2016 Android Reviews

Moto Z Review: Snapping into the modular future

When Lenovo introduced the Moto Z at their Tech World Event back in June, they introduced the world to their vision of a modular smartphone with Moto Mods, which can instantly change the function or look of your Moto Z.

After using the Moto Z for a few weeks now, this is one of the best phones that Moto & Lenovo has made in recent years.

In this review, I will cover the following areas:

  • Design & Hardware (hardware and specs)
  • Software (all about that Android)
  • Camera (a picture is worth a thousand word right?)

Design & Hardware


The Moto Z has a 5.5-inch Quad HD display which looks great from all angles, no matter how you look at it. That is paired with an all-metal body and this is the thinnest smartphone out there.

The battery on the Moto Z is 2,600 mAh which should give you about 30 hours of mixed usage. In my testing, I was able to get that much out of it and the standby time is great too, thanks to Doze in Android 6.0. It also has TurboPower which can give you up to 8 hours of battery in just 15 minutes of charging.


The Moto Z use USB Type-C and because the phone is so thin, there is no 3.5mm headphone jack, but there is a USB Type-C to 3.5mm adapter included in the box.

It’s being powered by a Snapdragon 820 processor with 4GB of RAM, which is plenty for everyday tasks and some gaming.  You can also get it with 32GB or 64GB of internal storage and there’s a microSD card slot for up to 2TB. For this review, I used SanDisk Ultra 200GB MicroSD (which I used for this review and it works well and was quick and reliable by offering speeds of 90 MB/s).


Below the screen on the Moto Z, you’ll find a fingerprint sensor which is fairly quick at unlocking the device and while the screen is on, if you put your finger on the fingerprint sensor again, it will lock the device.


With the Moto Z, Moto also introduced Moto Mods which was a new way of looking a modular phones. The Moto Mods system attaches to your Moto smartphone using a set of 16 pins on the back and stays on via magnets.

The Incipio offGRID power pack Moto Mod.

There are a few Moto Mods that are available now, there’s the Incipio offGRID power pack, which is basically a battery pack (almost like a Mophie case to an iPhone) and it retails for $89 CAD.

The current lineup of Moto Mods.
The current lineup of Moto Mods.

If music is more of your thing, there’s the JBL SoundBoost Speaker Moto Mod that retails for $99 CAD.


Then there’s the Moto Insta-Share Projector, which basically adds a pico projector to your device and retails for $399 CAD.

And finally there’s the Hasselblad True Zoom Moto Mod which give you and 12-megapixel external camera sensor with 10x Optical Zoom and also allow you to take RAW photos and goes for $349 CAD.

In addition to Moto Mods, there are Moto Style Shells that are just back plates for the Moto Z, they retail for $29 CAD and come in a range of colours including Red Ballistic, Black Leather, Silver Oak.

Moto is really pushing for Moto Mods to be the future and has plans for partnerships with lots of companies and is also opening up their platform as well.


The Moto Z is available in three colour options, Black with Lunar Grey trim (& Black front lens), Black with Rose Gold Trim (& Black front lens) and Fine Gold (& White front lens) but not all colour options may be available in Canada. The Moto Z goes for $900 CAD off-contract or $199 CAD on-contract and is available from Bell, Koodo (Online Only), Rogers, Sasktel, TBooth, TELUS, WIND, and WirelessWave.


Android 6.0 Marshmallow, that released in 2015.
Android 6.0 Marshmallow, the latest version of the platform that released in 2015.


The Moto Z is one of the first Moto phones running Android 6.0 (the other being the Moto Z Play), and just like past Moto devices, it’s running near stock Android apart from the bundled Moto apps that control the Moto Display.

Other than that, you’ll still get access to Android 6.0 Marshmallow’s new features like Google Now on Tap (which has become more and more useful), custom app permissions, granular app & memory management, improved microSD card support.


Also Moto relies more on Google’s apps rather than duplicating them, for example, the gallery app is just the Google Photos app.



The main camera on the Moto Z is 16-megapixels with f/2.0 aperture, laser autofocus, dual LED flash and there’s zero shutter lag. The front-facing camera is 5-megapixels and has an LED flash.


Photos look good on the Moto Z, you can see a lot of detail and colours. The camera might not be great in every situation especially in low-light (the Google Pixel and Galaxy S7 are best for low-light photos). The Moto Z is also capable of taking up to 4K videos at 30fps and 1080p videos at 60fps. It can also do slow-motion video.

The video quality from the Moto Z looks fine and should be great for the average user.

Final Thoughts


Moto did a great job with the Moto Z and the addition of Moto Mods is an interesting approach to a modular smartphone. However, those Moto Mods can get expensive, even if you were to buy just the $399 Insta-Share projector.

The Moto Z is a great phone, even though it may not be the best, it’s still a worthy alternative to someone who doesn’t want a Galaxy S7 or Google Pixel.



Great display

+ Solid performance

+ Great battery life

+ Good camera

Nice & thin design (& Interesting take on modular phones)

+ Expandable storage


– No 3.5mm headphone jack

– Phone is expensive (especially in Canada)

– Moto Mods are expensive


By Sachin Bahal

Sachin is a talented and versatile writer with a passion for technology and loves to write about gaming, entertainment, tech and more. He started TheCanadianTechie back in 2012 to become the ultimate, independent source for tech enthusiasts or “techies”.

2 replies on “Moto Z Review: Snapping into the modular future”

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