Screenshot


Motorola's Moto Z2 Force has an unbreakable screen, but it isn't flawless

Motorola brought us one of the first cool-kid phones with its Razr. But that was way back in the halcyon days of the early 2000s when bleaching your spiked tips and oversize bell bottoms were all the rage. Today, Motorola and its parent company, Lenovo, are fighting to remain relevant in the high-end smartphone market.

The manufacturer’s latest effort, the Moto Z2 Force, takes many of its features found in the original Z Force, such as its Moto Mods add-ons and unbreakable screen, and further builds on them. But a slimmed-down body and smaller battery, coupled with the added cost of those Moto Mods, makes the $720 Z2 Force a tough sell.

The Moto Z2 Force hews closely to the design of last year’s Moto Z Force, and by extension, the much older Moto X. That’s a letdown for a flagship device, especially when companies like Samsung, LG and HTC have made significant changes to the looks their marquee phones.

That’s not to say Motorola hasn’t tweaked the Z2 Force’s styling. The biggest, and most obvious, change to the phone’s body is how much thinner it is than its predecessor. Motorola trimmed 0.04 inches from the Z2 Force’s thickness, which might not sound like much, but makes quite a difference when holding the handsets side by side.

And when it comes to smartphones, thinner is usually better. Until, that is, you realize that cutting down on the phone’s size also meant that Motorola had to trim the Z2 Force’s battery size, as well.

The battery was cut from 3,500 mAh to 2,730 mAh. And while the Z2 Force still lasted most of the day, I can’t help but think how long the phone would have lasted if it had that larger battery. I get that Motorola wanted to make its phone slim and sleek, but I’d take a bit more bulk and a larger battery over a thinner handset any day.

Perhaps the Moto Z2 Force’s biggest selling point is the fact that its screen is practically unbreakable. Seriously, Motorola says it guarantees its ShatterShield display won’t crack or, well, shatter, for four years. If it does, the company will replace it. I threw my review unit around the office a number of times to see if it stood up to Motorola’s claims and it survived without issue.

Still, the ShatterShield screen isn’t perfect. It’s surprisingly prone to scratches, even in your pocket. And unfortunately, those aren’t covered under the company’s warrantee.

As far as the display’s image quality goes, though, the Moto Z2 Force’s 5.5-inch, 2560 x 1440 resolution Super AMOLED panel is beautiful, with gorgeous colors and deep blacks.

The dream of a modular smartphone, one that you can add and remove parts from, is all but dead. Just look at Google’s Project Ara. But Motorola isn’t giving up. Instead, the company is doubling down on the concept by offering even more of its Moto Mods for the Moto Z2 Force than it did for the original Moto Z Force.

In addition to improved versions of Motorola’s existing JBL SoundBoost speaker mod and battery pack, the company has released its new Moto Gamepad mod, which eliminates the need for you to use a Bluetooth controller when playing games by turning your phone into one big controller, and the Moto 360 camera.

The 360 camera is clearly the standout of the group and lets you capture 360 images and video with ease. But unlike other solutions, like Samsung’s Gear 360 camera, which is independent of your phone, the Moto 360 connects directly to your device, and doesn’t require any secondary apps, as it uses the handset’s existing camera software.

Still, the camera mod will cost you a whopping $299. And how often do you really think you’re going to want to carry around a smartphone with a bulging orb stuck to its top?

Out of the 12 available Moto Mods, the battery pack and the new JBL SoundBoost 2 are the most useful. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the mods do add a significant amount of bulk to the Z2 Force’s slender frame.

Motorola’s biggest addition to the Z2 Force is its new dual-lens camera. Similar to Apple’s (AAPL) dual-lens iPhone 7 Plus, the Z2 Force’s camera allows you to add bokeh effects (that look where your subject is in focus and the background is blurry) to your images.

But unlike the iPhone 7 Plus, which uses one of its lenses to add an optical zoom to your photos, the Z2 Force uses one lens to capture color images, while the other captures black-and-white shots.

The idea is to help improve low-light performance. But next to the iPhone 7 Plus’ low-light shots, the Z2 Force’s contained more artifacting and made my skin look sun burned. Photos taken in bright sunlight, meanwhile, looked beautiful.

The Moto Z2 Force’s bokeh effect was also inconsistent at best. A shot of my Lego Boost robot’s head looked excellent, with the majority of its head in focus and the background blurred, but a picture of a flower against a backdrop of billboards in Times Square was a mess. Parts of the stem were blurred, while others were in focus.

As you’d expect of a flagship device, the Z2 Force comes packed with top-of-the-line specs including an 8-core Snapdragon 835 processor, 4GB of RAM (the rest of the world gets 6GB, which is a bummer), and 64GB of storage, which can be expanded via a microSD card.

