Motorola Moto Z3 Breaks Out From The Android Pack With Bleeding-Edge 5G Moto Mod

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Back in late June, we were alerted to a new product announcement on tap for August 2nd from Motorola. Luckily for us, we're here live in Chicago at Motorola HQ today to see what the company has in store for consumers, and it's quite interesting.

The company launched the all-new Moto Z3, which serves as the follow-up to last year's Moto Z2. It has a 6-inch Full HD+ OLED display with an 18:9 aspect ratio that takes up most of the front of the device. There are still notable bezels on the bottom and top, but it at least doesn't mar your viewing experience with a notch (if you’re not into those newfangled notched flagships).

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However, we do have a bit of mixed news on the processing front. Although the Moto Z3 as a flagship Android device, it will be shipping with last year’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor – the same processor used on the Moto Z2. Motorola says that market research showed that consumers would be happy with the performance that the Snapdragon 835 provides and that it allowed the company to meet pricing targets, but with other feature enhancements that will make more of an impact to the consumer. The processor is paired with 4GB of RAM and is only available in a 64GB storage configuration. However, microSD cards are supported up to 512GB.
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There's a fingerprint reader on the side of the device (instead of the front or back) and dual 12MP depth-sensing cameras on the back. The smartphone supports QuickCharge 4.0, which will give you half a day of battery life with just a 30-minute charge. Speaking of the battery, it checks in at 3,000 mAh, which should give you a full day of runtime.

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But the biggest news of the day is perhaps related to 5G connectivity. We don't yet have 5G wireless support coursing throughout the United States just yet, but Motorola is already prepped and ready for when that moment actually happens. In fact, it has teamed up with Verizon Wireless to make this possible. Nicola Palmer, Chief Network Engineer and Head of Wireless Networks for Verizon Wireless said that home 5G wireless service will launch in late 2018, however, 5G mobility service will have to wait until early 2019.

With that being said, Motorola is announcing that it will be the first smartphone manufacturer to offer 5G connectivity. The company will achieve this with the new 5G Moto Mod, which is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X50 5G modem that slaps onto the back of the Moto Z3 smartphone. The mod has its own 2,000 mAh battery incorporated into it, and Motorola is still promising a full day’s worth of battery life with the 5G Moto Mod attached.

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5G Moto Mod
5G Moto Mod BACKSIDE MotoZ3
Motorola 5G Moto Mod

As for performance, Motorola says that production versions of the 5G Moto Mod, which will be available in early 2019, will be able to hit 5Gbps download speeds, and will top out at around 500Mbps uploads. In either case, this is an order of magnitude greater than we’re experiencing on 4G LTE devices.

With this in mind, Motorola’s decision to use the Snapdragon 835 kind of makes sense. After all, if you want the full 5G experience, you’ll not only be paying for the Moto Z3, but also the 5G Moto Mod. Using the Snapdragon 845 would have bumped the price up even further, which could have made the pairing cost-prohibitive to many.

Speaking of pricing, Motorola says that the Moto Z3 will ship on August 16th and will be priced at $480. This will be a Verizon Wireless exclusive, as will the 5G Moto Mod accessory when it launches next year. Unfortunately, Motorola is still working out final details on the device and doesn’t yet have pricing available for us on the mod. Motorola also said that it is currently assessing compatibility with current generation Moto devices (i.e. Moto Z3 Play - and our full review is incoming on that), but executives for the company were noncommittal on extending support to the Moto Z2 family and earlier.