Motorola Moto Z2 Force Review

Motorola Moto Z2 Force Review
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Motorola Moto Z2 Force















  • Solid metal unibody design
  • Fast performance
  • Moto’s tasteful software improvements to Android
  • Thin and lightweight
  • Very promising camera
  • Available for all major US carriers


  • No headphone jack
  • Small battery
  • Not actually water-resistant
  • Desperately needs a proper glass screen
  • Major battery-size downgrade from last year
Motorola Moto Z2 Force Review – Shattering limitations.

Every smartphone has limits. Unless it’s one that keeps getting better. Say hello to Moto Z2 Force Edition, the most advanced moto ever. Start with a super sleek, full metal design. Add a screen that’s guaranteed not to crack or shatter. Build in two cameras that work together for awesome, professional-looking photos. Then give it an insanely powerful processor, so you never miss a beat. Sounds good, right? It gets, well, better. Moto Z2 lets you go beyond your phone with Moto Mods. So you can add things like powerful stereo speakers, a 360 camera, a projector, and 100% more battery life—in a snap. Moto Z2. Different is better.

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Announced2017, July
Dimensions155.8 x 76 x 6.1 mm (6.13 x 2.99 x 0.24 in)
Weight143 g (5.04 oz)
SIMSingle SIM (Nano-SIM) or Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by)
- Splash resistant
DisplayP-OLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
5.5 inches (~70.4% screen-to-body ratio)
1440 x 2560 pixels (~534 ppi pixel density)
OSAndroid 7.1.1 (Nougat)
ChipsetQualcomm MSM8998 Snapdragon 835
CPUOcta-core (4x2.35 GHz Kryo & 4x1.9 GHz Kryo)
GPUAdreno 540
Card slotmicroSD, up to 256 GB (dedicated slot)
Internal Memory64 GB, 4 GB RAM
Primary CameraDual 12 MP, f/2.0, laser & phase detection autofocus, dual-LED (dual tone) flash
1/2.9" sensor size, 1.25 µm pixel size, geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, HDR, panorama
Video[email protected], [email protected]/60/120fps, [email protected]
Secondary Camera5 MP, f/2.2, dual-LED (dual tone) flash
3.5mm jackNo
- 3.5 mm to USB-C headphone adapter incl.
- Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic
WLANWi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, WiFi Direct, hotspot
Bluetooth4.2, A2DP, EDR, LE (5.0 after SW update)
GPSYes, with A-GPS
USBType-C 1.0 reversible connector, USB On-The-Go; magnetic connector
SensorsFingerprint (front-mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer
BatteryNon-removable Li-Ion 2730 mAh battery

The Moto Z2 Force is available now directly from Motorola and through all U.S. carriers, and for a limited time you can get last year’s Moto Insta-share projector mod included for free. Pricing will vary from carrier to carrier, but directly from Motorola the phone will run you $720 which is already down 80 bucks from the initially announced release price.

With the Z2 Force’s availability on all major U.S. carriers, it’s clear that Motorola/Lenovo is making a big attempt in competing with other big name flagships and it certainly has all the raw power and specs in order to do so. But, in 2017, it takes more than a great spec sheet to grab consumers’ attention. Motorola made a few steps forward in differentiating their product by adding dual cameras and more unique Moto Mods, but they arguably took many more steps back.

There’s still no headphone jack despite the more mid-range Z2 Play carrying one, the Z2 Force is not water resistant like most flagships, and Motorola sacrificed the phone’s once hefty battery in favor of a thinner design. All of these are questionable decisions that prevents the Z2 Force from being an even better phone. There’s no doubt that the Z2 Force is a good phone, but it had the potential to be a great phone and when you’re pricing your phone to compete with the best, “good” just isn’t enough.

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If I can put on my prediction hat for a moment, it would seem to me that very few people are going to pick the Z2 Force over the competition beside it at carrier stores and Best Buy. You can find the Galaxy S8+ on sale for less money, which is a comparison that Moto just won’t win. Or you could save over $200 and opt for the OnePlus 5, which offers essentially the same specs. Sure, those screens can break from the unexpected drops that we all see happen on the street daily. But if you really need a screen that won’t break, just buy a good case to counter your clumsiness.

Motorola is still making some very good phones like the G5 Plus and Z2 Play, but it’s hard to classify this Moto Z2 Force as one of them. Between the smaller battery, Motorola’s cost cutting (omitting a Style Shell), and the high price, it’s hard to recommend the Z2 Force compared to other phones on the market. The flagship Moto Z phone — the one that’s supposed to be the best thing Lenovo and Motorola put forward — needs a course correction. If you were to buy this and add on some Moto Mods, you could easily be approaching $1,000 in total cost. No thanks. If the Mods seem like something you’d be interested in, just stick to the Play side of the Moto Z line.

