What you’ll love and hate about the new Moto Z Force (and its Moto Mods)

Moto Z Force

Following its refreshed strategy, Motorola today at IFA 2017 unveiled its forthcoming smartphones and accessories. Headlining these devices is the company’s new flagship, the second generation Moto Z Force.

The first device was a marked success for the company, selling three-million units worldwide in its first year. But the new edition, the company states, builds on the promise of the first.

Moto Z Force 2nd Generation in pictures
left right

Moto Z Force 1

Bokeh. Because, bokeh.

Moto Z Force 2

Moto Z Force 3

It's a remarkably thin device, but for a good reason. Moto Mods add quite a bit of heft to the device.

Moto Z Force 360 Camera Mod 1

Moto Z Force 360 Camera Mod 2

Moto Z Force Gamepad Mod 1

Moto Z Force Camera Test 1

Moto Z Force 4

5.5-inches from corner to corner gives the Z Force a smaller but much wider screen than the Galaxy S8.

Moto Z Force 5

How much thinner can smartphones really get?

But is it a novel entry into the crowded flagship smartphone space?

In many ways, yes.

It sports a large (and rather wide) 5.5-inch 2560×1440 display that doesn’t shirk the bezels like its contemporaries. They’re still there. And below the screen lies a recessed, smooth fingerprint reader. It’s an odd little hollow, notably because it’s not quite a button. Instead, Motorola is using it as a navigational tool with swipe recognition in similar vein to Meizu and Huawei.

This functionality isn’t my cup of tea and found that navigating to points on the actual screen is much simpler than swiping across a reader. Mileage might differ for others.

Aesthetically, the Moto Z Force is a treat. It’s stupidly thin — about as thin as the first Moto Z device — but much wider than the current taller flagship devices from Korea.

moto z force gamepad

Those gold Moto Mod pins add texture to the otherwise polished back and do add a greater degree of functionality to the device — a selling point we’ll get into a little later.

The camera hump is also still there, and now sports two camera sensors at its rear for dual 12MP camera snapping and a pile of refocusing gimmicks.

Camera performance — when not faffing about in post — is good. It doesn’t have the dynamic range I crave on a smartphone camera, but it does turn up the saturation quite a bit. In other words, it’s perfect for Instagram and Snapchat, but not as wonderful for avid photographers.

Overall though, I couldn’t quite see the benefit of having to 12MP rear cameras here, especially since refocusing images is more of a chore than a fun side project.

moto z force camera test 1

Above: The 360 Camera Mod, snapped using the 2nd gen Moto Z Force

In terms of performance, you have an octacore Snapdragon 835 at its heart — its beefy cores running in excess of 2.4GHz when required — with an Adreno 540 GPU in tow. This combo gives the Z Force some genuine smartphone gaming savvy.

This is true when bolting on the GamePad Moto Mod, which transforms the device into a portable gaming station.

The Mod largely functions well, extending the phone’s length by around four centimetres on either end with four bumper buttons, a d-pad and an Xbox-like command pad. It’s no more comfortable than Nintendo’s Switch, but don’t expect it to help Motorola compete with the Japanese giant.

For smartphone gamers, it’ll likely be a boon. For others, it’s a fad that’ll probably wear thin sooner rather than later.

But a Mod that could appeal to all has a number in its name. Perhaps the device’s biggest unique selling point is its 360 Camera Mod.

Moto Z Force

Slap it onto the Moto Z Force’s rear plate, and you’ll be gifted with two additional cameras on the phone, one pointing forwards and another backwards. Together, they form a 360-degree camera or video recorder, and it’s probably one of the best quality mobile 360 degree snappers I’ve used.

Notably, this device won’t come bundled with the phone, so you’ll have to fork out an additional US$269 to own one. Harsh, really. But it does simplify the 360 degree video recording process. After all, there’s no need to pair additional devices to the phone.

It functions seamlessly with the device’s onboard camera software too, but doesn’t seem to enjoy being removed while still in use. Or at least, the camera app itself froze on a number of occasions when the Mod was removed.

moto z force 360 camera mod 1

Not into the new Mods? The first generation Moto Z mods will be compatible on the new device too.

Finally, the device also sports an IP68 water and dust resistance rating, and a claimed “shatterproof” display. That’s Motorola’s way of saying that the screen will never crack or shatter when dropped.

The Moto Z Force will retail at US$799 once launched, but further details regarding availability and price will be made available at a later date.

Andy Walker, former editor


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