Despite boasting the industry’s first 5G capabilities (via a modular accessory), the Motorola Moto Z3 isn’t really a flagship contender, given it’s $480 price tag. Instead, it’s more of an upper mid-range handset, sharing a similar price bracket to the OnePlus 6, Samsung Galaxy A8, and now-discounted premium handsets from 2017.

The phone is also a Verizon exclusive, meaning it’s only coming to the U.S. market, which doesn’t have a lot of competition around the $500 mark. The most notable recent releases include the likes of the Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra and Honor View 10. Rather than comparing this release to the very best on the market right now, here’s how the Motorola Moto Z3 stacks up against its U.S. rivals around the $500 price point.

The main hardware package

One of the most notable entries on the Motorola Moto Z3 spec sheet is its inclusion of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, last year’s flagship SoC package. It’s an admirable performer that still outclasses many other chipsets at a similar price point, including the Snapdragon 630 and 625 found in the Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra and BlackBerry Motion respectively.

The very best performance comes from the OnePlus 6, which boasts 2018 flagship tier processing hardware. The Snapdragon 835 is about as fast as the Honor View 10’s Kirin 970 processor, which is the same chip inside the high-end Huawei P20 Pro. The Moto Z3 is also a little behind the curve on RAM, featuring a very common 4GB, rather than the 6GB option offered by the very best performers in this price segment. However, you likely won’t be able to tell the difference in the vast majority of use cases.

 Motorola Moto Z3OnePlus 6Honor View 10Sony Xperia XA2 UltraBlackBerry Motion
Display6.01-inch Super AMOLED
2160 x 1080 resolution
18:9 aspect ratio
Corning Gorilla Glass 3
79 percent screen-to-body ratio
6.28-inch AMOLED
2280 x 1080 resolution
19:9 aspect ratio
Corning Gorilla Glass 5
83 percent screen-to-body ratio
5.99-inch IPS
2160 x 1080 resolution
18:9 aspect ratio
78 percent screen-to-body ratio
6.0-inch LCD
1920 x 1080 resolution
16:9 aspect ratio
Corning Gorilla Glass 4
76 percent screen-to-body ratio
5.5-inch Full HD IPS LCD
1920 x 1080 resolution
DragonTrail glass
16:9 aspect ratio
SoCQualcomm Snapdragon 835
2.35GHz, octa-core
Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
Octa-core up to 2.8GHz
HiSilicon Kirin 970
Octa-core up to 2.4GHz
Qualcomm Snapdragon 630
Octa-core up to 2.2GHz
Qualcomm Snapdragon 625
Octa-core up to 2.0GHz
GPU Adreno 540 Adreno 630Mali-G72 MP12Adreno 508Adreno 506
MicroSD up to 2TB
No MicroSD
MicroSD up to 256GB
microSD up to 256GB
microSD slot - up to 2TB
Battery3,000mAh battery
3,750 mAh
4,000 mAh

Storage wise, the Moto Z3’s 64GB memory is again very standard. Competitors offer larger storage options, should you want to spend a little extra money. Although the inclusion of a microSD slot makes this virtually less important.

Battery capacity is a bit more of a problem. The Z3 features a 3,000mAh battery — considerably lower than its competitors, which all push past the 3,500mAh mark, barring the OnePlus 6. We’re looking at a good 10 to 30 percent more capacity with other models, so you might want to invest in one of those battery pack Moto Mods.

The display is where the Moto Z3 pulls ahead of its competitors a tad. The higher 2,160 x 1,080 Full HD+ resolution is a match for the more expensive OnePlus 6 and beats out the 1080p panels more typical at this price. The AMOLED panel is also nice if you prefer punchy colors and deep blacks, and can live with black latency smearing.

motorola moto z3 camera

Cameras and extras

Dual cameras are pretty mainstream these days and the Motorola Moto Z3 is no exception. The handset retains the same dual-camera setup as the Moto Z3 Play, offering a 12MP camera and 5MP depth sensor. Unfortunately, we didn’t really think much of the camera on that model, owing to a lack of both color and detail. Unlike a lot of dual camera setups, the secondary sensor doesn’t help improve image quality at all.

We haven’t done a direct shootout, but we had no such complaints about the Honor View 10’s camera. The dual 16MP and secondary 20MP monochrome sensor produce very detailed colorful snaps. The OnePlus 6 and Xperia XA2 Ultra also hand in decent photography performances and are probably also better options if you’re an avid snapper.

