I took a break from using Motorola phones after a horrible experience with the Motorola Atrix, but after being impressed by the Moto 360 (first generation), I decided to the give Motorola phones a shot. So, I reached out to Motorola and got a Moto Z to use as my daily driver. Here are my thoughts on the Moto Z.
The User Experience
The Moto Z has been the most impressive phone for me. From transitions to app loading times, this phone does an amazing job making sure there are no slowdowns or stutters. I love that this phone is almost Nexus (or should I say Pixel?) like in terms of how bloat-free the software is. The decision to keep everything stock Android while adding some very useful extra features is something I wish more manufactures did.
I'll even go as far as saying that this is the smoothest Android phone I have used this year (I have not used the Pixel yet) so far. Considering how smooth this phone is on Marshmallow, I am looking forward to seeing how much better it'll perform when it is updated to Nougat (I am using the unlocked model in Canada, so no Nougat for me yet).
I love the idea of modular phones. I think there's a lot of potential for creativity and usability in this department. Before getting the Moto Z, I used the LG G5 for a few weeks and I didn't even feel like swapping the battery because I didn't want to reboot the phone. However, this hasn't been the case for the Moto Z. The idea of using strong magnets to connect and keep the mods connected to the phone is so simple, yet so effective.
I used the Hasselblad True Zoom, Incipio Battery Mod, and the wood style mod with my Moto Z and I loved changing the Mod depending on where I was and what I was up to. I really hope Motorola continues with the mods and supports developers who want to create more mods.
While the optics of the camera aren't bad (it can take some seriously good shots), the software of the Moto Z's camera is nothing compared to other manufacturers. The user interface of the camera app is not nearly as good as the competition and the ridiculous amount of sharpening applied during post makes a lot of pictures unusable.
Also, the camera favours getting a bright shot by compromising shutter speed, which is something I've always hated about mobile phones. On the bright side, most phones released this year fixed that issue and focused more on shutter speed. I'd take a slightly noisy picture over a blurry picture any day of the week.
The manual mode solves the issue by providing a lot of useful options such as the ability to control shutter speed and ISO, but most people don't know what those even mean. I shouldn't be using manual mode to take a blur free picture in indoor lighting.
No Headphone Jack
So, Motorola pulled an Apple before Apple showed "courage". I have used both the iPhone 7 and the Moto Z, and I still don't think removing the headphone jack was a good idea. At least Apple could say they did it for the new and improved Taptic Engine (which is very, very good!), but what excuse does Motorola have? Thin-ness can't be a factor here as the Z Force doesn't have the headphone jack either.
On the bright side, the audio quality is pretty good on wired headphones. The headphone jack on the dongle, although pretty tight, isn't tight enough for the headphones to stay plugged in. If you pull the wire even slightly, the dongle will get detached. If you have a Moto Z, I'd strongly suggest using the wire holder that comes in the box to make sure your headphones stay connected when you're moving around.
This phone was built for the mods. Holding the phone in hand without any style mods isn't fun. The edges are razor sharp and it can be uncomfortable to hold. I always have the style mod on as it is much easier to hold because of the tapered edges of the style mods.
The battery life of this phone is abysmal. The Moto Z has easily been the worst phone I've used in terms of battery life this year. On average I got 2-2.5 hours of screen on time and I didn't last a day without having to plug a charger in or snapping on the battery charger at some point. I don't even play games on my phone.
If you are in the market for a near stock Android phone, but cannot afford the Pixel, you should definitely give Motorola a shot! It is easily one of the fastest Android phones available right now, and the mods and very handy software optimizations make this phone a must try for any Android enthusiast.