Moto Z Review + Giveaway! [UPDATE: Contest Closed]

Moto Z Review and Giveaway

Motorola has done a fantastic job of creating several smartphone features that have made their way to other platforms.  Wireless voice controls, camera twist gestures, and always-on displays all started in the original Moto X.  With the Moto Z, Motorola is taking smartphone innovation a step further. In fact, the level of innovation with the Moto Z is so unique, I think it’s fair to say Motorola just leapfrogged the competition.  The Moto Z is the world’s first truly modular smartphone, and that’s a great thing.  Keep reading to read our Moto Z review, plus have a chance to win your own!

Moto Z Overview

When I first tried the Moto Z back in the summer, I was impressed that Moto had fit so much into the world’s thinnest premium smartphone.  Not only did Moto pack top specs into this phone, but also built it in the unique modular way that the phone can adapt over time to suit whatever I need it to be.  The Moto Z accomplishes this feat through the spectacular engineering of Moto’s team in Chicago.

The Specs

At an insane 5.2mm thin, the Moto Z is the world’s thinnest premium smartphone, and it shows!  Having this device in my pocket feels like a folded up piece of paper.  For the screen, Moto has built-in a perfectly-sized 5.5″ AMOLED display, and a top of the line Snapdragon 820 processor.  What this means is that any black pixels showing on the screen are actually powered-down pixels, using virtually no battery.  Motorola moved away from AMOLED screens in their last generation Moto X Pure, and I’m excited to see them return to AMOLED in the Moto Z.  The screen looks beautiful in daylight, but really shines at night, where the Moto Z’s always-on display allows notifications to pulse in and out without lighting up the whole room.  It’s one of my favourite features of the Moto Z.  Surrounding the screen are motion sensors, that allows a user to wave their hand over the display to view notifications when the phone is resting on a table.  I also found myself using the feature quite often over the month I’ve been using the Moto Z as my main phone.

moto-z-front-and-backCamera-wise, the Moto Z features a 13MP camera designed to perform well in low light, including a much-improved front-facing camera with selfie flash (it’s a thing!).  I found the rear camera to work well in all conditions, and have taken some incredible pictures with it in varying degrees of daylight.  Before photos or videos are taken, the camera tends to slow down it’s framerate, and becomes sluggish, though this is limited to the viewfinder.  Once a video or photo is taken, the camera kicks into high gear and takes beautiful shots.  Unfortunately, because Snapchat on Android records photos and videos by capturing the camera’s viewfinder, this leads to very sluggish video in low light on Snapchat.  Using the built-in camera app to record video avoids this problem.  On the software end, Motorola updated their camera app with the Moto Z, making it much easier to use, while also adding a professional mode with a bunch of manual controls for those interested.

The Moto Z is also Moto’s first premium smartphone with a fingerprint sensor.  Featured on the front bottom of the phone, the fingerprint sensor works extremely fast, but I take issue with the design, that looks like a home button but does not act as one.  It’s a strange design choice as I’d have preferred the reader have some functionality beyond just reading my fingerprint.  Moto couldn’t put this on the back of the phone as the Moto Mods would cover it.  The other design that could be better in the Moto Z is the speaker system.  Moto was known for their incredible dual front-facing speakers in the Moto X line, but with the Moto Z, they’ve opted for one loudspeaker on the front of the device.  This leads to noticeable decreases is both sound quality and volume versus the Moto X Pure.  However, compared to phone like the Samsung Galaxy S7 or the iPhone with bottom-facing speakers, the Moto Z wins by far.

The unique part about the Moto Z hardware comes in the 16 magic dots on the back of the device.  These dots enable the modular functionality of the device, acting as a means to transfer data and power between the Mod and the phone, as well as magnetically hold all Mods on the device.  This is where Moto’s true innovation shows itself, breaking the mould and showing that smartphone innovation can go beyond software.  With Moto mods, your phone can be whatever you want it to be (almost).

