Last year, when we reviewed the first Moto Z, it showed us that we are ready for modular devices and Motorola was the right way to do it. This year, we got our hands on the Moto Z2 Force Edition of the line-up. I’ve been using the device for a while, and it is going to difficult to let go of the extra battery pack mod. But let’s first look at the phone and then move on to the new mods.
Moto Z2 Force: What is it?
Imagine having a flagship device with all the whizzes and bangs you deem satisfactory in a top-end smartphone. Now imagine adding a shatterproof screen to that, to save you that extra heartache from dropping these devices as one tends to (*cough* iPhone users).
If you look at some of the mods the Z2 Force comes with and you’d almost never need to carry around extra devices to perform certain tasks. But it’s not all milk and honey, and there are few downs to a device that seems excellent from the outside.
Moto Z2 Force: Design and build
Without any of the mods, the phone is incredibly slim, measuring just 6.1mm. It sports a sleek, flat design that sits well in your hand. The device does have a rather large camera bump, which a few people might have issues with. However, it sits slightly raised on a flat surface thanks to the bump, which I appreciated for giving me an easy view on what’s displayed.
On the back, there are a series of magnetic connectors at the bottom of the phone, where all the mods magically attach to the device.
As slim as it looks, this phone is not a delicate little darling. It doesn’t bear the Force moniker for no reason.
The Moto ShatterShield screen is a thing of beauty leaving you with the peace of mind that the screen won’t crack when it suddenly slips from your hand to the cold tile floor beneath. The screen is protected by five layers and Motorola guarantees that it won’t shatter or crack for four years. This unfortunately doesn’t make it scratch-resistant as well.
A unibody aluminium frame casing adds to the phone’s durability. Outside of this substantial armour, the Moto Z2 Force has all the features that would put it in contention with the other top smartphones in the current market. It features a fingerprint scanner at the bottom of the screen, a USB-C charging slot, and a microSD slot that lets you add up to 2TB to its in-built 64GB of storage.
Oddly enough, the phone is splash-resistant but not waterproof, which would have been a wonderful addition to already hardy device. A word of caution, however, is that the Z2 Force gets very slippery once wet, thanks to the all-metal finish.
The screen is actually quite a treat. The phone houses a 5.5-inch Quad HD (1,440 x 2,560 pixels) P-OLED display, and it uses Super AMOLED technology, which means the colours are sharp and just the right amount of saturation.
There are two colour settings on the phone, vibrant and standard. As you can glean from this, the vibrant mode shows you richer colours and the standard mode shows you more natural tones. I’m more of a natural colour fan, so I stuck with the standard setting. Unfortunately, you can’t tweak these any further other than adjusting the brightness of your screen.
Moto Z2 Force: Camera
Coming to the cameras, Motorola has decide to outfit the Z2 Force with a first for the brand: dual cameras. A pair of 12MP shooters on the back, one RGB sensor and the other is monochrome. While the camera is not stellar in comparison with current competition, it does do a pretty good job. It even has a new depth mode that is very intuitive and overall has a very easy to use UI.
In good lighting conditions, the Moto Z2 Force produces great quality images. We liked most of what we saw. Color reproduction is a bit inconsistent but can be managed. Focus is a bit off as the devices tends to lose focus very fast and sometimes sees beyond the subject of the image.
In the front we have a 5MP wide-angle camera, which is might be enough for your selfies and videos, but doesn’t really match the current standards being provided by their competition. Also, thanks to the addition of a LED Flash, low-light images come out quite well.
Moto Z2 Force: Performance and features
As with most flagships in the market now, the Z2 Force runs on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 chipset, coupled with an Adreno 540 graphics chip and 6GB of RAM. Thanks to this set-up, the device handles multitasking and apps with ease. Browsing multiple tabs is a breeze and gaming just feels natural on it.
Heating issues are uncommon, but this will happen to a mild extent with prolonged use as with all phones. Keeping an almost pure Android experience with no bloatware adds to the user experience of the Z2 Force.
