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Moto Z review: Modular at its best

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After failed attempts by other brands, Motorola successfully pulled off modular design for smartphones with the Moto Z. The phone features the Moto Mods, a series of accessories that clamp on the back of the device for added functionality.

Moto Z Review Philippines

Let’s first take a quick look at what makes the Moto Z tick. The phone features a 5.5-inch quad HD AMOLED display, a 1.8Ghz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage. It comes with a 13MP rear camera, a 5MP front camera, a USB Type-C port, and no audio jack.

moto z review

Moto Z XT1650 Specs:

  • 5.5-inch Quad HD AMOLED Display (2560 x 1440; 535 ppi)
  • 1.8GHz Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 Processor
  • Adreno 530 GPU
  • 4GB LPDDR4 RAM
  • 64GB Storage +microSD slot up to 256GB
  • 13MP Rear Camera w/ f1.8, Laser Autofocus, OIS, Dual LED Flash
  • 5MP Front Camera w/ f2.2, LED Flash
  • LTE
  • Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac
  • Bluetooth v4.1
  • GPS, AGPS, GLONASS
  • USB Type-C
  • NFC
  • Fingerprint Scanner
  • Water Repellent Nano Coating
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • 2,600 mAh Battery (Turbo Power Charging)
  • Dimensions: 6.04 x 2.96 x 0.20 in

moto z review

The Moto Z’s retail package comes with the usual accessories plus some notable inclusions. With the phone is a Moto Style Shell Moto Mod, a plastic bumper case, a TurboPower wall charger, a USB Type-C cable, a USB Type-C to Audio Jack adapter, a pair of earphones, and a rubber type thing designed to hold your earphones together.

For some reason, the included earphones have a standard audio jack, not a USB Type-C — hence the included adapter.

Design and Build

The first thing you’ll notice about the Moto Z is how thin it is. I mean, it is really thin with a “thickness” of just 5.2mm — making it one of the world’s thinnest smartphones. It has a steel frame that measures in at 6.04 x 2.96 inches, and a weight of just 136g. Our review unit is white with a rose gold frame. It came with a Silver Oak Wood Style Shell that made the device a bit slippery.

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The front is dominated by the 5.5-inch AMOLED display. On top is the earpiece, a light sensor, and a front camera with a front-facing LED flash. Below the screen, you’ll find a square-shaped fingerprint scanner, and two sensors that detect your hand when you reach for the device.

Take note that the fingerprint scanner is not a button. The Moto Z uses on screen navigations keys. So if you’re coming from a phone that uses a physical home button (like a Galaxy S7), then you may mistake this as a home button (the way I did). Putting your finger on it locks or unlocks the phone.

moto z review

Turning the phone over, you will be greeted by the camera which protrudes from the back for a reason. It acts as an anchor to hold the Moto Mods (along with powerful magnets) in its place. You could also find the metal sensors that connect to the mods when attached.

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On the right side of the phone, you have your power button and volume rockers. The design of these buttons are somewhat of a misfire, in my opinion. While they work great, these have the same size and are equidistant from each other. It can cause some confusion when you reach for the buttons. To be fair though, the power button does offer a ridged surface to help distinguish it from the volume rockers.

moto z review

At the bottom of the device is the USB Type-C port, and on top you’ll find the hybrid SIM tray and a second microphone hole. Missing is the 3.5 audio jack.

With regards to the build quality, none does it better than Motorola. The Moto Z feels great in the hand. The build is premium. And while it isn’t water resistant, the device has a water repellant nano coating that protects it from splashes.

Display and UI

The Moto Z comes with a 5.5-inch full HD AMOLED display. It is bright and colorful, with good viewing angles. Since it’s an AMOLED, it has deep blacks with over saturated colors. If that’s not to your liking, you can change the color mode in the display settings to standard which displays more realistic colors albeit a bit warm.

moto z review

One of the best features of the phone is that it runs on stock Android 7.0 Nougat. It has no bloatware, but it does come with a few useful Moto’s apps.

Performance and Benchmarks

The Moto Z is powered by a 1.8Ghz quad-core Snapdragon 820 processor paired with an Adreno 530 GPU and 4GB of RAM. Despite the SOC being a year old (it debuted in 2016), it still has plenty of power for most (if not all) heavy tasks.

With that being said, the phone is very fast and responsive. The SOC, combined with stock Android, makes this device fly. In fact, this is one of the smoothest phones I’ve tried — navigating and scrolling through home screen, surfing the web, etc.

moto z review

And when it comes to mobile games? The Adreno 530 graphics chip gets the job done. The phone handled the most demanding and graphic heavy games I tried with no problems.

We ran some benchmark tests to see phone’s raw performance. Here are the results:

  • AnTuTu Benchmark – 130,163 points
  • Geekbench 4 – Single 1,546 points, Multi 3,774 points
  • 3D Mark (Slingshot Extreme Test) – 2,086 points

Camera

The Moto Z boasts a 13MP rear camera with a f1.8 aperture lens, laser autofocus, optical image stabilization and a dual LED flash. Camera performance is great in bright lighting conditions. Images are sharp with good colors. Quality takes a dip though in low light as noise start creeping in. It does do a better job than most smartphones in its class, but it falls short against camera heavyweights like the Galaxy S7 edge.

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The front camera has a 5MP sensor with a f2.2 lens and an LED flash. With the flash, the camera does come out with good selfies. Giving it better low light performance.

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Battery

The battery is where Moto Z stumbles. Because of how thin it is, Motorola was able to cram in just 2,600 mAh. That’s a far cry from what other phones in the same category are packing. In a workday, I saw myself reaching for the charger late in the afternoon.

Motorola has two good options for this problem. The phone comes with a TurboPower charger, promising up to 8 hours in just 15 minutes of charging. The other is through the Incipio OffGrid Power Pack Moto Mod. The latter gives you an additional 2,200 mAh battery for Php4,999.

Conclusion

So, do I recommend it? Quick answer: Yes. Yes because the Moto Z has a lot to offer. Despite the lack of an audio jack and the small battery, it’s still a great smartphone. It’s performance is top notch; it is buttery smooth; it has a very good camera; and it runs on stock Android. Plus you have the Moto Mods that actually add more functionality.

The Moto Z is available in Motorola kiosks, Memoxpress stores, and retail partners with a price of Php33,999.

For more geek-centric news and reviews, please follow us on Facebook (facebook.com/TechnoBaboy), YouTube (TechnoBryan), Twitter (@technobaboy), and Instagram (technobryan). We’ll do our best to keep you up-to-date.

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