The Moto Z2 Force runs on Google’s Android 7.1 operating system, and as with most of the company’s recent smartphones, Motorola keeps Android relatively free of any unnecessary interface changes.

But my Verizon version of the Moto Z2 Force did come with a number of unwanted Verizon apps including Verizon Cloud, Verizon Message+ and VZ Navigator. Why are those apps annoying? Because they’re duplicates of apps you’ve already got on your phone and simply taking up space.

The Moto Z2 Force is a decent device, especially if you’re looking for a handset that runs a largely unmodified version of Google’s (GOOG, GOOGL) Android and believe in the idea of adding mods to your phone. But with the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus already on the market, the case for buying the Z2 Force is a bit thin.

I’m a fan of the handset’s “unbreakable display” and its JBL speaker add-on, but the fact that its design is showing its age, coupled with its easily scratched screen, makes the handset a hard sell. Still, if you’re looking for a new smartphone and want to avoid the iPhone or one of Samsung’s offerings, then the Z2 Force might be right for you.

More from Dan:

Email Daniel at dhowley@yahoo-inc.com; follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.

Views: 11
Author: Regular Articles
Tell a friend
Average rating:
(0 votes)
Average rating from Reviews:
(0 votes)

Today's Research Reports on Stocks to Watch: Kinross Gold Corporation and Freeport-McMoran

NEW YORK, NY / ACCESSWIRE / August 17, 2017 / Shares of Freeport-McMoRan plowed ahead in Wednesday trading despite a flash flood at its Indonesia business unit not only causing extensive damage to... Read More

Buy Freeport-McMoRan Inc (FCX) Stock on the Copper Pop

Freeport-McMoRan Inc (NYSE:FCX) jumped higher by nearly 6% on Wednesday, and credit for that lies in large part to rising copper prices. While the broad market recovery was taking a breather,... Read More

Flash floods hit Freeport Indonesia's mining operations

Flash floods have left one worker missing and caused extensive damage to a power plant at U.S.-owned miner Freeport Indonesia's operations in the eastern-most province of Papua, company... Read More

The Consumer's Guide to Essure Birth Control

Ruth Wilson says it was a group of women she found on Facebook that helped her trace the bizarre symptoms she was experiencing—severe migraines, inexplicable weight gain, the constant taste of me... Read More

How to Keep Your Car Organized — For Good

Moms' motto: Always be prepared, right? Jen Jones' genius tactic for handling the daily carpool makes that a cinch. Read More

Set Your Kids Up for Back-to-School Health

Getting children ready to head back to class often brings a flurry of activity: ticking items off the classroom supply list, checking the school calendar for key dates, and picking up new clothes... Read More

Salma Hayek: Big roles still elusive as hot year continues with 'The Hitman's Bodyguard'

Two years ago, Salma Hayek bemoaned her status with major Hollywood studios, telling the Associated Press, “I think they don’t want me, but I don’t really care.” Since getting that gripe off her... Read More

'It' eyes huge $50 million-plus opening in early box-office tracking

Stephen King adaptation could reach numbers typically reserved for summer blockbusters when it debuts Sept. 8. Read More

International 'Thor: Ragnarok' Trailer Features Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange

If you stayed for the credits of last year's “Doctor Strange,” you may remember Thor requesting the help of the magician. Well, wouldn’t you know it — that wasn‘t the superheroes’ last encounter. Read More

Trump: Keep our 'beautiful' Confederate monuments

“The beauty that is being taken out of our cities, towns and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!” the president tweeted. Read More

Here are the ‘beautiful’ Confederate monuments Trump wants to stay put

A Confederate monument is toppled in Durham, N.C., others are vandalized as municipal leaders in cities across the U.S. said they would step up efforts to pull such monuments from public spaces. Read More

Trump reacts to Barcelona terror by touting (debunked) anti-Muslim war crime tale

President Trump responded to the news of a terrorist attack in Spain by peddling a debunked legend about a general’s harsh tactics more than a century ago. Read More

What post-ISIS Iraq can do for peace

The collapse of Islamic State (ISIS) strongholds in Iraq is proving to be more than a military victory over terrorists. The two-year battle against the militant sectarian group has also awakened... Read More

Meet the Raging Grannies, Portland's not-so-secret warriors for civility

One of the most beloved social activist groups in this Pacific Northwest city, they are the Raging Grannies. “Grannying is the least understood and most powerful weapon we have,” says Granny Rose... Read More

After brinkmanship, a diplomatic opening with North Korea

For more than two decades, North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them long distances has prompted recurring international crises. Sudden bursts of heightened... Read More