 Motorola Moto Z3OnePlus 6Honor View 10Sony Xperia XA2 UltraBlackBerry Motion
CamerasRear cameras
12MP main sensor with f/2.0 aperture, 1.25μm pixels
Phase-detect and laser autofocus, dual-LED flash

Front camera
8MP sensor with f/2.0 aperture, 1.12μm pixels
Rear cameras
Main: 16MP Sony IMX 519 sensor with 1.22μm pixels, OIS, EIS, ƒ/1.7 aperture
Secondary: 20MP Sony IMX 376K sensor with 1.0μm pixels, ƒ/1.7 aperture
Dual LED flash

Front camera: 16MP Sony IMX 371 sensor with 1.0μm pixels, EIS, ƒ/2.0 aperture
Rear cameras
Main sensor: 16 MP RGB, f/1.8 aperture
Secondary sensor: 20 MP monochrome, f/1.8 aperture

Front camera: 13 MP, f/2.0 aperture
Rear cameras
23 MP Exmor RS with f/2.3 aperture, hybrid AP, and 5x zoom

Front cameras
16 MP sensor with OIS and 8 MP with 120 wide-angle lens
Rear camera:
12 MP sensor, 1.55 μm pixel size, and f/2.0 aperture, phase detection autofocus

Front camera:
8 MP sensor, 1.12 μm pixel size, and f/2.2 aperture
AudioFront-facing speaker
USB Type-C
No 3.5mm jack
USB-C to 3.5mm adapter included
Bottom-firing speaker
3.5mm audio jack
Dirac HD Sound
Dirac Power Sound
aptX HD Bluetooth
Bottom-firing speaker
3.5mm audio jack
aptX HD Bluetooth
Bottom-firing speaker
3.5mm audio jack
aptX HD Bluetooth
Bottom-firing speaker
3.5mm audio jack
Charging15W TurboCharger
USB Type-C
Dash Charge (5V 4A)
USB Type-C
SuperCharge (5V, 4A)
USB Type-C
Quick Charge 3.0
Qnovo Adaptive Charging
USB Type-C
Quick Charging 3.0
USB Type-C
IP RatingSplash-resistant p2i
No IP rating
NoNoNoIP67 water and dust resistance
Software Android 8.1 OreoAndroid 8.1 OreoAndroid 8.0 OreoAndroid 8.0 OreoAndroid 7.1.1 Nougat

There’s no 3.5mm jack here, which is rather uncommon in this price range. You’ll have to rely on USB Type-C headphones or a dongle, and there’s no aptX codec for better quality Bluetooth headphones either. Audiophiles will certainly want any of the competitors on our list, most of which offer aptX HD for Bluetooth and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

IP ratings for water and dust resistance are rare in this bracket and the Moto Z3 is no exception, barring a small amount of “splash resistance.” If you want to take your phone for a dunk, the BlackBerry Motion or a Samsung Galaxy A8 are better options. In the fast charging department, Motorola’s 15W TurboCharge is about as nippy as Quick Charge 3.0, but OnePlus’ DashCharge and Huawei’s SuperCharge ill fill your phone up a bit faster.

Of course, the one extra unique feature Motorola’s handsets boast is Moto Mods. These bring extra battery capacity, better quality speakers, and the new 5G-ready antenna, though they will increase the total cost of the handset quite a bit.

moto z3 charging plug hub


The Motorola Moto Z3 is better than many of its rivals, but a bit too dated to keep up with the very best. The older processor was a very good choice to outpace many other phones, and the Full HD+ AMOLED display is ultra sharp. If you prioritize these features, the Moto Z3 might be right for you. Instead, it’s the handset’s dated design, battery capacity, and underwhelming audio and camera technologies that can’t keep pace. At this price point, there are now some exceptional handsets to live up to.

Compared with other smartphones around the $500 mark, the Moto Z3 is a tough sell. The $499 Honor View 10 matches or exceeds the Z3 in pretty much every respect. For an extra $30, the excellent OnePlus 6 is also within easy reach. Why settle for last year’s hardware when you can have this year’s?

If older processors don’t bother you then you can also snag the Essential Phone, LG G6, and probably even a discount Galaxy S8 from some retailers for around $500. Ultimately, this is probably why the company made such a fuss about its 5G accessory — the handset itself is a bit more humdrum.

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