, the two companies have paired up for a number of Droid branded phones that are either only available from Verizon initially or are slightly tweaked models sold only by Verizon. When Motorola announced that the Moto Z and Moto Z Force will be replacing the Moto X family as the company's flagship devices at Lenovo’s Tech World event in June, it came as no surprise then that both phones would continue the Droid legacy and land exclusively on Verizon’s network first.
Unlocked versions of the Moto Z and Moto Z Force will be available directly from Motorola before the end of the year, but instead of waiting for the general release, we decided to go hands-on with Verizon’s Droid Editions, which use identical hardware.
|Motorola Moto Z Droid Family|
|Moto Z Droid||Moto Z Force Droid|
|SoC||Qualcomm Snapdragon 820
2x Kryo @ 2.15GHz
2x Kryo @ 1.59GHz
Adreno 530 @ 624MHz
|Qualcomm Snapdragon 820
2x Kryo @ 2.15GHz
2x Kryo @ 1.59GHz
Adreno 530 @ 624MHz
|RAM||4GB LPDDR4-3188||4GB LPDDR4-3188|
|NAND||32GB / 64GB (UFS 2.0)
|32GB / 64GB (UFS 2.0)
|Display||5.5-inch 2560x1440 SAMOLED
Corning Gorilla Glass
|5.5-inch 2560x1440 SAMOLED
|Dimensions||153.3 x 75.3 x 5.19 mm
|155.9 x 75.8 x 6.99 mm
|Modem||Qualcomm X12 (Integrated)
2G / 3G / 4G LTE (Category 12/13)
|Qualcomm X12 (Integrated)
2G / 3G / 4G LTE (Category 12/13)
|Front Camera||5MP, 1/4" OmniVision OV5693, 1.4µm pixels, f/2.2, Auto HDR, LED flash||5MP, 1/4" OmniVision OV5693, 1.4µm pixels, f/2.2, Auto HDR, LED flash|
|Rear Camera||13MP, 1/3.06" Sony IMX214 Exmor RS, 1.12µm pixels, f/1.8, Laser AF, OIS, Auto HDR, dual-color LED flash||21MP, 1/2.4" Sony IMX338 Exmor RS, 1.12µm pixels, f/1.8, PDAF + Laser AF, OIS, Auto HDR, dual-color LED flash|
|Connectivity||802.11a/b/g/n/ac 2x2 MIMO, BT 4.1 LE, NFC, GPS/GNSS, USB Type-C, Moto Mods connector||802.11a/b/g/n/ac 2x2 MIMO, BT 4.1 LE, NFC, GPS/GNSS, USB Type-C, Moto Mods connector|
|Launch OS||Android 6.0.1||Android 6.0.1|
|$624 ($26/mo) / $674||$720 ($30/mo) / $770|
Just like we’ve seen with most other flagship phones from this generation, the two Moto Z Droids come with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820 SoC and 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM. Both models have either 32GB or 64GB of UFS 2.0 NAND, although the 64GB option is only available online through Motorola’s Moto Maker website. Internal storage can also be expanded with microSD cards. The Moto Z Droids have wireless connectivity covered with Qualcomm’s latest X12 baseband processor integrated into the SoC, Bluetooth 4.1 LE, NFC, and 802.11ac 2x2 MIMO Wi-Fi.
Unlike the Moto X phones, the Moto Z Droids come with a touch-based fingerprint sensor, a convenient security feature for unlocking the phone, authorizing purchases, and making mobile payments with Android Pay. So far I’ve found the new fingerprint sensor to be very reliable, unlocking the phone extremely quickly regardless of finger position. As with other capacitive sensors, it still has trouble with moisture and large changes in temperature, but its sensitivity to environmental factors is no worse than other solutions.
Neither of the Moto Z Droids support wireless charging, but they do include Motorola’s TurboPower fast-charging technology, which uses the included 15W or 30W chargers to provide up to 8 or 15 hours of battery life in just 15 minutes for the Moto Z Droid and Moto Z Force Droid, respectively, according to Motorola. Another shared feature is a water-repellant nano coating that protects the phones from accidental spills or light rain, but does not provide actual water or dust proofing like Samsung’s IP68 rated Galaxy S7.
While much of the internal hardware is the same, there are a few notable differences between the two models, the most significant being battery size. The Moto Z Droid comes with a 2600mAh battery, which is below the roughly 3000mAh average for phones with 5.5-inch displays. The Moto Z Force Droid bumps battery capacity to 3500mAh, which brings it close to the 3600mAh battery in Samsung’s Galaxy S7 edge. Differences in software and display efficiency will likely determine if the Force Droid can outlast the Galaxy S7 edge.
