Once all the hype, modularity seems to have been left behind with the phasing out of Google’s efforts with Project Ara. Motorola, however, seems to be all-aboard with the idea in its Moto Z line of phones. This year’s release of the Moto Z2 highlights the company’s commitment to the greatly executed Moto Mods idea. Folks over at Lenovo/Motorola decided to provide us with the opportunity to test out their newest device, and while it might not outperform in every category, it still is able to defend its spot as a good contender.
Similar to the original Moto Z, the Moto Z2’s design borrows cues from its older counterpart, which is not bad, but continues on with some flaws from the first generation. For instance, power and volume buttons are still near identical and very small in size. While Motorola’s software add-ons help wake and sleep the phone via the home button, the Z2’s buttons are very easy to mistake for one another and not at all comfortable to press due to their size. This problem is made worse because both volume and sleep/wake buttons are placed on the same side in the device. Moving the volume buttons to the other side could at least help with the accidental sleep/wake presses when trying to adjust the device’s volume.
Like the original Moto Z, the Z2 also keeps the camera bump in order to help align the Moto Mods to the phone’s connectors. Like other phones with raised cameras, the Moto Z2 will definitely not sit flat on any surface.
A big part of the Moto Z2 experience relies on what accessories you decide to buy. Style shells now not only change the appearance of your device, but also make it compatible with wireless charging. The TurboPower Pack adds an extra 3490 mAh battery to the Z2 and JBL’s SoundBoost 2 attaches a significantly loud speaker with a kickstand for media consumption.
While the ability to charge the Z2 wirelessly sounds appealing, even charging via the included ‘TurboPower’ USB-C charger took up to 2 hours to go from 0 to 100% charge. Motorola’s style shells, however, do a fantastic job at changing the appearance of the Z2. Our included ‘Grey Herringbone Nylon’ cover provided the Z2 with a significantly good amount of texture and grip.
JBL’s SoundBoost 2 is probably among the most exciting Mods to use. The speaker can get to an impressive high volume and is comparable to the sound you get from a standalone Bluetooth speaker.
Our tests with the Z2 camera were mostly average. The camera seemed to over-sharpen several aspects of the subjects in order to make the image look high quality, but only ended up with a processed look. While the Z2 does not have an unusable camera, images can start looking grainy in lower light conditions.
The Moto Z2 offers a great choice for people looking to push their smartphone to the fullest without spending thousands of dollars. While Moto Mods are not cheap, they offer great additions to get the most out of the Z2. With newer versions of Mods being backwards compatible, the Moto Z line is off to a good start in providing a modular experience for smartphone users. It is now up to manufacturers and Motorola themselves to continue with Moto Mods. As far as the Z2 extends, and like it has been with the original, it does not lack in the quality or specs department. The Moto Z2 handles everything that is thrown at it, and even offers an aluminum unibody design, usually only found in more expensive devices. The Z2, however, starts to show its struggle in the camera department when met with low light conditions.