One of the biggest and most intriguing perks of the Moto Z smartphones is their support for Moto Mods, mods that magnetically attach to the back of the phone and greatly expand the functionality of the device. There are speaker mods, battery mods, projector mods, and camera mods. One of the newest mods that launched with the Moto Z2 Force is another camera mod. It’s the Moto 360 Camera Mod.
This is that mod and while the main component of the mod is the camera, it still requires a fairly chunky rear case that connects to the 16-pin connector on the back of the Moto Z2 Force.
After you attach it to the rear, you can navigate the camera app and mod will be automatically detected. The app does recommend portrait mode. You can pinch to zoom in or double tap to zoom in digitally. And there’s a little button to the left that lets you switch layouts. There are three different layouts: a mode that lets you pan around with your finger, a split-screen mode that lets you see the views from the front and rear-facing camera sensors, and a sort of consolidated view that you can pan through.
On the right hand side of the app, there are three different settings: a Professional mode that lets you tweak the ISO, white balance, exposure, and you can set a timer which is really nice to have.
Another really cool feature is the Ultra-wide feature that might turn out to be the most useful because it’ll produce an ultra-wide image that will work with most applications. One of the biggest problems with 360-video is that it can be a little bit difficult to work with and share with all of your social media applications. Facebook and YouTube is supported but not a lot support it very well.
Lastly, we have the main Photo mode. There is a video mode that lets you take 360-videos but it’s even more basic. There’s no professional mode or any other mode. It’s just a record button.
So before we talk about the photo and video quality, I know that’s why a lot of you are here. I do want to mention there is a shutter button on the rear of the case where the Motorola dimple would be. So it’s easy to reach and makes capturing images and starting a video much easier than pressing the screen in certain scenarios. Also, Motorola includes a silicone cover for the Moto 360 camera sensor itself to keep it safe from scratches and keep it relatively dust-free.
The photos it captures appear to be on par with the competition. Your subject, that is whomever is in front of the camera or behind it, will appear to be crisper and more detailed than other areas of the photo. Color accuracy is good. There tends to be some over-exposure issues depending on the lighting conditions and low light performance is pretty weak. There’s a good amount of noise and grain in dimly lit areas. You can definitely improve the results when using professional mode but I understand most people probably won’t use professional mode.
We’ve uploaded a separate video directly from the Moto Z2 Force for you to get a sample of what this camera is capable of. Basically, you’re going to want to have the screen away from you if you’re recording yourself because the microphones are on the rear of the mod. It’s meant to record spatial 360-degree video. It does record in 4K resolution, which sounds better on paper since it’s recording 360 degrees, the file will be more stretched out and you will lose some quality when compared to standard 4K videos. Another complaint has to do with the shaky footage. It does tend to be a little shaky because there’s no optical image stabilization built into these camera sensors.
But aside from those complaints, I found the video quality to be pretty solid and once again, on par with the competition. If you plan on using this mod, mount it on a tripod, you should have some pretty good results.
Overall, Motorola has added some features to help them make this mod all the more worthwhile and tempting of a purchase. There’s the rear shutter button, professional mode, and included silicone cover. But the mod itself is still $300 and it requires a Moto Z smartphone to operate. If you’re all about convenience, then this mod becomes all the more worthwhile and generally speaking, you will love just about all of Motorola’s Moto Mods because they’re very convenient if you have a Moto Z device. But unless you plan on sticking with Motorola for years to come, I can’t really recommend the Moto 360 Camera Mod for the price of $300. You may want to look elsewhere for a standalone 360-degree camera that works with other smartphones.