Tech Review: Moto Z Droid on Verizon

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The world of smartphone innovation has slowed down over the past few years.  After all, there are only so many new features you can cram into a phone.  Right?  Well, I gotta hand it to Motorola, they have created a new smartphone that sticks out from the crowd for its' size and modular add-ons.  I had a few days to test out the new Moto Z Droid on Verizon Wireless.

Hardware

Thin.  Insanely thin!  That's how I would describe the Z.  Until you hold it, you can't even imagine how thin they made this thing.  They didn't skimp on the specs either.  It has the latest quad-core snapdragon processor, 32GB of storage, a 5.5" screen, a fingerprint scanner and a 30-hour battery!  The camera is 13MP.  It's not the highest Megapixel camera on the market but it takes great pictures and video.  I personally don't think we need 21 Megapixels.  I'll take quality over quantity any day of the week.

20160812_070424The Z does have quick charging so you can juice up the battery in a matter of minutes, not hours.  If I'm being picky, I wish it had wireless charging.  Previous Moto Droids have included wireless charging and it's a feature I have learned to love.  Perhaps I'm the only one?  None the less, I miss it in the Z.

On the back there is a camera hump that sticks out and metal contacts toward the bottom.  Those contacts are for the modular add-ons called Moto Mods.

 

20160812_070748Moto Mods

Motorola jumping into the world of modular smartphone add-ons.  Moto Mods magnetically attacked to the back of the Moto Z.  You'll never be nervous that a Mod is going to pop off, the magnetic connection is super strong.  Right now there are only a few Mods available.  I tested out the Moto Insta-Share Projector ($300) and the JBL SoundBoost Speaker ($80).  Both world exactly as promised.  Once you attach the Mod the phone instantly recognizes it.  The project was bright enough for a dark room but hard to use in a room with regular lighting.  The SoundBoost instantly sends audio from the phone through the JBL speakers.  It sounds good and gets pretty loud.  There are much better bluetooth speakers available (Ultimate Ears are my favorite) but for $80 and the connivence of attaching to the back of your phone, I like this Moto Mod.

In the end, Moto Mods are cool but what's really cool is where this could go next.  I like the speaker and projector but I can't wait to see what they'll do next.

What I'd change

The camera bump stinks.  It sticks out WAY too far and I'm worried the lens will get scratched too easily since it sits flat on the table when you set the phone down.   They do give you one free Moto Mod back when you buy the phone. The included back is wood but you can pick leather or fabric backs too.  They connect via the Moto Mod magnetic connection and don't do anything except add a fun color or texture to the back of your phone.  This makes the phone a bit thicker, thick enough to get rid of the camera bump.

20160812_070513The fingerprint sensor is not a button.  I found this to be odd.  On the iPhone and Galaxy S7 the fingerprint sensor is also the home button.  It works and feels natural.  On the Moto Z the home button is on the screen, directly above the fingerprint sensor.  I found myself trying to push the fingerprint sensor when I wanted to hit the home button.  I'm sure I would get used to it but it seemed like an odd design to me.

Conclusion

The Moto Z Droid is slick!  It's amazingly thin and packs in the latest and greatest smartphone specs.  The Moto Mod idea is cool and shows a lot of promise.  I'd put the Moto Z Droid in my top 3 smartphones on the market right now.  If a 5.5" screen is on your list, the Moto Z Droid is a phone to take a good hard look at it.

The Moto Z Droid is $624 from Verizon Wireless.