Moto Z3 Review: Proven Hardware Chasing A 5G Future

Moto Z3 Review: Software, 5G Moto Mod, And Camera

If you’ve read our review of last year’s Moto Z2 Force and our most recent review of the Moto Z3 Play, then you’re going to be quite familiar with the tweaks that Motorola has introduced to Android 8.1 Oreo with Moto Actions, Moto Display, and Moto Voice controls. We won’t spend time rehashing those features, but will point you back to those recent reviews -- please check them out if you'd like more details on the software configuration of this device.

5G Moto Mod

As we pointed out in our hands-on preview of the Moto Z3, Motorola will make available a 5G Moto Mod starting early in 2019. If all goes according to plan, the Moto Z3 will be the first smartphone on the planet with 5G capabilities, albeit not natively. The 5G Moto Mod incorporates its own battery pack and will only connect with Verizon’s 5G wireless network. It incorporates both a Qualcomm Snapdragon X50 5G modem and four antennas to ensure that a good signal lock can be achieved from any direction (and irrespective of hand placement).

Motorola says that production versions of the 5G Moto Mod 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 what we’re experiencing on 4G LTE devices. Motorola hasn’t announced pricing for the 5G Moto Mod at this time, but we expect to hear details closer to launch.

motorola moto z3 rear cameras 2

Like the Moto Z2 Force and Moto Z3 Play that came before it, the Moto Z2 has a dual camera setup on the back. In this case, there’s a 12MP shooter with f/2.0 lens backed up by a 12MP depth-sensing camera. This depth sensing setup can provide some bokeh effects in Portrait mode, but in our testing, they weren’t as strong as you’d see in comparable images from an Apple iPhone 8/X or Samsung Galaxy S9/S9+. In addition, we sometimes found artifacts around the subject (i.e. along the outline of a person’s head, as you can see in the Portrait mode shots of my son below) more often than not (as we also noted in our Moto Z3 Play review).

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wolfpack tarheel stew
There's nothing quite like Tarheel Stew to warm you up on a cold day.

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noah portrait
There is a bit of artifacting around the head in these two Portrait shots of my 6-year-old

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HDR shots turned out quite pleasing to our eyes in these shots taken near the NC coast.

A sample of the Moto Z3's 1080/30 video output on an overcast day

Above are some sample pictures obtained with the Moto Z3 during our time with the device along with a video sample so you can better form your own opinion on their quality.

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