Lenovo has announced the Moto Z Play, (a more affordable variant of the Moto Z) modular smartphone that was announced in June this year. The Moto Z play comes with a price tag of $499 (approximately ₹33,500) and it will start shipping in September. The company also announced that the Moto Z will be priced at $624 (approximately ₹41,750).
The Moto Z and the Moto Z Play come with Moto Mods, a modular system that lets users extend the functionality of the smartphone. Lenovo has also unveiled a new Moto Mod developed with Hasselblad, called the True Zoom, which extends camera capabilities of the Moto Z family. The new products were unveiled at the sidelines of IFA 2016 in Berlin on Wednesday, and they will be on display at the company’s booth at the exhibition.
Moto mods are a great concept, especially since they’re recognized and usable instantly, and the approach is a bit different in execution than this year’s LG G5. However, there are drawbacks to both the main device and overall experience to accommodate this innovative shift.
Here’s the verdict on all of Moto’s snap-on perks released so far
MOTO INSTA-SHARE PROJECTOR
The Moto Insta-Share Projector is easily the most exciting Moto Mod in the initial pack, as it snaps onto the Moto Z and gives you a portable pico projector that you can take anywhere.
With absolutely minimal effort, you can project up to a 70in image on a wall, whether you’re running streaming video or playing locally saved media, or enjoying a game. If your room is dark enough, it’s solidly bright at max settings, and the keystone correction for auto-adjusting to your wall tends to work well, although you may need to fiddle with the angle a bit.
The built-in kickstand helps make the Insta-Share Projector effective, as it’s super strong and can help you toss the image on any wall or ceiling with ease. There are drawbacks, however, starting with the meager 480p resolution. That’s fine for a TV show from Netflix, and it’s on par with most standalone pico projectors, but it’s a big drop from the phone’s Quad HD screen.
Also, the battery life isn’t awesome. The 1,100mAh battery within the Mod helps supplement the phone’s battery, adding about an hour of extra playback – but with a fully charged phone and Mod together, you’d barely get to 2.5 hours of streaming from Netflix. Even if you can get through a full movie, your phone will be nearly tapped out.
And with no headphone jack on the Moto Z, you’ll need a Bluetooth or USB-C-connectible speaker if you’re planning to entertain a crowd. The phone’s speaker is fine if you’re watching in a quiet room, but the larger the group, the less likely you’ll be able to hear it well enough.
While the Insta-Share Projector is a very handy thing to be able to pull out of your bag, the $300 price point – nearly half the price of the phone itself – makes it difficult to justify, given the slim battery life and low resolution. Found at half the price in a bargain bin in a few months, however, it might be worth a cheaper pickup.
INCIPIO OFFGRID POWER PACK
Luckily, the other Mods are more reasonably priced. Incipio’s offGRID Power Pack is the one that seems like the biggest necessity of the bunch, as slapping one onto the back of the Moto Z adds 2,220mAh of battery power to the 2,600mAh cell already in the phone.
That’s a sizeable upgrade: a total of 4,820mAh is enough to last the average user two full days, or let you power through a long day of Pokémon Go hunting, streaming video, and calls without a mid-day charge. And the phone shows you the battery life remaining on the internal battery and Power Pack separately, as well.
There is a visual drawback, however. While the Moto Z itself is sleek and relatively stylish, the Power Pack is a rubberized clump that adds thickness and takes some of the visual appeal out of the equation. Luckily, the Moto Z is easier to grip with the Power Pack attached.
And there’s a helpful bonus hidden underneath that plastic: the $70 version comes with wireless charging capabilities, which were curiously left off of the Moto Z itself. There’s a $60 version that’s purely a battery pack, but for $10 more, you might as well get wireless charging for your Android flagship.
Either way, the Power Pack isn’t flashy – but it is a very helpful boost, plus the snap-on design is less obtrusive than an oversized battery case and less of a hassle than plugging in an external battery pack when you’re on the go. It’s well worth picking up if you’re worried about having enough juice when out and about.
Unfortunately, the front-facing stereo speakers of past Moto X models are gone, now replaced with a single speaker up top. However, the Moto Z offers the option to add much larger speakers on the back thanks to the JBL SoundBoost Mod.
It’s a bulkier Mod than the Power Pack, but the SoundBoost packs a solid punch for the still relatively compact size: they’re each 3W speakers with output ranging between 200Hz and 20kHz. The SoundBoost doesn’t produce massive sound, but it also doesn’t seem canned or overly contained. It’ll do the trick for a beach party or backyard, in other words.
The built-in kickstand is a nice touch, letting you prop up the phone while the speakers are in use – that way, you don’t have to lay your screen flat on a surface, or prop the Moto Z up against a wall. And the 1,000mAh battery within means the SoundBoost won’t start sucking up your phone’s internal battery for upwards of 10 hours of playback.
For $80, it’s a fair offering, albeit not one we’d want to keep snapped on at all times due to the extra bulk. And that brings us to the next question: in that case, why not just go for a more powerful Bluetooth speaker that can connect to any wireless devices that you or your friends have, rather than limiting it to the Moto Z?
In fact, JBL has some strong portable speaker options (like the Charge 2 or 3), and while you might spend a little more than the $80 here for something good, you’ll probably get higher-end hardware in the process alongside wider device compatibility. It’s your call, but give some thought to the lifespan of the speaker you’re considering.
HASSELBLAD TRUE ZOOM
Like previous Moto Mods, the True Zoom attachment fits at the rear end of the Z Plat via magnets. It has a 12MP sensor with 10X optical zoom lens and optical image stabilisation (OIS) for photos. Although, this is one Moto Mod we think can prove to be a necessity rather than a luxury accessory that you may never use.
In terms of aesthetics, the mod includes a grip for easy holding, a hardware zoom dial, and physical button. In addition, the True Zoom mod has a unique camera application for the Z Play, allowing users to shoot images in RAW mode.
When it’s attached, it can be mistaken for a camera – not a smartphone with an accessory connected to it. The hefty size makes it impractical to discretely hide away in our pockets, but again we can’t stress enough about how Moto Mods are here for the convenience of the situation. The Moto Mods add-on architecture is an intelligent way to add a camera and the Hasselblad True Zoom is attractive, well designed and adds a convenient 10x zoom.
The camera software can be annoying and it’s hard to control framing when zoomed all the way in, especially for moving subjects. The video quality isn’t great, either. If you take a lot of photos and have a Motorola Moto Z phone, the Hasselblad is a great add-on to have, as long as you’re looking for a big zoom instead of better-than-phone photo quality.
It will initially be available in the in the US for pre-ordering starting September 8 and Verizon stores from September 15 for $250. However, the same mod will be available on Motorola’s site for $299.
The Hasselblad True Zoom will be available in the U.S. for pre-order starting September 8 and in Verizon stores September 15 for $249.99. For a limited time, when you buy a Moto Mod, Verizon is offering 50% off another Mod of equal or lesser value. The Hasselblad True Zoom will also be sold on Motorola.com for $299.