The Good The power of the Moto Z2 is really subtle, with a fast processor and a long battery life. It can survive drops without breaking. The new dual rear cameras have some cool features that we haven’t seen before.
The Bad This is a really high price for a phone that doesn’t do anything extremely new or exciting. Modular accessories are sometimes fun, but usually not worth the hassle. There is also no headphone jack, and it is more splash-proof than waterproof.
The Bottom Line Motorola’s powerful sequel to Motorola has great features and solid design, but the competition in this price range is about to get tough.
The Moto Z3 Play is the real thing we’ve been working on! It arrives this summer for $ 499 with an extra battery.
The Moto Z2 Force ($ 329 on Amazon) this is a really good phone and it has nothing to do with its mods.
Thin? Verify. Powerful? Verify. Flexible? Verify. Sturdy? Verify.
Phone to beat? Hard to say.
Motorola’s newest premium phone, the Moto Z2 Force, is coming at an amazing time. The biggest and best phone of the year is right around the corner, most likely Samsung Galaxy Note 8 , the next iPhone (or iPhone) and expected Google Pixel 2 .
Meet the drop-resistant Moto Z2 Force and its crazy mods
Where does the strength of Z2 leave it? The continuation of last year’s Z and Z Force phones is slim, with a clear design and very good features. There are a number of important ways – processor, camera and display – to step up from the excellent midrange Moto Z2 Play . And that adds Motorola’s ShatterShield, smash-resistant, a feature that was previously exclusive to Verizon Z Force .
It is also compatible with Motorola MotoMods, an idea that seemed bold last year but now feels like it is stepping on the water as the idea of modular phones has shifted to a niche state on specialist phones like Essential and Red’s Hydrogen .
Forget about mods, just focus on your phone. The power of the Moto Z2 is superb. But this is not a bargain. Starting at a whopping $ 730, this is a premium phone and will soon get a lot of competition.
Are you waiting? I would.
This non-destructive display does not mean scratch resistance
“ShatterShield” sounds like “shockproof”, but in reality it means “it won’t break if you accidentally lower it from 4 or 5 feet”. I threw the Z2 Force several times at the concrete face first. It survived, but it doesn’t look pretty. The aluminum housing was very faded and some parts of the display were damaged. We did equal deeper drop-test : and the results were in line with my experience. In this regard, we will agree that the screen is effectively cracked in all but the most alien conditions.
Also Z2 forces do not have water resistance. Its nano coating is meant to survive splashes, but it’s not as convenient as many phones now, including the iPhone 7 ($ 170 at Walmart) and Samsung Galaxy S8 ($ 500 on best purchase) .
Dual camera means new features
Two 12MP rear cameras are Motorola’s first dual camera set to join iPhone 7 Plus , LG G6 , OnePlus 5 and other. Several new features are on board. One of the two cameras is monochrome, one color. More black and white mode requires better black and white photos. The shots looked great, but I never had a problem shooting black and white with the filter. The camera and black-and-white color mix are more impressive, but again, to be honest, you could just use an app with the same effect.
The new depth mode mimics this popular bokeh effect, but the results I got ranged from acceptable to too artificial.
The quality of the camera nowadays, using it so far, seemed good, but not always great. I had problems with autofocus and low light performance was not stellar. Additional controls on manual focus, white balance, shutter speed, ISO and exposure compensation help.
Also, the built-in deep edit mode allows you to perform some neat but coarse focuses. Depth-adjusted photos can be edited for different focus and off-focus settings. You can also save the foreground color and turn the background black and white or vice versa. Or, replace the background of the photo with something other than Photoshop. My attempt to move myself to a nearby cafe background looked pretty bad (the camera didn’t solve my outline; see above).
Clean design, clean software
The strength of the Z2 feels thinner than most other phones. It’s as thin as the iPhone 7, and its case is comfortable to hold. I’m also a fan of the front fingerprint sensor, which also has some up navigation features. It can almost replace the navigation buttons on Android displays. Not completely, but almost.
But the back of the Z2 Force still looks strangely nude: the dual camera pops out of the circular body, and the gold-studded studs behind the MotoMods line at the back of the phone, like an open 80’s game cartridge. The back panel features (by the way, not included) make the phone look much fuller.
The clean look extends to Motorola software, which retains a rather nasty version of Android 7.1.1. Moto’s own tools are very useful: from quick gestures and displaying shortcuts to a voice command called “Show Me” that bypasses the need to say “Ok Google” for key assistant requests.
The front fingerprint sensor is not technically a home button, but it quickly helps to unlock the phone, put it to sleep, or slide your finger a little.
