Just a couple of days ago, Lenovo held their Tech World conference in San Francisco. There were a lot of exciting announcements made, including the one many of us here at PhoneDog had been eagerly waiting to see: the announcement of the Moto Z and Moto Z Force.
Moto Z takes the place of Moto X, and features a hardware redesign as well as some awesome new features. One of the coolest new features of Moto Z duo is the ability to use Moto Mods to enhance the features of your phone that matter most. Moto Mods that will be immediately available on release include a battery pack, audio enhancement, and even a projector. Future Mods are expected to make appearances as well, including the OneCompute mod, which follows a similar concept to Microsoft’s Continuum (although Lenovo’s chief technology officer, Peter Hortensius, urged reporters not to think of this as the Android version of Continuum).
Moto Z also introduces Style Shells, which takes the old unique customizations of the Moto X to a whole new level by removing the permanent aspect of the customizations. For instance, maybe when you buy the phone you’re in a bamboo kind of mood. Come to find out 3 months later, you’re kind of wishing you had gone with leather. Good news! You can still have a leather back just by slapping a leather Style Shell on that bad boy.
Both Moto Z models look almost exactly the same, with both devices having a 5.5-inch screen. However, internally (and a little bit externally) there are a couple of differences.
The Moto Z features a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 2600 mAh battery. The Moto Z Force, on the other hand, has a 21-megapixel shooter, a 3500 mAh battery, and a Shatter Proof display. There aren’t many differences, but they are significant.
Spec-wise, the Moto Z measures up to the major flagships we’ve already seen this year such as the Samsung Galaxy S7, the LG G5, and the HTC 10. With a Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB of RAM, 32 or 64GB of internal storage with micro SD support up to 2TB, 13 or 21-megapixel rear-facing cameras, and the addition of Moto Mods, there’s not much to not like about the Moto Z.
Except for maybe the fact that there is, in fact, no headphone jack.
Although it wasn’t explicitly mentioned during the live event (and why would they want to point that out?) it didn’t take long to find out about this little secret of the Moto Z. One could deduce that the reasoning behind the lack of headphone jack is due to the thin size of the devices, whether it’s 5.2mm on the Moto Z or 7mm on the Z Force. But is the trade-off really worth it in the end?
The move blind-sided me. I’ve been discussing for months about the possible implications of such a move impacting sales of Apple’s iPhone, but I didn’t consider that anybody else (well, with the exception of Oppo, who has already done this) would actually get rid of the headphone jack so soon.
Lenovo didn’t completely leave potential Moto Z users in the dark, as there is apparently a Type-C adapter for those who do wish to continue using headsets that require a 3.5mm connection. But it is just a little inconvenient, particularly because adapters are small and easy to lose, and not as easy to replace as, say, a cheap headset that uses the 3.5mm port.
The other downside, if you could call it that, is that Verizon gets exclusive rights to the Moto Z first. Adopting the moniker Moto Z Droid and Moto Z Droid Force, the duo will arrive on Verizon in the summer, while unlocked versions will be available starting sometime in September.
To me this isn’t really a big deal (and I’m sure Verizon customers are actually quite happy with this) but it is kind of a downer if you’re not a Verizon customer and you’re currently in the market for a new smartphone. For some people, a few months is a long time to wait, and I imagine some people would rather pick up something else than wait for the Moto Z.
Overall, though, I think the Moto Z has more good going for it than bad. I’m an avid user of headsets that use the 3.5mm headphone jack, so it is a little daunting to know that if I did pick up a Moto Z it wouldn’t be so easy to just plug in and go. On the other hand, I think Moto Mods look very appealing and easy to use. The G5 was on the right track, but the fact that the Moto Z can use their mods without having to restart the phone and without having to remove the battery, or really do anything other than “snap” the mod on, completely outdates the G5’s method mere months after its debut.
And with that in mind, I’m starting to rethink how serious taking out the 3.5mm headphone jack would be for Apple if they go that route. If the iPhone 7 can come up with enough improvements to make up for the lack of headphone jack, I could see it being a much smaller deal than I originally thought.
Readers, what are your thoughts of the Moto Z and Moto Z Force? Will you be picking up one for yourself? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!