Moto Mods

Moto Mods

The main differentiator of the Moto Z versus every other phone on the market is the functionality to snap on Moto Mods to add new features to the phone.  Currently, Moto offers battery pack mods, style mods, a JBL speaker mod, and a car mount mod.  In a recent interview, it was revealed that Moto plans to release 3 Mods per quarter in 2017, which is an exciting prospect.  For this review, I’m going to focus on the four Mods I found most interesting.

Incipio OffGrid Power Pack

The Incipio OffGrid Power Pack mod is likely the least creative, but most useful of all the Moto Mods.  This is an external battery that snaps onto the back of the Moto Z with ease.  Because the Moto Z is so thin, I always take the Power Pack Mod with me for any days I’m going to be away from a power outlet for more than 10 hours.  Moto claims that the Incipio OffGrid Power Pack adds a whopping 22 hours of battery life to the Moto Z, and I find that pretty accurate.  When I have this battery mod attached, my battery anxiety instantly disappears.  Best of all, because the battery is made for the Moto Z, the edges of the battery flow perfectly from the sides of the Moto Z, making it look like a natural extension of the phone.  This Mod is a must-have for any Moto Z owner.

JBL SoundBoost Speaker

JBL Soundboost Speaker Mod

The JBL SoundBoost speaker adds powerful stereo sound to the Moto Z, along with a useful kickstand.  The SoundBoost speaker also has a built-in charging port, allowing you to charge the integrated speaker battery using USB-C separate from the phone if you choose.  While the speaker is made by a great brand and makes the Moto Z look like a mini boombox, I was disappointed in the quality.  At loud volumes, the speaker outputs sound at a much louder rate than the Moto Z’s built in speakers, but I find the quality a bit distorted.  I didn’t notice this on other reviews online about the speakers, so it’s definitely possible I had a defective unit.  The best part about the JBL SoundBoost Speaker Mod is that because it has a built-in battery, you can listen to music guilt-free for 10 hours without draining any battery from the Moto Z itself. So cool.

Moto Insta-Share Projector

The Moto Insta-Share Projector is by far the most talked about Mod on the market.  This ultra-thin mod transforms your phone into a projector in just a snap.  This mod is by far the most impressive in the currently lineup.  In a device no bigger than your typical smartphone, you can project videos and photos onto the wall at up to 70″ (larger than most TVs).  Plus, the Mod’s battery allows for 1 hour of screen time without using the Moto Z’s internal battery.  With an integrated adjustable kickstand, the Projector Mod adjusts to project on any flat surface, whether the ceiling or a hanging bedsheet.  I found this Mod particularly useful during a power outage I experienced, where I could stream YouTube on my phone using data and project onto my apartment wall.  I can’t get over how fun it is to use.  Imagine having this as a kid.  Sleepovers would be taken up a notch.lscreen”>


I had so much fun playing with the Moto Z Insta-Share Projector.  I had the screen projecting at 82″ and though you could see the pixels, it was fine for my standards.  The image was adjusted to fit my wall and the brightness lowered to match my mood lighting.  The Mod even auto-hides notifications on your phone so that your movie-watching experience is uninterrupted.  My only complaint is that when using the Projector Mod with the Moto Z’s built-in speakers, sound is pretty quiet.  For the best experience, you’ll want to connect your phone to a Bluetooth/Cast-enabled speaker or headphones.  Still – this Mod definitely deserves the hype, and when I’m not using it, I store it in the include drawstring carrying case.

Hasselblad True Zoom

The most creative Mod that Moto has released so far has to be the Hasselblad True Zoom camera.  This $300 Mod is made by the most respected camera company in the world, and adds an incredible 10x optical zoom and a real Xenon flash onto the back of the Moto Z.  If I could bring a backup mod with me everywhere I go, it would be this one.  The photos I took with the Hasselblad mod allowed me to zoom in so close that you’d think I took them with a high-end SLR zoom lens.  The 12MP camera mod can also shoot in RAW format, if you’re really looking to get granular in your editing.  I found the picture quality of the Hasselblad mod to be mediocre compared to the build in Moto Z camera, which is already great.  If you’re going to need a zoom lens of a powerful flash for indoor low light shots, this Mod is for you.

