Moto Z2 Force Review: Shatterproof, Modular Android

Moto Z2 Force Review: Introduction

Last year’s release of the Moto Z family of phones introduced the world to Mods – magnetic accessory attachments that added features to the phones, like higher-quality speakers, a portable projector, or optical zoom camera. However, the US release of the Moto Z was limited to Verizon and unlocked customers only. This year Motorola is back with the new Z2 Force, packing support for the same Mods, but launching on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon. While the latest Moto Z2 Force has all the makings of a flagship smartphone with its Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, Super AMOLED display, and dual rear camera setup, it’s up against some fierce competition from the likes of Samsung, LG, HTC, Huawei and OnePlus.

Moto Z2 Force front display area

Then again, the Moto Z2 Force is Motorola's latest and greatest ruggedized device, built to take abuse, so it's worth a serious look. We spent a couple weeks with it, specifically the T-Mobile and Verizon variants, to get a good feel for the new Moto. Does it have what it takes to earn your hard-earned dollars? Join us as we put the Moto Z2 Force through its paces in an array of benchmarks and experiential testing....

Motorola Moto Z2 Force
Specifications & Features
Display 5.5" Quad HD 1440p (1440x2560) Super AMOLED
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 - 2.35 GHz Dual Quad-Core big.Little
Dimensions 76 x 155.7 x 6.1mm
SIM/Expansion Nano SIM, micro SD
Protection Shattershield Screen
Water-repellent nanocoating (spill resistant)
GPU Adreno 540
OS Android 7.1.1 Nougat with Google Assistant & Moto Voice
Storage 64GB - microSD up to 2TB
Cameras Rear camera: Dual 12MP IMX 386 sensors - 1 Bayer, 1 Clear
F/2.0 lens, phase detection auto focus (PDAF), laser auto focus
Color correlated temperature (CCT) dual LED flash
480p (30fps), 720p (240 fps), 1080p (120 fps), 4K (30 fps) video capture

Front camera: 5MP
F/2.2, wide-angle 85-degree FOV lens
Flash, auto night mode, beautification software
Networking 802.11a/b/g/n/ac 2.4 GHz + 5 GHz MIMO
Bluetooth 4.2 (5.0 compatible after Oreo update)
Sensors Fingerprint, accelerometer, ambient light, gyroscope, magnetometer, barometer, proximity, ultrasonic, audio monitor
Power 2730 mAh non-removable battery
Expandable via Moto Mods
TurboPower quick-charging 
Audio Included USB-C to 3.5mm dongle
Super black, Fine Gold, Lunar Grey (T-Mobile exclusive)
Price $720 as tested and carrier unlocked

Pricing for the Moto Z2 Force is a complicated matter due to specific carrier and Motorola promos. Motorola sells all carrier and unlocked variants for $720 with the option of 0% financing for up to 24 months. The prices vary from $730 to $820 if you purchase the phone directly from your carrier. Motorola also has a promotion that throws in a free Moto Insta-Share projector mod with the purchase of the Z2 Force, which retails for $299. Sprint and T-Mobile customers receive the best deal with a buy one get one free promotion, which provides the rebate as a prepaid MasterCard and qualifies you for the free Insta-Share mod, too.

Black, gold, and gray color options are available, depending on your wireless carrier. Motorola includes a USB-C to headphone adapter, USB-C to A cable and turbo charger, but does not include earbuds or a style cover (more on that later). However, if you’re an accessory junkie, all the Moto Mods released last year are compatible with the Z2 Force. There’s even a new 4K 360-degree camera and Game Pad mod so you can capture 360 videos or use the Z2 Force as a portable gaming device.

Moto Z2F 360 back

All carrier variants are powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC, which is the same SoC in the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+. The US versions only have 4GB of RAM while the rest of the world gets a bump to 6GB. There’s only one storage configuration of 64GB for most of the world, though China gets a 128GB variant. MicroSD storage expansion is supported with capacities up to a theoretical capacity of 2TB.

The screen is where the Moto Z2 Force strays from its competition. While the 5.5-inch Super AMOLED display with a 16:9 aspect ratio QHD (1440x2560) is in-line with other high-end phones, the Z2 Force sports the latest Moto ShatterShield screen that Motorola claims won’t crack or shatter. However, the plastic screen scratches very easily. We haven’t dropped the Z2 Force, yet the screen already has a few lightly visible scratches.

But before we dive too deeply into the screen, let’s check out the rest of the goods…

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