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Moto Z: Is this the Droid you’ve been looking for?

Dan Rosenbaum | July 22, 2016
We review the Droid editions of the Moto Z and Moto Z Force, Motorola's latest high-end Android smartphones.

The new Moto Z phones are pretty remarkable for some innovative things they can do -- and for something important they left out.

Motorola is one of the oldest brands in electronics. The company invented car radios (hence "Motor-ola") and was the first company to build cell phone infrastructure and the phones themselves. In the early days, Motorola's phones were flat out the best you could get. Over the years, the company lost its way, with the exception of a few pretty good phones in the last couple of years. Now, after several ownership changes, Moto is part of Lenovo.

The good news is that the things that made Moto great -- innovation and build quality -- are back again with the Moto Z line. The two models that were just introduced -- the Moto Z and the Moto Z Force -- are now Verizon's top-of-the-line phones, which the company has indicated by giving them the Droid name. (So: Moto Z Droid Edition and Moto Z Force Droid Edition. Yes, really.)

When you compare the Moto Z Force to the Moto Z, the former is thicker (0.27 in. vs. 0.20 in.) and heavier (5.7 oz. vs. 4.9 oz.). The phones are otherwise identical: 6.1 in. long by 3.0 in. wide. Other differences: The Force has a 3500mAh battery compared to the Moto Z's 2600mAh, a 21-megapixel back-facing camera rather than the Moto Z's 13-megapixel unit, and a more rugged screen. I spent most of my time with the Force.

Physically, the phones are lovely. The Moto Z is model-thin -- maybe a bit too thin, to the point where it's a little hard to grab off a table when it's lying face down. (Face up, the camera bulge props the phone off a surface enough make that a little easier.) On the other hand, the sides of the Moto Z Force are beveled, so it is easier to pick up and hold.

There's a good heft to both phones; nothing feels flimsy. Even the contacts on the phone's back (more about that in a moment), gold against black, look on the classy side of geeky and harken back to the classic Motorola colors of gold and deep brown.

The technology is what you'd expect at the top of the line: a Qualcomm SnapDragon 820 processor, a 5.5-in. AMOLED Quad HD (2560 x 1440) screen, a fingerprint scanner (located on the chin of the phone, just below the display), 4GB of RAM, 32GB or 64GB of storage, room for an SD card and a USB-C port. The phones come with a TurboPower charger, but do not support wireless charging.


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