The device is running Android 7.1.1 with an almost stock experience. Motorola merely adds a few functions for their Moto Actions into the OS.
Audio is an area where I found myself a little disappointed. While the speakers produce good audio and sound via the USB Type-C headphones (Yes, there is no headphone jack #donglelife), audio recording on the device just seemed a little off. At a recent concert in the UAE, while video quality was satisfactory (considering lighting at such concerts), the audio was nothing like what was playing at the venue.
When I first saw the spec sheet of the Moto Z2 Force, I was highly taken back by the small 2,730mAh battery in the device. Last year’s Z Force had a 3,500mAh battery; this is a 22 per cent drop in battery capacity. Surprisingly, the battery life of the device didn’t reflect the same. Getting through a large portion of my day is easy, and if I needed a boost there was the battery mod. We discuss that further below.
Moto Z2 Force: The Moto Mods
Now is where we come to why I call this phone or rather this type of modular phone a lifesaver. Having a flagship device in this world is all well and good. And all these brands competing for the top spot have something or the other that give it it’s edge.
Now the Moto Z2 Force, in my opinion, is definitely a top contender, but it can’t do it alone. It needs its Moto Mods, or rather the ones which really make it shine above and beyond other devices.
Moto Turbo Power Pack
First and the main reason I could literally power use my phone the whole day was the Battery Pack. It’s amazing. While it does make the phone bulkier, in my hands, it’s barely noticeable. It adds almost 3,500 mAh of juice to the phone appearing to make it last forever in smartphone hours. TurboCharging is included, which is excellent.
The most intuitive feature however is the Efficiency Mode in the battery pack that maintains your phone battery at 80%. This means that it doesn’t drain fast to charge your phone to the max and your phone never seems to die. It’s an illusion that only feels amazing every time you look at your phone.
Moto Game Pad
Next up is another favourite, the gamepad. Gaming is pretty stale on smartphones, and playing racing games or action games when your thumbs cover up a quarter of the screen is pretty lame. Here’s where the gamepad makes it so much fun. It gives you the whole screen to play with.
The Mod snaps on to the back and gives you a D-Pad, 2 joysticks, and action buttons on top and the sides to play with. Games like Sonic the Hedgehog and Asphalt 8 are just that much more fun to play with now that you can use it like an actual hand held gaming console.
Camera 360 Mod
Another fun Mod we got to play with is the Camera 360 Mod. It basically allows you to take 360 degree photos and videos around you, which is fun when needed. Like all the other mods, you just snap it on the back, et voila, 360 video all day everyday!
I used it at the concert, and got some decent shots with the device. Video capture was good too, but audio capture was not great as I mentioned before.
Click here to see some of our 360 samples.
Moto Z2 Force: Verdict
The phone is definitely in the running for one of my favourites this year. While it doesn’t have fancy bells and whistles like machine learning and AIs, it does what you need very well. Plus the addition of the Mods mean, that you can keep adding to your smartphone experience as and when required. Motorola had guaranteed more mods every quarter as well as no drastic changes to their devices for 3 years. They’ve kept true to this promise and I respect them for that.
The lack of a headphone jack is annoying, but not a deal breaker. Motorola includes the dongle in the box though. The camera is another aspect where Motorola need to up their game. It’s also sad that for such a durable phone, it isn’t completely waterproof. I guess we’ll see that in the ‘Z3’, if that’s what it’s called.
If you think you are prone to dropping your phone constantly, and you also want a flagship smartphone experience, then this is definitely the phone for you. There isn’t anything like it on the market.
Price and Availability
The Moto Z2 Force is available at local and online retailers in the UAE.
|Moto Z2 Force + option of one of the following mods: JBL Sound boost 2 Speaker, Moto GamePad or TurboPower||Dh2,699|
|Moto 360 Camera||Dh999|
|JBL Sound boost 2 Speaker||Dh299|
|Moto Mod Projector||Dh1,299|