10x Hasselblad Zoom Mod Example

10x Hasselblad Zoom Mod Example

Conclusion

As a big Moto fan, I’m happy that Moto took such a big risk with Moto Mods.  I think their bet is paying off.  If you’re worried about investing in Mods that won’t work with next year’s phone, worry not!  Moto has committed to make mods compatible with at least two generations of Moto Z phones.  This means that my Mod collection will continue to work even on next year’s Moto Z.  With so many phones featuring flashy gimmicks, I think the Moto Z and Moto Mods stand out as truly useful innovation that phone owners will love.  I’ve genuinely enjoyed my time with the device over the past year, and am excited to see where Moto takes Mods next!

In Canada, the Moto Z is available through all major carriers.  The Moto Z Play, which features a larger battery and more budget-friendly specs is available as well at select carriers.  See links for details.

In the United States, Motorola sells the Moto Z, Moto Z Play, as well as the shatterproof screen version Moto Z Force.  Some models are available in GSM unlocked variants, while other are exclusively available through Verizon.  The various Moto Z devices can be compared here.

Giveaway

Now, the part you’ve all been waiting for!  The awesome people at Moto Canada have provided a brand new Moto Z Play that one lucky reader will win.  Fill out the Gleam form below for your chance!  Full terms and conditions are below.

GadgetGuide’s Moto Z Play Giveaway!

440 thoughts on “Moto Z Review + Giveaway! [UPDATE: Contest Closed]

  1. I have seen the commercial and have read reviews, it has everything I am looking for!! I have an old Nokia Lumia 520 it has no useful apps and the camera isn’t very good

  2. I have read the reviews and this would be amazing!!! I need something innovative and this one would work fabulously for me!!! Thanks!!

  3. The MotoMods are the coolest aspect of the phone. Kind of improving on the LG G5 Friends add-ons but it seems like this does a better job.

    • Unfortunately I’ve only had a phone back in grade 9 (my first and last phone). Therefore winning for me, would mean very much as I’d have a phone to use… Sadly I’m in uni and do not own one.

  4. Not only would it be a nice upgrade over my current older model cell, I’d love to play with the Moto Z Insta-Share Projector.

  5. I actually love it for 3 reasons, first it’s the first non google device which is Daydream compatible, second: the Moto mods are kind of opportunity for a lot in the near future, the last, I have the Moto G (1st gen) and still love it, so I want a phone which I don’t have to worry for at least 2 years and I think this the one.

  6. Being able to change my mod based on my need is pretty cool! From speakers to better camera, etc!

    I accidentally typed my name is Jackie M as I forgot it’s linked to my WordPress account!

  7. For fear of embarrasing my kids, I will not reveal how old my phone is, but “Moto” is one of the names that has been recommended to me. So glad to read this review.

  8. Such a great phone I am really excited about the the Hasselblad True Zoom camera…even with a flash! this phone is impressive..would love to update my old one now! thank you for the great review!

  9. A good friend of mine has the Moto G and I love using it…when I can get my hands on it! Winning the Moto Z would be just awesome and give my friend a break from me asking all the time to use hers. I might even make her jealous with those awesome features the Moto Z has!

  10. I would like to win because I have been wanting a smartphone but the cost is outside of my budget and I would love to say goodbye to the high prices of my current landline provider

  11. I would like to win because I don’t even have a smartphone and this one is sweet. I really like the mods, true zoom camera and projector.

  12. That projector sounds like the coolest feature! I’d love to have this phone for so many reasons, but that projector is certainly near the top of the list.

  13. I don’t have a phone right now. Used to have a Motorola and its a fine piece of tech. I hope I’m picked! Good luck everybody!

  14. The new Moto Z sounds exciting. Never owned a Motorola phone or entered a contest before. The Mods sound like the coolest feature.

