Review: Motorola Moto Z smart phone
4.7Overall Score

Price (RRP): $999
Manufacturer: Motorola

The Motorola Moto Z is the company’s premium smart phone model. And a fine phone it is, too, all by itself. But it turns out to be, with the addition of a number of options, the most versatile phone yet.

Features

Before getting to those options, let’s look at the basic phone itself, although “basic” would seem to be an inappropriate word in the context of this phone. For example, the Moto Z is, according to the company, “the world’s thinnest premium smartphone ever” at 5.2mm thick. Technically it’s thicker than that because of the camera bump. My Vernier callipers indicate that it’s 7.2mm thick there.

Thin indeed!

Nonetheless, the great bulk of the body is not just thin, but obviously thin to the eye. Motorola says that it is made from “military aircraft-grade aluminum and stainless steel”, but even so I wasn’t willing to put it to the bend test in my back pocket. Phones ought to be treated with reasonable respect.

In just about every way this phone is specced up. Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor running at up to 1.8GHz? For sure. But with 4GB RAM instead of the frequently used 3GB to ensure plenty of speed. Built in storage of 64GB instead of the more common 32GB provided for a phone with expandable memory. The expansion supports up to two terabytes on microSD (if and when such high capacities become available).

The Corning Gorilla Glass (version not specified) covers a five and half inch QuadHD (1440 by 2560 pixel) display which uses AMOLED technology.

Moto Z camera with Incipio offGRID Power Pack in place

The rear camera is a 13 megapixel unit with f/1.8 maximum aperture. It features optical image stabilisation, laser auto focus and a dual LED “Colour Correlated Temperature” flash. The camera can be invoked from lock mode by twisting the camera twice. If operating, another double flick of the wrist switches it to the front 5MP f/2.2 camera. The front camera has its own flash, rather than relying on the screen to light the subject.

The rear camera also supports video up to 4K at 30fps, and 1080p at 60fps.

The Bluetooth is version 4.1 LE and there’s NFC support. WiFi is dual band ac with MIMO. There’s every sensor imaginable (I exaggerate only slightly), including a fingerprint sensor. There are four microphones, which I imagine serves some useful purpose. The “loudspeaker” is “front-ported”, which had me looking for a bass reflex port until I realised that they were just talking about where the sound comes out.

The wired interface is USB Type-C and there is no 3.5mm headphone/socket connection. Instead there’s a tiny DAC for the USB Type-C socket, somewhat like that supplied with the iPhone 7, so that you can use wired headphones/earphones. This is kind of understandable given the 5.2mm body thickness.

There are four physical control buttons. Two for the volume are on the right side, with the power key below them. Then there’s a fourth at the bottom front and it is on this that the fingerprint sensor is located. Pretty soon I started to ignore the side power key – aside from using it with the down volume button to take screen shots. The bottom front key with the integrated fingerprint sensor, made for quick, one touch switching on and off and seemed to be utterly reliable.

The gold plated contacts for the Moto Mods

Note, this is not the Android home key. That’s a soft one that appears in the display area.

The battery packs 2600mAh capacity. Motorola rates it with a 24 hours “mixed usage” life. It can be “Turbo” charged – five minutes on the charger can give another seven hours of life.