Moto Z Force — It’s All About the Mods

I spent a couple months with the Z Force and came to the conclusion that it is all about the Mods. I was fortunate enough to get all of the current Mods they had– the JBL Soundboost Speaker, the Hasselblad True Zoom camera, the Moto Insta-Share Projector, and (unfortunately) the Incipio offGRID Power Pack. Here’s what I thought:

Moto Insta-Share Projector:
By far the coolest of the mods. The ability to find an empty wall of any size and throw up a movie, or football game is incredible. All you need is a stable platform and the projector took over. It was easy to zoom into focus so even the score in the corner was readable. And it seemed to fit itself to the space — if I pointed at a big wall, it filled the wall and then if I flipped it to a smaller open space it fit down. I would use this often for presentations as well as fun. And surprisingly, it’s quite comfortable to lay on a couch and project up the the ceiling. Sound is a little iffy only using the phone speakers — someone suggested I figure out a way to combine the speaker with the projector. Now that would be cool!

JBL Speaker:
They rock. And the kickstand was great to set it on the counter, point the speakers towards me, and just rock out. And with separate charging capabilities and a 10 hour battery, the phone wasn’t sucked dry doing it. If the Mod gets low, it will draw from the phone. When charging with the Mod in place, it fills the phone first, then works on the speaker. I found that even overnight charging with both dead, wasn’t enough to fully charge both. But that’s where the separate charger comes in since I didn’t need the speaker all day. The first call I took with the speaker blew me away — I took the phone off speaker. These are definitely for music. It makes the phone very heavy. It is not a Mod you would leave on all the time and carry in your pocket.

Hasselblad Camera:
While visiting the Moto booth at CTIA, they had the newly released camera, but no live phones, so I popped it onto my phone (which freaked the Moto rep out) to try it before ordering it. Let me tell you, it is an impressive camera. The 10x True Zoom really came in close and sharp. The pictures were incredibly clear and true to life image quality. I would have preferred the ability to tap the phone screen to capture the picture rather than the camera button, but I understand it is designed to be a digital camera first.

Incipio offGRID Power Pack:
Unfortunately, before we got this, our Moto Z Force was not making it through the day. Sad to say, in today’s smartphone battery world. But then again, with 8 email accounts syncing on the device, my battery experience is never the same as the average user. I have always contended that Moto overstates their battery life — and even their own site admits it is tested in prime circumstances — but I was not coming close to 29 hours of use or 20 days standby. Maybe 10 hours off the charger, and not all of that in use as it sits idle on the desk. But once I got the power pack, I never struggled again. Most days the power pack itself never drained out. The say up to 22 hours on the mod — I’d say 14 hours. Either way, it did the trick. It adds some weight (79 grams) to the phone and not much bulk (6.2 mm thick) — noticeable but not a deal breaker.

How much will all the cool gadgets set you back? A whopping $770 for everything (plus $720 for the phone currently) — $60 – $90 for the power pack as wireless charging option ups the price $20, $80 for the speaker, and $300 each for the camera and projector. Another $20 each if you want swappable backs to customize it.

How’s the phone? I’d give it a 82/100 a solid B-. The lack of juice without the power pack was less than desirable for me even with the Turbo charging. And until USB C is in more phones and we all have a pile of extra cables sitting around, it will continue to haunt. When I landed at CTIA, I discovered I had no USB C cables for the car charger solved by a quick trip to Best Buy and $30 later I had a lovely baby blue cord setup in the rental. And no headphone jack meant using the adapter they give you or going wireless — if you go with the standard plug, you won’t be able to charge the phone at the same time. However, it does have it’s upsides. A 5.5″ AMOLED display with 2560 x 1440 resolution was great. Surprising how quickly I’ve jumped from the 4.7″ GS4 which I thought was big to wanting the 5.5″ screen real estate. Guaranteed shatterproof display backed by Motorola – and it did fall off the bike while moving at around 20 MPH with no cracks, but did scratch. Side note -as we experienced with another Moto device, that means shipping it to them for repair and being without it for 2-3 weeks or paying $25 and a variable hold for them to send you the replacement first. Water-repellent coating — didn’t put this to the test, why risk it? It is important to note, as opposed to the Samsung phones which say they are waterproof, Moto used a nano coating to resist splashes but are not submersible. And a 21 MP rear 5 MP front camera gave me all the camera I could use for a normal smartphone. And thankfully, expandable micrroSD card with up to 2 TB support, allowed me to setup and go with relative ease. The processor and 4 GB RAM are top-tier and the phone moved along smoothly through all the apps.

What’s the verdict? If you have a desire for any of the Mods, then this is the phone to go for — just expect to spend more. Otherwise, there are better performing phones for the $720 price tag or less.


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