  15. To be honest, I’d love to win this phone because my current phone just died. The LG G4 has an infamous dreaded Bootloop that finally happened to my phone.. and now it’s just a brick because it LITERALLY just passed 1 year.. But if you want to be specific, I am very interested in the large battery of this phone! Good reviews!

  16. I checked out those two mods at the local Bell store the other day. Super innovative stuff. Turns your phone into the brains of so many devices.

  17. I personally LOVE Moto phones. I had a Moto G and now a Moto X Play (my early 2000s Moto whatever was awesome too!) I’d LOVE to upgrade to an Z Play!!

  18. My husband has one of the first smartphones and it’s not too smart. You can’t even download apps onto it and the screen is broken so I do not like to use it. It would be great to have a cell phone that is current as we both share it.

    Besos Sarah
    Journeys of The Zoo

  19. I would love to win this for my brother as he has never owned a smart phone and has wanted one for a while. I’m a student so this would be a great blessing for him as a gift.

  20. Winning the Moto Z would make my husband and daughters very happy, he is using an old flip phone and his 6 daughters are so embarrassed when he flips it open.

  21. Awesome Review, I would LOVE to win, as my cheap cell phone from Costco was stolen leaving me No cell phone at all =( The Possibility from #MotoMods Smartphone seems Endless Woooohooooo One of a kind for sure!

  22. I would love to win a new moto Z because it would be so much better then using my old phone that the battery overheats and it freezes and restarts. I sure could use a new phone.

  23. I don’t have a phone for one thing, and this is one that I was thinking on getting. It would be great to win it!

  24. Would love a Moto Z! Far better than any other brand. I’d be so proud. Pick me! Happy holidays everyone and good luck in the contest! 🙂

  25. I would love to win because my phone is old , very slow and on the fritz , this would be wonderful , i have heard great things about the Moto-Z , thanks for the chance 🙂

  26. Amazing chance thank you!…my daughter has one and she loves hers! Would love to win this…my IPhone 4 is almost obsolete! Good luck everyone!

  27. I’d like to win the Moto Z because there really is no other phone out there that allows you to add functionality to it so seamlessly.

  28. I want to win this Moto Z phone because I have never owned a cell phone but would love to have one. Thank You for the chance to win one.

  29. I would love to win a Moto Z Play simply because I don’t have a phone right now and this one has so many great features!

  30. I would love to win because this phone is amazing and I am in desperate need of a phone. My current phone buttons are falling off so its on its last leg. Thanks for the chance to win it.

  31. I have always been an iPhone girl but I have heard rave reviews about some android phones and after reading about this one I WOULD love to give it a try. This phone just make make me into an android girl. 😛

  32. I don’t have a Moto phone, although I have a Moto 360 watch which I looooove. I’d love to see what the Moto Z Play is like, it sounds like a fun phone. Do the mods work on the play model or just the Moto Z?

  33. This would b a cool Gadget to win with the help of r children i might actually learn to b High Tech !! have seen commercial for this camera very cool I really like the zoom camera in this phone #Hello Moto !!! and a Merry xmas to u all HOHOHO Moto !!

  34. Pingback: Moto Z Play 32Gb Giveaway | GiveawayToday | Giveaways, Sweepstakes and Contests

  35. It would be awesome to finally own something state of the art and not from several generations ago. 🙂 Also, great review!

  36. I really want to win because I NEED a phone! I am a single parent and any extra (LOL $0) goes to my kids BUT I need a phone…especially one as awesome as this one!
    Thanks for a chance to win!

  37. Thanks for the review! I think the Moto Z looks and sounds like an amazing phone, and I think it would be a excellent replacement phone for my older HTC.

  38. I have an old regular Android phone so it would be nice to have a cool phone like the Moto! Back a few years I purchased the MotoG when they were first out but it was stolen from my purse at the bus stop. Since then, I haven’t been able to upgrade. My kids need one more than I do so I have them some nice phones. But one day…soon.. They’ll have to graduate, get their jobs, and move out! Then I will be able to afford to have the latest phone!

  39. I cant really say exactly what I love about the phone because I haven’t used one yet, but I have to admit it does look nice and statistically seems like something I’d use.