Both Moto Z Droids have the same 5MP front-facing camera with wide-angle lens that uses a dedicated LED flash and automatic HDR imaging to help capture selfies over a wider range of lighting conditions. The rear cameras both have large f/1.8 apertures and optical image stabilization to improve low-light image quality, but they use different sensors and autofocus systems. The Moto Z Droid includes a 13MP Sony sensor that pairs standard contrast-based autofocus with a laser to improve focus performance in low light. The Moto Z Force Droid uses a more advanced 21MP Sony sensor with deep trench isolation (DTI) technology for improved color fidelity. It also uses a hybrid autofocus system that combines laser, phase detection (PDAF), and contrast detection methods, which should provide faster, more reliable focusing performance in a variety of lighting conditions.
While the Moto Z Droid’s screen is covered edge to edge with Corning Gorilla Glass, the Moto Z Force Droid uses Motorola's second-generation Moto ShatterShield technology, a five-layer system that starts with an aluminum panel as a base to keep the 5.5-inch AMOLED screen from flexing. Two separate touch layers above the display provide redundancy in case one of the layers is damaged. A clear, flexible lens, likely made from a polycarbonate, is next. A second protective lens with a proprietary hardcoat completes the display stack. This assembly improves the screen's resistance to cracking or shattering if dropped, which Motorola backs by a four-year warranty.
The new Moto Z Droids’ specifications and hardware are impressive but not that much different than what’s currently available with other flagships. To make its new phones more enticing, Motorola made them modular. The idea of easily swappable accessories that extend a phone’s functionality shows promise but has not fully materialized—at least not yet. Will Motorola’s Moto Z and its modular accessories, called Moto Mods, prove useful or will they just be another wacky idea that goes nowhere?
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Paraninos23 - Thursday, July 28, 2016 - linkWill the other Snapdragon phones get this updated driver or is it impossible at this point?
Matt Humrick - Thursday, July 28, 2016 - linkBased on past experience, driver updates generally get bundled with major OS upgrades (i.e. Android 5.0 to 6.0), but occasionally an OEM will roll out a driver update in a point release.
RaichuPls - Thursday, July 28, 2016 - linkYo where the GTX 1060 review at? Was said last Friday coupled with RX480 deep dive 2 days later, now a week and nothing?
blzd - Sunday, August 7, 2016 - linkIt will arrive just as soon as you promise to never post that useless drivel here again.
mortimerr - Thursday, July 28, 2016 - linkFirstly, great review. Great depth and information. I'm appalled at the idea that that Moto Z costs as much as a top of the line flagship, but ships with what seems to be a mid range camera, poor ergonomic design and a tiny battery, in a device that's 5.5 1440p. Who in their right mind would want a smaller battery to be forced to get a 60$ battery pack? I get that Motovola wants to make money, but no intelligent consumer would do something so foolish.
The problem is after using the Moto X 2013 I REALLY miss the different Moto features (voice, display, gestures, etc). They work great and are integrated nicely into the stock android system. Although performance looks amazing, these devices just look cumbersome to use day in and day out. You end up having to compromise on so many things (batt life, headphone, carrying around extra bulk) for the benefit of getting something you don't need and have never really needed in a good smartphone.
ayqazi - Thursday, July 28, 2016 - linkAm I missing something? I thought it was the Lenovo Moto Z Force, not Motorola....
Matt Humrick - Thursday, July 28, 2016 - linkMotorola is owned by Lenovo, but it still designs and sells its own line of phones.
ImSpartacus - Thursday, July 28, 2016 - linkThat's interesting. I wonder if temporary.
jhh - Tuesday, August 2, 2016 - linkThere are several pieces of Motorola which spun off from the original. Motorola Solutions is the only independent entity which uses the Motorola name. I expect that Lenovo either doesn't want to keep the Motorola name, or doesn't have permission to use it long term, and hence we get Lenovo Moto. When Lenovo bought the laptops from IBM, they only had permission to use the IBM name for a while, plus they wanted to make Lenovo more prominent.
ImSpartacus - Thursday, July 28, 2016 - linkWhy is the battery life section at the end?
I always like that Anandtech reviews put it front and center. It sounds silly, but battery life is literally my number one priority, so I appreciated that ordering.