Motorola recently held its #hellomotoworld event in New York City, and though the Lenovo subsidiary did not unveil the rumored Moto X4, it did announce the Moto Z2 Force, the successor to 2016’s Moto Z Force. With a Snapdragon 835 and a dual-camera system, the Moto Z2 Force looks to be the closest thing to a flagship that Motorola will have this year.

However, Motorola’s naming conventions during the past year with its Z-line of handsets might make it a bit difficult for some folks to tell the difference between the Moto Z2 Force and other Z-branded phones. It also does not help that Motorola launched two flagship Moto Zs last year and only launched one for this year.

Today, we’re going to clear the air a bit and minimize some of that confusion for you by comparing the Moto Z2 Force to the Moto Z2 Play and the Moto Z Force.

 Moto Z2 ForceMoto Z2 PlayMoto Z Force
Display5.5-inch Super AMOLED ShatterShield
2560 x 1440 resolution
535 ppi
5.5-inch Super AMOLED
1920 x 1080 resolution
401 ppi
5.5-inch Super AMOLED
ShatterShield
2560 x 1440 resolution
535 ppi
Processor2.35 GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 8352.2 GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 6262.15 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820
GPUAdreno 540Adreno 506Adreno 530
RAM4 GB (U.S.)
6 GB (Rest of world)
LPDDR4
3/4 GB
LPDDR3
4 GB
LPDDR4
Internal storage64 GB (U.S.)
128 GB (China)
microSD expansion up to 2 TB
32/64 GB
microSD expansion up to 2 TB
32/64 GB
microSD expansion up to 2 TB
Headphone jackNoYesNo
CamerasRear camera 1: 12 MP IMX 386 color sensor with 1.25 µm pixels, ƒ/2.0 aperture, PDAF, laser-assisted autofocus
Rear camera 2: 12 MP IMX 386 monochrome sensor with 1.25 µm pixels, ƒ/2.0 aperture, PDAF, laser-assisted autofocus

Front: 5 MP sensor with ƒ/2.2 aperture, 85-degree wide-angle lens, dual-tone flash
Rear: 12 MP Dual Autofocus Pixel sensor with 1.4 µm pixels, ƒ/1.7 aperture, PDAF, laser-assisted autofocus

Front: 5 MP sensor with 1.4 µm pixels, ƒ/2.2 aperture, wide-angle lens, LED flash
Rear: 21 MP sensor with 1.12 µm pixels, ƒ/1.8 aperture, OIS, PDAF, laser-assisted autofocus

Front: 5 MP sensor with 1.4 µm pixels, ƒ/2.2 aperture, wide-angle lens, LED flash
Battery2,730 mAh
Non-removable
3,000 mAh
Non-removable
3,500 mAh
Non-removable
Water resistanceWater-repellant nano-coatingWater-repellant nano-coatingWater-repellant nano-coating
SoftwareAndroid 7.1.1 NougatAndroid 7.1.1 NougatAndroid 7.0 Nougat
Dimensions and weight155.8 x 76 x 6.1 mm
143 g
156.2 x 76.2 x 5.99 mm
145 g
155.9 x 75.8 x 7 mm
163 g

All three phones rock 5.5-inch displays, but the Z2 Play sticks to Full HD resolution. The Z2 Force and the Z Force, meanwhile, bump things up to Quad HD resolution and feature ShatterShield technology. Marketing jargon aside, the two flagships feature displays that promise not to shatter or crack from everyday falls. However, since the front layers of these displays are plastic, the Z2 Force’s and original Z Force’s displays will scratch easier than others, though the front layer can be replaced.

Under the hood, the biggest differences between these phones are their processors

Moving to the raw guts, the Z2 Force features Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 835. By comparison, the Z2 Play sticks with the midrange Snapdragon 626, while the Z Force gets by with the Snapdragon 820. In real-world use, you might not see a substantial difference between the three phones, thanks in part to Motorola taking a mostly hands-off approach with the software.

When it comes to more intensive applications, however, the Z2 Force would be the better option, given its more capable GPU. The Z Force should keep up just fine, since its processing package is still somewhat fresh, though the Z2 Play certainly shows its midrange nature in this context.

The camera situation also differs drastically across all three phones. Starting with the brand new hotness, the Z2 Force is Motorola’s first foray into the world of dual rear cameras, with both weighing in at 12 MP. One camera shoots in color, while the other shoots in monochrome, though both cameras will talk to each other to create higher-quality images than if you had just one sensor. By comparison, the original Z Force only features one 21 MP resolution, while the Z2 Play rocks a 12 MP sensor.

We do hope that Motorola made improvements in the camera department, however. The Z2 Play’s and Z Force’s cameras performed fine, but we’d be lying if we said they did not leave us wanting for more. Hopefully the Z2 Force makes the jump it needs to in order to keep up with the pack when it comes to the camera.

Motorola needs to prove itself in the camera department this year

Differences in RAM are extremely negligible, at best – the Z2 Force rocks either 4 (U.S.) or 6 GB (rest of the world) of RAM. By comparison, the Z2 Play and Z Force also feature 4 GB of RAM, but keep in mind that there is a slightly cheaper Z2 Play that features 3 GB of RAM.

Internal storage is a similar story, with all phones featuring 64 GB of on-board storage. There are versions of the Z2 Play and Z Force that feature 32 GB, while the Z2 Force’s Chinese variant will feature 128 GB. Either way, all three feature microSD card slots, so folks will not be left wanting for more storage.

Finally, the other significant points all tie around the dimensions. The Z2 Force, Z2 Play, and Z Force feature similar dimensions, though the thinner profiles of the former two allow them to weight less than the latter. This does have an adverse effect on battery life, however – the Z2 Force features a 2,730 mAh battery, significantly smaller than the original’s 3,500 mAh power pack. The Z2 Play features a 3,000 mAh battery, but even that is smaller than the original Z Play’s 3,300 mAh power pack.

This might have partly been due to Motorola’s want to sell more Moto Mods, which will work across the board just fine. This makes the jump from a Z Force to a Z2 Force a little easier to swallow, but Motorola put itself in a weird corner. It’s nice that Moto Mods made in 2016 will work with Z-branded smartphones released in 2017 and 2018, but this means that Motorola cannot drastically change how they look. As a result, they will look a bit more dated by then, given how other companies are starting to shift to near bezel-less front panels on their smartphones.

Is the Moto Z2 Force really that much different from the Moto Z2 Play or last year's Moto Z Force?

Overall, the Z2 Force is an impressive smartphone with powerful internals and what will hopefully be a great camera. However, the smaller battery and similar style to the Z2 Play and Z Force might make people think twice about picking it up, particularly if they own the latter.

What are your thoughts and feelings? Feel free to sound off in the comments below and let us know!

Next: Where to buy the Moto Z2 Force

Williams Pelegrin
Having written news articles on video games for several years, Williams shifted his focus to mobile technology. From 2014 through the first quarter of 2017, he wrote for Digital Trends before joining the Android Authority squad. Make him feel welcome on Twitter and you might see a bit of happiness head your way (or articles, whichever comes first).