  40. I want to win b/c my current phone is a 1st gen Moto G and while I love it, the camera is really not great. Loving the Moto phones and can’t wait to win this Moto Z with a great camera

  41. I would love this phone not only because of its beautiful design, but also its functionality in my own personal life. I currently have an iPhone and i hate it!!! I want an android phone and this is the one. Again, its beautiful and functional. I really need a phone like this in my life.

  42. I would love to win a Moto Z Play because my phone is old and with a new baby on the way replacing it right now hasn’t been possible.

  43. I love the ability to snap on Moto Mods like the projector. I often to visit my elderly grandfather whose vision isn’t so great and it would be amazing to share pictures and videos with him…that he can actually see. A priceless feature in my opinion!!

  44. I would love to win a Moto because i don’t have a cell and this one looks amazing ! Id love the camera and projector , so awesome !

  45. I always seem to be generations behind as it costs too much to get a brand new top of the line cell phone. I would love to be on top.

  46. Everyone in our house already owns a smart phone… they may not all be the ‘best’ phone but we are all blessed. My daughter has a young friend, however, that is carrying a flip phone. Being in grade 8 the young man is terribly embarrassed and I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that he is also mocked. I want to win this phone so I can give it to him. Thanks for the opportunity to possibly do that for him!

  47. Would love to win my phone is an older generation phone i always seem to be behind as its so expencive to have the newest phones

  48. Honestly I’m 37 years old and a Mother of 4 and I have never had a cell phone,Everytime I get close to saving up to buy one for myself one of the kids needs something. This would be so awesome to win because pay phones are starting to really get hard to find! What a great way to start out the New Year, thank you for the chance!

  49. My little 15 month old scientist son dropped my old phone into the toilet. I have been phone free for over 2 months because I cant afford a new one at this time. This phone would be a lifesaver!

  50. I’d love to win one because my daughter’s friend is carrying a flip phone – and as a young man in grade 8 he can’t help but be a little embarrassed when being mocked. No one deserves that! I’d love to be able to give him a great phone! Thanks!

  51. I’d love to win this for my Mom. She’s never had a cell phone before and I think this one would be a great phone to start her with!

  52. Moto phones are not your average smartphone and this one is no exception. The modular add-ons actually seem to be useful and integrate well with the phone.

  53. I’d love to win the Moto Z for several reasons!

    1) My phone (Sony Xperia z1) is almost 3 yrs old and I’ve had to factory reset it several times due to performance issues. Even after reboots it is still super slow and lags a lot which hinders and delays the work I do on my phone.
    2) I can’t afford to buy a new phone as I’m unemployed due to health disabilities so winning the Moto Z would be a huge help and blessing!
    3) I’m on my phone constantly so the extended battery mod is a huge selling feature for me! To have it last 20 hrs without plugging in would be amazing! Currently I get about 2 hrs battery life which is terrible.
    4) I am a beginner product reviewer, social media influencer and soon to be Blogger so I really need a phone that will keep up with all of the Web surfing I need to do along with the social media networks I’m on and the Moto Z sounds like it offers amazing speed and performance.
    5) Since I do product reviews and I’m currently developing a blog, I take a lot of photos of products and I don’t have a good quality camera in my phone. I have a cheap $100 point and shoot camera that I use but I really need an SLR to take high quality, up close photos. I can’t afford to buy one so the hasselblad mod would be perfect for me!
    6) I love the lightweight and slim design of the Moto Z and the sleek look!
    7) I love the option of having the projector mod to project photos and videos on the wall! That is so awesome!
    8) Due to chronic health conditions, I spend a lot of time in bed on my phone so having one that performs well would be of such benefit to me.

    I could go on and on because the phone sounds amazing but these are my top reasons for wanting/needing to win this contest. Thanks so much for the chance!

  54. I’m still using a blackberry 9900 and although I love the keyboard, my camera is horrible, and my OS is practically obsolete. I love the moto z because of the Android OS, the camera, and the long battery life. Thank you for this awesome giveaway! Good luck everyone!