With its Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, we got the results of Geekbench 4 and Ice Storm Unlimited, which hit the same territory as the HTC U11 ($ 562 at Walmart) and OnePlus 5 – and had better hair than the Samsung Galaxy S8. It’s much faster than Moto Z2 Play on paper: 40,167 in 3D Mark Ice Storm Unlimited, and 1,907 (single) and 6,472 (multi) on Geekbench 4.
The OLED Quad HD display also means that it is compatible with Google Daydream for VR applications. It’s a fast fast phone.
Good battery life even without a rechargeable battery
Despite its subtlety, the Z2’s power lasted 16 hours and 42 minutes on battery test, which is only 18 minutes less than the Moto Z2 Play. This is better than 16 hours of battery life Samsung Galaxy S8 on the same test. This is one of the best battery features on the last phone. And you can always add a MotoMod battery pack (too many) if you want an extra boost.
I’m glad it doesn’t need that much acceleration, because it is painful that the Z2’s forces are thinner and have reduced overall battery capacity. It was part of the appeal of the phone a year ago, and now, downloading it for accessories sold separately also means raising additional money for your potential purchase of the Moto Z2 Force.
Modi: Not yet, basically
Motorola’s investment in modular accessories remains experimental. I still don’t find that I use them much. The latest Mod, a 360-degree camera , costs a whopping $ 300 over the cost of the phone. It’s great to use: I easily added it and started taking decent 360-degree photos and videos. Do I need it? Absolutely not. And there are fashionable 360-degree cameras that you could buy instead.
Other Motorola mods include a crazy mini projector, a camera lens that magnifies the image, rear covers of fashion design, future game controllers, a JBL rack speaker, and a battery ship. Sometimes they are interesting, but I don’t think I would buy more than a novelty. And where would I still store all these mods? Projector mods are being given out for a limited time (until September 9) as a bonus, which is a good freebie … but I’m still not selling modular phones for the future. Not these types of mods, at least.
It’s still a great phone
Add processor enhancements, battery life, compact size and decent camera quality, and the Moto Z2 Force is a great phone. But it is also expensive. At about $ 730, it is in the premium area. Samsung’s next big phone, the Note 8, is just around the corner. So is the next iPhone. And the next LG phone. And the next Google phone. When the dust settles, the strength of the Z2 can still be a great choice. But that’s great if. The less expensive Z2 Play is probably more profitable, but the Z2 power is the best phone.
Specifications of Moto Z2 Force compared to Galaxy S8, LG G6, HTC U11
|Motorola Moto Z2 Force||Samsung Galaxy S8||LG G6||HTC U11|
|Display size, resolution||5.5-inch; 2,560×1,440 with ShatterShield||5.8-inch; 2960×1440 pixels||5.7-inch, 2,880×1,440 pixels||5.5-inch; 2,560×1,440 pixels|
|Dimensions (inches)||6.1x3x0.24 in.||5.9×2.9×0.31 in.||5.9×2.8×0.31 in.||6.1x3x0.31 in.|
|Dimensions (millimeters)||156x76x6 mm||148.9×68.1×8 mm||148.9×71.97.x7.9 mm||154x76x7.9 mm|
|Weight (ounces, grams)||5 oz.; 143g||5.5 oz.; 155g||5.7 oz., 162g||6 oz.; 169g|
|Mobile software||Android 7.1.1 Nougat||Android 7.0 Nougat||Android 7.0 Nougat||Android 7.1.1 Nougat|
|Camera||Dual 12-megapixel||12-megapixel||13-megapixel (standard), 13-megapixel (wide)||12-megapixel|
|Processor||2.35GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835||Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (2.35GHz+1.9GHz) or Octa-core Samsung Exynos 8895 (2.35GHz+1.7GHz)||2.35GHz Snapdragon 821 with Adreno 530 GPU||Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (2.4GHz+1.9GHz)|
|Storage||64GB, 128GB (varies)||64GB||32GB||64GB, 128GB (varies by region)|
|RAM||4GB, 6GB (varies)||4GB||4GB||4GB, 6GB (varies by region)|
|Expandable storage||Up to 2TB||Up to 2TB||Up to 2TB||Up to 2TB|
|Fingerprint sensor||Bottom of front face||Back cover||Back cover||Home button|
|Special features||Splash-resistant; Gigabit LTE-ready||Water-resistant (IP68); wireless charging; Gigabit LTE-ready||18:9 aspect ratio; wireless charging (US only); water-resistant||IP67, dual SIM (some regions)|
|Price off-contract (USD)||$730-$810, depending on carrier||AT&T: $750; Verizon: $720; T-Mobile: $750; Sprint: $750; US Cellular: $675||AT&T: $720, Verizon: $672 T-Mobile: $650, Sprint: $708, US Cellular: $598||$649|
|Price (GBP)||Converts to about £615||£689||£649||£679|
|Price (AUD)||Converts to about AU$1,000||AU$1,199||AU$1,008||$AU999|