Only a couple of months back in June, Motorola has announced a pair of modular smartphones which will take on the likes of the LG G5 with new Moto Mods accessories. Now there's a third model, the Moto Z Play. Here's everything you need to know about the Moto Z Play, Moto Z and Moto Z Force including release date, estimated price, specs and features. Also see: Best phones 2016.
Update 31 August: Even though the Moto Z isn't yet on sale in the UK, Motorola has announced a new member of the family: the Moto Z Play. This is a cheaper version with a headphone jack, and it will cost £369.99 in the UK.
Alongside the launch at IFA in Berlin, Motorola also unveiled the latest Moto Mod, the £199.99 Hasselblad True Zoom. This is an optical zoom camera which attaches to the Moto Z series with strong magnets. Created in partnership with legendary camera maker Hasselblad, it's a step further on from similar collaborations we've seen with Huawei and Leica on the P9.
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The 12Mp Hasselblad camera isn't cheap and it's pretty bulky (it weighs almost as much as the phone at 145g), but it does address that one problem with smartphone cameras: the absence of a zoom. We've tried it out and it appears to work seamlessly with the Moto Z Play's camera app. It has its own power button, which launches the app, and a dual-stage shutter button. You can shoot both photos and video, and the zoom - plus stabilisation - works in both modes, although it's electronic rather than optical when shooting video. Also see: Moto X4 latest rumours
From our limited testing of the new phone and Moto Mod, it can take stunning pictures and the stabilisation works well even at full zoom. The price for both phone and camera should rival the Galaxy S7 Edge and make a compelling addition to any phone photographer's shortlist when it comes time for their next upgrade.
Now owned by Lenovo, the Moto Z smartphones were originally announced in San Francisco at Lenovo Tech World alongside the first Project Tango phone, the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro. We thought that the Moto Z range might be a replacement for the Moto X but they have been described as a 'new family' implying that this is not the case.
Some phones are announced and available the same day, while most a typically on sale after a few days or weeks. Things are a lot more complicated with the Moto Z's global rollout, however, so here's the deal in chronological order.
First of all, the Moto Z Droid and Moto Z Force Droid (as they are called in the US) will be available 'this summer' with Verizon, Best Buy and Motorola itself. The Moto Mods will launch at the same time and unlocked versions of the phones will arrive 'this autumn'.
Globally, including in the UK, the Moto Z and Moto Z Play will be available 'beginning in September' including Moto Mods.
Prices for the UK are slightly unclear. The Moto Z Play will cost 499 Euros, which right now seems to translate to £449. We can expect a premium price for the Moto Z but it should be cheaper than the iPhone 6S and Galaxy S7, according to PhoneArena. Oddly, Motorola's UK site doesn't even list the Moto Z Force.
Motorola Moto Z specs and features
As there are three phones in the new Moto Z range we'll look at the specs of each separately. Before that, let's look at the Moto Mods which is one of the key reasons to buy the Moto Z phones over others. They look similar in design to the recently launched Moto G4 smartphones.
The Moto Z phones are modular but in a different way to the LG G5 which has a removable chin. Instead, Motorola has created Moto Mods which snap onto the back of the phone like a rear cover. They attach with high powered magnets and the system will work with future Moto Z phones.
A few have been announced but the firm is working on more and hoping for plenty of third-party additions, too.
The first Moto Mod is the JBL SoundBoost which turns the Moto Z into a tiny boombox thanks to bigger speakers. There's also the Moto Insta-Share Projector which can create a screen of 70in. If you simply need more battery life the Power Pack will add up to 22 hours to the Moto Z. Watch the Moto Mods video at the bottom of the page.
There are also Moto Shells if you just want to easily change the look and style of your Moto Z including real wood, leather and fabric.
Pricing for Moto Mods has just been announced and is as follows:
Hasselblad True Zoom - £199.99
Official Motorola Moto Mod Insta-Share Projector - £249.99
JBL SoundBoost Moto Mod Speaker Case - £69.99
PowerPack extended battery case - £59.99
- Android 6.0 Marshmallow
- 5.5in Super AMOLED screen, 1920x1080, 403ppi
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 625
- Adreno 506 GPU
- 3GB LPDDR3 RAM
- 32GB storage (microSD up to 2TB)
- 16Mp rear camera
- 5Mp front camera
- Bluetooth 4.0
- 802.11n dual-band Wi-Fi
- Single nano SIM (UK model)
- USB-C port
- 3.5mm headphone jack
- 3150mAh battery
- Sensors: Fingerprint reader, Accelerometer, Ambient Light, Gyroscope, Hall Effect, Magnetometer, Proximity
- Dimensions: 156.4 x 76.4 x 6.99mm
The new Moto Z Play supports TurboPower which is claimed to give up to nine hours' use from just 15 minutes' charging. It's disappointing that yet again the UK model has only a single SIM slot, but is dual SIM in other countries.
Moto Z specs
First things first, Motorola is claiming the Moto Z as the world's thinnest smartphone at just 5.2mm. This doesn't actually beat the Kazam Tornado 348 which is technically 5.15mm – although we measured it at 5.3mm so we'll have to get the calipers out again to see which the real winner is. The Moto Z is made from aircraft-grade aluminium and stainless steel.
Moving on and the regular Moto Z features a 5.5in Quad HD AMOLED screen and is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor so it looks like it will be a key OnePlus 3 rival. There's 4GB of RAM and either 32- or 64GB of storage plus a Micro-SD card slot able to take up to 2TB cards.
For photographers, there's a 13Mp rear camera with optical image stabilisation and a laser autofocus. At the front is a 5Mp shooter with a wide-angle lens for fitting more into your selfies and a flash for when it's darker.
Other features of the Moto Z include a touted 30 hour battery life, a fingerprint scanner, a water-repellent coating and fast charging with eight hours of juice from 15 minutes of charging via TurboPower.
Something which Motorola fails to mention in the press release is that the Moto Z doesn't have a headphone jack, beating the iPhone 7 to it (if that rumour is true). Instead you'll need to rely on the Micro-USB Type-C port and the included adapter.
Moto Z Force specs
The Moto Z Force (above) is a similar phone to the regular model with a few tweaks. Core specs like the screen, processor, memory and storage remain the same.
Motorola is touting the second generations of Moto ShatterSheild tech which gurarantees the phone won't crack or shatter when you drop it. It's thicker and heavier as a result at 7mm and 163g. The other key difference is a 21Mp rear camera which also has OIS and laser autofocus but also phase detection autofocus.
Also featuring TurboPower, the Moto Z Force has a larger battery than the regular model at 3500mAh compared to 2600mAh. Both run on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow.
Read next: Best new phones coming in 2016.