Moto Z2 Force review: Motorola’s new modular phone has shatterproof display
Motorola’s Z2 Force will take on the likes of OnePlus 5T and Samsung Galaxy A8+. Does the new modular phone impress us? Find out in our detailed review.tech reviews Updated: Mar 01, 2018 16:39 IST
Motorola last week introduced its flagship smartphone Moto Z2 Force in India, almost six months after the global announcement. Even though a bit late to the Indian market, the delay allows Motorola to keep the price competitive at Rs 34,999 and keep the Rs 30,000-Rs 40,000 category buzzing.
Moto Z2 Force can be best described as the smartphone that attempts to bridge the best of two worlds — Motorola’s Z lineup of premium phones that are high on design and have high-end specifications, and the X lineup that are more rugged and an affordable alternative to the expensive flagship phones.
Motorola’s new phone has Moto Z series’ modular functionality, premium and ultra slim design and top-of-the-line specifications. It also has Moto X Force’s Shattershield display that prevents the phone from dents and abrasion, a common painpoint for users who own an expensive smartphone.
In a bid to make the phone a more compelling proposition, Motorola is bundling a free Moto TurboPower Mod, which can be snapped on the rear of Moto Z2 Force for added more battery life.
In theory, it sounds very good and perhaps already a winner. But let’s not forget that the Rs 30,000-Rs 40,000 segment has some extremely good smartphones such as OnePlus 5T, Samsung Galaxy A8+ and Xiaomi Mi MIX 2. So, let’s find out how good Moto Z2 Force is in reality.
In the last couple of years, Motorola’s Z series have undergone mild changes in design. Fortunately, I had the chance to review the first-generation Moto Z smartphone a few years ago. The latest Moto Z2 Force retains various elements of the original design such as an ultra slim profile (6.1mm thickness). And at the same time it improves on certain design elements. For instance, Z2 Force has more comfortable edges, unlike the original Moto Z that had very sharp sides. There’s a bit of resemblance to mid-range Moto Z2 Play as well. The result, however, is quite impressive.
The front has dominated display while the top panel features front camera, LED flash and a mic slot that also houses the speaker, a clever choice for positioning the audio output. The bottom bezel has the fingerprint scanner which doubles up as the home button. While the left edge is barren, the right edge has volume and power buttons, which are well within the reach of your fingertips.
The base just has USB Type-C connection, and yes, you guessed it right, it doesn’t have the 3.5mm audio port. So, you have to rely on the connector cable that’s bundled with the phone to listen to audio via headphones. Or, just get a Bluetooth headphone.
The metal back panel sports Motorola’s iconic luxury-watch like crown within which is the dual camera setup. As usual, the crown is a bit protruding but during my usage, it didn’t get scratched or smudged at any point. At the bottom is the 16-dot magnetic gold plated connector for connecting the Moto Mods.
Let’s address the elephant in the room. The Moto Z2 Force doesn’t have an edge-to-edge display, a trend in which Motorola has clearly fallen behind. Well, let’s not forget it’s a July 2017 model, an era when “bezel-less” buzz was at its nascent stage.
Samsung Galaxy A8+ and OnePlus 5T, however, have already pulled off a full-screen phone in this price category. It’ll be interesting to see how Motorola will be crafting full-screen phones in the future that will also have the Shattershield protection.
Not having the trendy 18:9 screen doesn’t mean Moto Z2 Force’s display is a slouch. Rocking a 5.5-inch screen with Quad HD resolution and POLED panel, Moto Z2 Force display is vibrant and offers rich colours. While auto-brightness works just fine, it delivers near-excellent viewing angles. Watching high resolution videos or browsing images on this phone is a treat.
Though, I believe multimedia streaming on a high-resolution full-screen phone is far more entertaining and immersive than the older format. If I were reviewing the phone a few months ago, my take would have been slightly different.
Inclusion of Shattershield technology ensures the phone is capable of handling dents and drops at rough surfaces without screen shattering. Motorola claims the screen won’t shatter if you drop it from 4–5 feet of height. We did drop the phone at rough surfaces and even wooden floors, the screen did not break. But, the phone did suffer a few minor noticeable scratches over a period of time.
It may be behind in joining the full-screen trend, but Motorola did hop on to the dual-camera bandwagon with Z2 Force. It features a combination of two 12-megapixel cameras with IMX 386 sensors, f/2.0 aperture, 1.2um pixels, Phase Detection Auto Focus (PDAF) and laser auto focus.
Moto Z2 Force delivers near-excellent results in bright light conditions; photos come rich in colours, sharp and well-adjusted brightness and contrast ratio. It takes impressive macro shots.
The HDR mode, however, adds more life to the photos, filling in shadows and amplifying colours, but not to the levels where they start to seem over-saturated. This mode comes really handy when taking photos in low-light conditions.
Another highlight of the smartphone is a dedicated monochrome mode. If you’re into black and white photography, the mode can be very handy. It’s not as impressive as Huawei’s Leica-certified P10 smartphone, but gets the job done nonetheless.
There’s also a depth mode, which lets you create shallow depth-of-field effect. The portraits are pretty much average and you’re good without the mode, in our opinion.
The phone, however, struggled a bit when it came to night photography. The photos are a bit darker than you’d expect, though it doesn’t spoil the details much. The pre-loaded Pro mode can come in handy if you’re well informed about how to control shutter speeds, ISO levels and white balance. On auto mode, results won’t blow your mind.
The selfie-camera, on the other hand, is pretty average. There’s an adjustable beautification mode. But there are so many phones that deliver better selfies at much lower price, for instance, Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro which costs less than half of Moto Z2 Force. Though the LED flash on the front helps you get better selfies with Moto Z2 Force, don’t hold your breath for it.
Running on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 processor and 6GB of RAM, Moto Z2 Force doesn’t disappoint in the performance department. It handles graphic intensive games like Marvel Clash of Champions and Marvel Future Fight with ease. From basic functionalities like multitasking, shuffling between apps to prolonged multimedia streaming, Moto Z2 Force delivers quite satisfying performance.
Good news is that it runs on Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box. Motorola continues the tradition of offering near-stock Android UI. It does come with pre-loaded Moto software-based features, which we have talked about in length here. These features are quite useful. One of my favourites is the shake action, to switch on the Flashlight.
Battery life, however, is pretty much average. On full charge to maximum capacity, you can see a day on moderate to medium usage. Though, on extensive usage, say prolonged sessions of multimedia streaming, browsing and mobile photography, the battery might drain out before the end of the day.
That’s when the bundled Mod comes in handy. It fits easily with Moto Z2 Force without making it very heavy or uncomfortable to carry. The mod adds at least 6–8 hours of battery life depending upon usage. The battery mod is far better than carrying a bulky power bank and a cable along with it. With the mod on, most of the people will not even realise the phone has an additional accessory attached. The bundled 15W TurboPower charger quickly charges the phone and can be used to charge the mod as well.
There are two modes to charge the phone battery via the Mod — ‘Turbo’ for faster charging and ‘Efficiency’. The former charges the phone quickly whereas the Efficiency option maximises usage time by keeping your phone battery at 80%. We will recommend using the second option as using the Turbo mode, the phone starts to heat up a lot.
Moto Z2 Force is another excellent alternative for someone who’s looking for a phone with premium design that does not compromise on specifications and features. Top-notch performance and premium design are its strength. And the free battery Mod makes the device more compelling.