In the year of 2016, we have seen a plethora of amazing (and somewhat lackluster) high-end smartphones hit the market. Among these incredible releases are the Samsung Galaxy S7, the Apple iPhone 7, the HTC 10, and the LG G5. However, the year is still far from over, and that means we still have some new phones to cover. Answering that call is Motorola with their new flagship phone the Moto Z, and its mid-high range brother the Moto Z Play.
This review will be focusing on the standard Moto Z and what it has to offer. Which, if you’ve been keeping up with the news about Motorola’s latest phones, should leave you impressed. Along with an incredible design inside and out, the Moto Z comes with all the bells and whistles one would expect from a flagship phone, a wonderful camera on the front and back, and they’ve even taken a leap into the external modification pool with Moto Mods—which I’ll be covering in a separate review.
The metal body of the Moto Z feels very durable and gives it a sleek look, but I did notice an ever so slight flexibility to it when I put it under some stress. I do recommend a phone back, as the dark colouring tends to show smudges pretty obnoxiously. Measuring in at just over six inches long and weighing just less than five ounces, it’s also a pretty hefty phone. A five-and-a-half inch screen is housed on the front of the Moto Z, and it brings a lot to the party. We are treated to 1440x2560 glorious pixels of resolution on an AMOLED screen. What does that mean? Well, I hope you like taking pictures, but I’ll get into that a little further down. Oh, and if you’re suffering from an unfortunate case of phone-dropitis, the screen is protected with Gorilla Glass 4, so you can expect it to take a fair amount of abuse. During the review process I had a couple gasp-inducing drops with it, and there was no noticeable damage. At least that I could see.
The guts of the phone are on par with other flagship phones of the year. A Quad-core 820 Snapdragon processor, an Adreno 530 GPU, and 4 GB of RAM are the notable internals. In terms of storage, you can get up to 64 GB along with a microSD up to 256 GB. For you mobile gamers out there, all of this is plenty enough to handle the most intensive games on the market.
The cameras on the Moto Z are great focal points of this phone and are among the best I’ve used this year. Beginning with the back camera, which shoots at 13 MP with an f/1.8 aperture and laser autofocus, you’ll be hard-pressed to avoid taking pictures or filming. Speaking of which, you can shoot video at 60fps in 1080p, or up to 2160p at 30fps. At this rate, we’ll be filming major movies on smartphones within a few years. My favourite little feature of the phone is giving it a couple little twists, which will open the camera. Pretty quickly I might add. Doing this while the camera is open will switch it to its counterpart on the front of the phone. The front camera, shooting at 5 MP with an f/2.2, performs fairly well. The focus is near instant, and it has a flash so you can pump out midnight selfies to your heart’s desire.
In terms of the other features, again the Moto Z has pretty much everything you would expect from competing high-end phones. You get a fingerprint sensor, an accelerometer, and (thankfully) a gyro. I’ve used a couple phones that didn’t have a built-in gyro and it was definitely a hindrance, especially with games that required you to tilt the phone. The phone also has fast-charging for the battery, which is a welcome addition considering the battery that’s in here is only a 2600 mAh battery, and it’s my biggest gripe with the phone. Many of this year’s biggest phones are utilizing a battery at or around 3000 mAh, which makes a world of difference. When in idle, the Moto Z will go from full to below 50% within a couple days, and you can end up hitting that within a full day of use. As I said though, they compensate this with fast charging. I plugged in the phone at 30% one time, and in just over half an hour, it was already near 90%. Whichever company can pair this feature with the monster 3000+ batteries, will most likely become the leaders of the market.
Motorola has gone all out with their latest flagship phone, giving the market a great piece of equipment even this late in the year. It’s been a very challenging year and I was initially skeptical of the phone until I got my hands on it. Having the opportunity to try out some of this year’s best smartphones, I had a cornucopia of things to compare the Moto Z against. I’m happy to conclude that it hit many of those marks with only a couple bumps. If you’re someone who likes to get the latest high-end phones later in the market year, you’ll be glad you waited for this one.