Lenovo relaunched the Moto Z and Moto Z Force in the United States, after their global debut on June 9. Thanks to its cozy relationship with Motorola, Verizon is getting a short period of exclusivity on the two phones, which will be called Moto Z Droid Edition and Moto Z Force Droid Edition on its network. Strangely, Verizon did not say how much the new Droids will cost or when they will be released, but at least we know what to expect.
The Z Droid and Z Force Droid come with Mods, cool add-ons that snap on the back of the phones, giving them superpowers of sorts. We got to see these superheroes in action today and we will be bringing you our reviews soon. But until then, here are our impressions after unboxing and setting up the Moto Z Droid and Z Droid Force.
Straight out of the box, we can see that the Z Force Droid and Z Droid lack the prominent Verizon logos we’ve come to expect (and dread). Instead, what we get in terms of branding is the “moto” mark up front and the “droid” mark on the camera on the back, coupled with the well-known M batwing logo.
The difference you will notice right away between the Z Droid and Z Force Droid is in their thickness: the Z Droid is incredibly thin at 5.2-millimeter, while the Z Force Droid is just very thin, at 7-millimeter. Despite this, Mods work the same with both phones.
Speaking of Mods, there’s one in the box – a faux wood snap-on cover that attaches magnetically to the back of the phones, which is made of steel. The cover is a nice throwback to the X series, whose customization options included natural wood.
The Z Droid and Z Force Droid feature USB Type-C connectors (and no audio jacks). Instead of the typical charger type with a detachable USB cable, the charger in the box features a fused cable. This is necessary to ensure faster charging speeds.
Lenovo sacrificed the headphone jack in the name of a more compact design, which leaves you with a few options: go wireless with a Bluetooth headphone set; buy one of those new-fangled USB Type-C headphones; or use an adapter. To minimize the inconvenience, the Z Droid and Z Force Droid ship with a short Type-C-to-3.5-mm adapter.
That’s what you get in the box, let’s move on to the initial setup. As part of the process, you will be asked to set up the fingerprint sensor on the front. Like on the Moto G4 and G4 Plus, this squarish sensor doesn’t work as a home button (the Z Droid and Z Force Droid feature on-screen keys), which may throw you for a loop until you get used to it. Tapping on the sensor, which is fast and responsive, will turn the screen on and off.
The software is very similar to what we’ve seen on the Moto X and Moto G lines over the past years. Of course, there’s a ton of Verizon bloatware, but even after I added all my apps to the phones, they were still fast and fluid.
Also present are staples like Moto Actions and Gestures, as well as Moto Voice for controlling your phone from a distance.
A quick look at the specs of these two beasts: 5.5-inch AMOLED Quad HD; Snapdragon 820; 4GB; 21MP camera on the rear/6MP on the front (Z Force Droid) – 13MP camera on the rear/5MP on the front (Z Droid); 3,500-mAh battery (Z Force Droid) – 2,600-mAh (Z Droid).
As for how these two phones feel in hand, the Z Force is obviously thicker, but that’s a small sacrifice to make for the bigger battery and the shatterproof display, which will protect the screen against drops and other accidents.
We received three Moto Mods to play with: a speaker, a pico-projector, and an external battery. All of them connect to the Z Droid or Z Force Droid through the pogo connector on the back. The JBL-branded speaker could easily replace a small separate Bluetooth speaker and the built-in kickstand lets you point the device towards you for the best experience.
Then there’s the pico-projector, which lets you project pretty crisp video onto a wall or another flat surface, with auto-keystone functionality.
Finally, the Incipio-branded power pack gives you an extra 2,200-mAh of battery capacity, without making the phone too thick.
We’ll be taking a close look at all the Moto Mods in our upcoming review of the Moto Z Droid and Moto Z Force Droid. Our review will also take you through all the nitty-gritty details of these cool new phones, including a close look at their cameras.
For now, we can say that our initial impression is positive, and regardless of how you may feel about the Z Droid and Z Force Droid (and the departure from the beloved Moto X line), they are pretty fun to use.