Motorola Australia launches Moto Z and Moto Z Play with Moto Mods

Motorola’s first line of modular smartphones, the Moto Z and Moto Z Play are here, and they’re set to shake-up the local smartphone scene, that is if you happen to purchase your phones outright.

Moto Z

Starting with the Moto Z, Motorola’s true flagship for international markets, it sets out to be the thinnest premium smartphone at a razor thin 5.2mm. It’s not the thinnest smartphone to reach Australia, but it’s certainly the thinnest packing flagship specs under the hood.

Its highlights include a build comprised of a combination of aluminium and steel, encompassing a 5.5-inch QHD AMOLED panel producing 535 pixels per inch, as well as a front always-on touch fingerprint reader. The front also hosts a 5MP wide-angle front cam with f/2.4 aperture and shooting at rather large 1.4 micron pixels, along with a front flash LED, making Moto Z one of the only smartphones to cater specifically for night owl selfie lovers to such levels. A single front speaker resides in the earpiece grille.

Around the back is where a 13MP sensor resides with dual flash LEDs, as well as a large and impressive f/1.8 aperture, laser autofocus and OIS. It’s all matched with a 1.12 micron pixel size, which is comparably smaller than other flagships out there, though we’d have to see for ourselves how well it stands up in a number of shooting situations. The lower segment of the rear steel panel houses an array of magnetic connector pins for Moto Mods, a range of interchangeable add-ons designed to enhance the handset beyond its standard capabilities.

What you won’t find on the Moto Z that happens to feature on the more affordable Moto Z Play is a 3.5mm audio jack, because reasons, or because someone had to beat Apple to the drop. It does include a 3.5mm to USB-C audio adaptor in the box, though.

Underneath it’s every bit as capable as the current crop of flagships, using Motorola’s Mobile Computing System which incorporates a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset and Adreno 530 GPU with both natural language and contextual processors. This setup makes it capable of the voice-based features like Moto Voice, and various sensor based features including Moto Display and wave-to-wake by way of IR emitters on the front panel . Included elsewhere is an ample 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM and 64GB ROM as standard, with support for microSD expansion up to 2TB, though 200GB seems to be the maximum available at the moment. A 2600mAh battery is on the smaller side, but it does leave the door open for at least a day’s usage, particularly considering Moto’s TurboPower charging claims it’ll provide up to 7 hours of usage from 15 minutes of charge.

Moto Z runs a largely stock Android 6.0.1 out of the box, with fairly minimal additions to the software beyond Moto’s useful suite of Moto features. Android 7.0 is expected before year’s end. Moto Z measures in at 153.3 x 75.3 x 5.2 mm and weighs 136g.

Moto Z Play

Moto Z Play is the more affordable alternative, featuring a 5.5-inch 1080p AMOLED display with 403 ppi, the same fast fingerprint reader, single front speaker and front camera with flash, but with the omission of front IR emitters.

It’s ever so slightly larger in every measurement at 156.4 x 76.4 x 7 mm and more hefty at 165g, but there’s a valid reason, being that it packs a huge 3510mAh battery instead. Couple that with a more efficient octa-core Snapdragon 625 chip compared to the 615 which featured in last year’s Moto X Play and it can only mean good things for battery life.

Elsewhere there are some trade-offs like a 16MP rear sensor which lacks OIS and has a smaller f/2.0 aperture, but it does gain phase detection autofocus in addition to laser autofocus, as well as larger 1.3 micron pixel size. The rear panel is glass instead of steel, so expect it to be more prone to scratches and possible cracks if not well maintained.

Despite these minor drawbacks — depending how you see it — the Moto Z Play does sport a respectable 3GB of RAM, 32GB internal storage with microSD expansion to the levels as Moto Z, and it too runs Android 6.0.1 with a planned upgrade to Andorid 7.0, and the same list of Moto software enchancements.

Moto Mods

Motorola’s modular approach sees the release of a number of add-ons which can be clipped magnetically to either Moto Z handset. Products range from a slimline battery pack, stereo speaker to transform the handset into a boombox of sorts, a projector for presentations or media, camera add-on offering optical zoom, or style shells to change up the look or protect the rear panel. It’s an intriguing approach which has be found to work seamlessly as a modular effort, so it’ll be great to see how these work in action.