  55. After a ripoff iPhone deal left me with a buggy phone I grabbed a bottom shelf Android monthly plan phone to cover me till my contract ran out. Well after a quick adjustment period…kinda of glad. Now i want to upgrade so bad and would love to love to get a Moto Z!

  56. I would love to with the Moto Zealand smartphone because I am afraid my phone is going to break soon, since it already has some minor issues.

  57. First of all,nice review man.And I’d love to get my hands on this phone because of the amazing camera and battery life it provides.Hope to win this giveaway.But more importantly,love to win this phone from you.

  58. I’d love to win because I could really use a new phone. My current phone is on the fritz! Thanks for the chance to win!

  59. A Motorola used to be my very first cell phone I would love to go back to my first love! Besides, I need a new phone 🙂

  60. I would love to win simply because my phone is almost dead I dropped in hospital while I was there and it landed in some water I had spilled on the floor knocking it over in the night.This would be a perfect phone for me it’s the same as I had and I loved it.

  61. I love the new trend of phones that you can modify to personalize your experience! I’ve had Motorola phones in the past and they’ve always been great, can’t wait to use the Moto Z!

  62. For years I’ve had a cell phone and used it for EVERYTHING. I’m lost without a phone that has the ability to be my wallet, day planner, calendar and so much more. I miss having a phone and know job searching and having a number to leave would increase my chances of reaching my goals. Winning this phone would be life changing

  63. It appears that I can only enter this contest by allowing you access to my twitter account. I “followed” as per the instructions & it did not unlock more ways to enter. I cannot proceed unless I hand over access to my acct on twitter! I call shenanigans!!!

  64. I’ve heard nothing but awesome things about the Moto Z. I’m currently completely out dated with my phone (Samsung Corby) outdated as in not even in the smart phone category.
    Thanks for the giveaway and the review.

  65. Heard god things about the Moto Z currently I have an older Iphone that I almost have to leave plugged in at all times. lol

  66. Sure could use winning this phone in the giveaway then my husband and I can stop sharing a phone. This looks like a cool phone to use. Thanks for the review and for the chances in the giveaway…good luck to all who enter.

  67. I have not had a cell phone for at least 10 years and figure I need to get one. this one looks good but I would probably have a hard time figuring it out. LOL

  68. I’d love to win the Moto Z for the incredible Hasselblad camera technology. They’re bound to give Apple a run for their money!

  69. Hey….I am an Indian and a die hard fan of tyler rochwerg’s reviews.Is contest open to India even if I agree to pay for the shipment and customs.Please don’t say no.Jst a doubt.😰😰

  70. Definitely the most advanced and customizable phone in the western market. I was planning on getting this phone once I could afford it, actually. It would probably replace me having to get a new laptop and camera completely.

    Revolutionary!

  71. I love the idea of a truly adaptable cell phone as well the company being commited to at least two generations of Moto Z phones.

  72. I’d love to win this Moto Z Play smartphone, because it has the JBL SoundBoost speaker. I am often streaming music, so this would be such an upgrade from my current phone.

  73. I’d LOVE to win this as an upgrade to my current MOTO G4+. It is a great phone but doesn’t have all of the amazing features that this one does.

  74. I really, really hope to win this phone because it looks great and sounds almost too good to be true. If it is as easy to use and also charge it will be soooo GREAT!!

  75. I’ve never had a good smart phone, just the cheap under $100 ones on the pay as you go plans and I would LOVE to have one like everyone else I know has. It would be wonderful to be able to watch videos and TV on a phone like everyone else does.

  76. I have the Moto G….which is an older product and I absolutely love it. i had the Moto Z….I’m sure I’d be through the roof!

  77. Have the Moto X and boy would I love an upgrade. I love showing my kids how much my Moto X can do compared to there expensive iPhone’s!

  78. I’d love to win because I can only afford a most basic smart phone, with poor cameras, poor sound quality, and slow response. What a quantum leap this will be!

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