Moto Z And Moto Z Force With Moto Mods Review: Excellent Execution

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Moto Z, Moto Z Force Battery Life And Summary

One of the first questions we had out of the gate, once we saw Motorola's impressive Insta-Projector mod do its thing, was how long would it last when driving standard 1080p movie content. Could it handle a full-length feature film?

League of Legends 10 Hour Video Playback Moto Mod
3 hrs of HD video playback on the Moto Z or Z Force with a fully charged Insta-Projector Mod

The short answer is yes, and with a minimum of 3 hours of video playback to be exact. We were, however, thrown for a loop when testing this device. We were able to only pull 3 hours from it no matter what configuration we tested it in, with the Moto Z Droid (2600 mAh internal battery + Insta-Projector 1100 mAh battery) or with the Moto Z Force (3500 mAh battery + Insta-Projector 1100 mAh battery), and with or without the phone display on. You can shut down the main phone display by hitting the screen lock button and still project whatever app is running, theoretically conserving some battery life. Regardless, however we dialed things in, we were still left with a consistent roughly 3 hours of playback. We're still testing though and time was not on our side for this review, so we'll come back to this at another date if the picture (no pun intended) changes. 

Moto Z And Z Force Battery Life Testing
Heavy Load And Light Workload Testing
To discern how the Moto Z and Moto Z Force Droids compare to other smartphones phones with respect to battery life, we ran them through AnTuTu Tester's Battery test, which is a high-load benchmark that aims to drain the battery in a device as quickly as possible. The test sets the display brightness to high and cranks up workloads for the processor, graphics core, and memory, and runs through a number of real-world scripted workloads as well, including web browsing, gaming and video playback.
AnTuTu Battery Tester

The Moto Z Force Droid offered best-of-class type battery life, falling just shy of the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, but well within the test's margin of error, so we'll call it a virtual tie. With its 3500 mAh battery and OLED display, this was almost to be expected and it proved out in testing. The ultra-thin Moto Z Droid didn't fair as well though, and dropped just into the bottom 50% of our test devices. We will say, however, that in more standard real world usage both devices handled well, with the Moto Z Droid able to function through a full day's worth of mixed mode use on a single charge, while the Moto Z Force Droid had room to burn and never seemed to be low on battery life.

Unfortunately, running the Moto Z Droid through this test with the Incipio OffGrid Power Pack mod attached, was not an option, since the way it recharges the phone kept resetting the test. However, you could expect nearly double the performance with the Power Pack mod attached, adding another 2220 mAh battery to the mix to complement the Moto Z Droid's 2600 mAh on-board battery. Regardless, heavy users may find the standard Moto Z Droid a little light on battery life, but mainstream casual users should get by. Standby time is also excellent with both devices. Android Marshmallow's deeper Doze and app standby low power states really help the Moto Z Droid duo extend their legs. 

Our Summary And Conclusion

The Moto Z Droid and Moto Z Force Droid are compelling new Android flagships in a tight pack of very competitive recent releases, including Samsung's Galaxy S7 series, the HTC 10, and the Google Nexus 6P. General performance across our litany of benchmarks with these new Moto devices proved very strong, in most cases edging-out the top spot from the Samsung Galaxy S7 and HTC 10. We'd chalk this up to Motorola's clean, unadulterated Android 6 configuration and tight optimizations between hardware and software. At every turn, the new Moto Z Droids handle silky smooth and also feel and look great doing it.  
Moto Z Droid Edition Front and Back
Moto Z Droid - Find It At Amazon

The Moto Z Droid is a very tight, super-thin device (thinner than the Galaxy S7 Edge) that doesn't sacrifice quality, design aesthetics or robustness in an effort to shave millimeters. The camera on the device is competitive, though perhaps a short step behind the likes of the Galaxy S7 series in terms of lighting and focal responsiveness. Its fingerprint sensor and Moto Display lock screen notifications options, however, are generally better implementations of these features versus Samsung's top gun. Where the Moto Z Droid really stands out though is with Moto Mods and the range of current and future capabilities users can snap on to the back of the device in a matter of seconds. Even just the tight integration of the Incipio Power Pack can transform it into a battery life champion, though admittedly doubling its thickness in the process. At $624 off contract or $26/month at Verizon, the Moto Z Droid is a powerful, capable Android phone with a gorgeous display and diverse expansion options that no other smartphone on the market (except for the Moto Z Force) can currently offer. 

Moto Z Force 1080
Moto Z Force Droid - Find It At Amazon

The same holds true for the Moto Z Force Droid, and though its thicker and tougher than the Moto Z, it still manages to squeak in slightly thinner than the rival Galaxy S7 Edge, at least with its filler backplate off. Admittedly, both phones feel like they need their backplates on to protect the camera bump and their Moto Mod contacts as well, when not in use.

Regardless, though the Moto Z Force's ShatterShield-strapped AMOLED display doesn't offer quite the viewing angles of the Moto Z (or GS7E), if you're a butterfinger-type, its more than up for the challenges of your occasional abuse, and that could literally be a life saver down the road. Performance and battery life with the Z Force Droid can be consider best-of-class level as well, and its 21MP camera is right there with some of the best shooters on the market. At $720 off contract ($30/month on a Verizon plan) it does weigh in at roughly a $70 premium over its closest competitor, the Galaxy S7 Edge, at $650 off contract. That said, there are number of pluses here for the Z Force Droid that help justify its premium, including its shatterproof display, USB-C connectivity and of course Moto Mod expansion, as well as future Moto Mods like the dock concept mod we saw at Lenovo Tech World, which turned the phones into virtual mini desktops. 

A downside, however, might be carrier choice (or lack thereof) with the Moto Z Force Droid. Unfortunately it will remain a Verizon exclusive indefinitely, though the Moto Z Droid will be available in the fall unlocked. We could see Motorola and Lenovo releasing an unlocked equivalent to the Moto Z Force Droid down the road possibly, but that's not something we have visibility on today.

But wow, are we impressed with Moto Mods; there's just no two ways about it. Motorola and Lenovo's design implementation is fantastic and the Moto Mods we tested worked flawlessly, well beyond what we expected in terms of quality and functionality. Team Lenovo-Moto should be commended for delivering true innovation in the smartphone arena. These days, with the relentless pace of the technologies involved, that's not so easy to accomplish, but Moto Mods deliver today and offer a path for future expansion that is truly unique to the Moto brand.  

Motorola Moto Z Droid And Moto Z Force Droid
 hot  not
  • Premium thin and light designs
  • Great AMOLED Displays (Shatterpoof Moto Z Force)
  • Excellent Class-Leading Performance
  • Good (Moto Z) To Excellent (Moto Z Force) Cameras 
  • Strong Battery Life (Moto Z Force)
  • Moto Mods Rock
  • Great Fingerprint Scanners
  • Pricey
  • Middling Battery Life (Moto Z Droid)
  • Limited Carrier Availability (Z Force Verizon Exclusive)

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