Full Review

Motorola made a big gamble with the Moto Z2 Force, giving us a phone that wasn’t clearly a direct follow-up to either the Moto Z or original Moto Z Force. But while that could have been a disaster, instead the company has managed to strike a solid balance between what we liked best about both those models, and in the process created one that really does manage to convince us that the Moto Z family only needs one flagship.
But at the same time, the Moto Z2 Force can be a hugely frustrating phone. The biggest problem there is the screen, and Motorola could really stand to benefit from dropping its ShatterShield project. The concept is sound, but instead of leaving us worry-free about a phone that won’t bust up its screen when we drop it, we’re instead left terrified of a phonethat’s liable to get a scratched-up screen just from looking at it funny. Your experience may differ, but we find it a lot easier to avoid dropping our phones than to keep anything remotely sharp from going anywhere near their screens, and by giving us a display like this, Motorola has replaced one minor concern with one that’s maybe even more difficult to live with.

Then there’s the missing headphone jack, and while we were willing to wait and see how this experiment played out with the Moto Z phones last year, the continued availability of the jack on the Moto Z Play series has just made it harder and harder to accept its absence on the Moto Z2 Force. Shouldn’t a more expensive phone offer more features, not fewer?

Flagships themselves have changed since last year, and this year’s hard-to-ignore arrival of 18:9 screens has left more traditionally-shaped phones like the Moto Z2 Force feeling a bit “fat” in comparison. We realize Moto Mods support doesn’t give Motorola anywhere to go here, but it puts this model at a disadvantage, all the same.

While we have some legitimate complaints about how the Moto Z2 Force came together, it’s also a very well-equipped, powerful phone with decent battery life, great recharge times, a pretty nice camera, and top-of-the-line performance. And with support for Moto Mods, it’s easy to get even more mileage out of the hardware.

The Moto Z2 Force can be a really fantastic smartphone, but it’s going to take a little work. Absolutely buy a screen protector. And you’re not going to be getting anything close to your money’s worth if you don’t pick up a couple Moto Mods. But for the user who’s willing to do a bit of legwork, and also has faith that Motorola can smooth over a few of the software’s rough patches through future updates, the Moto Z2 Force can easily be a powerful, versatile handset.

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The Moto Z2 Force proves that modular accessories aren’t just an ambitious concept, they’re a successful idea in the Z series’ sophomore year, and it still has room to grow. Motorola does this while keeping its smartphone line up-to-date with a faster chipset and improved camera. It has some neat tricks with selective black-and-white photos and a front-facing camera flash.

Attaching the Moto 360 Camera to the new phone has been fun and it’s easy to do since there’s no Bluetooth pairing required. We felt the same way about the Insta projector and JBL speaker last year. You’re just going to have to consider forking over even more money for a MotoMod battery now that this slimmed-down Force phone has a weaker battery. It moves Motorola further away from its affordable Moto X days.

The future is as expensive as it is exciting sometimes.

Full Review

Motorola made some questionable trade-offs here, but the Moto Z2 Force is still a solid, impressive smartphone. I’ll give it props for being the most powerful modular phone out there (unless you count RED’s forthcoming monstrosity) and so far, the shatter-proof screen is a pro at dealing with abuse. Still, the Force’s middling battery life and a lackluster camera are tough shortcomings to deal with when you consider the strength of this year’s competition. If you’re still in love with the idea of a phone that gets better with time, or if your clumsiness knows no equal, the Z2 Force is definitely worth a look. Android purists will appreciate Moto’s work here, too. Otherwise, consider the rest of this year’s incredible smartphones before deciding if you can live with Motorola’s compromises.

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Add up the processor boost, battery life, compact size and decent camera quality, and the Moto Z2 Force is a great phone. But it’s also expensive. At around $730, it’s in premium territory. Samsung’s next big phone, the Note 8, is around the corner. So is the next iPhone. And the next LG phone. And the next Google phone. When the dust settles, the Z2 Force could still be a great choice. But that’s a big if. The less-expensive Z2 Play is probably the better bet, but the Z2 Force is the better phone.

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Earlier this year, when I reviewed the Moto Z2 Play, I said it was a great phone but not a great sequel. With the Moto Z2 Force, I don’t even know if I can say the former. There are certainly hints of greatness, but they’re buried underneath a burden of strange decisions. Why did Motorola decide to get rid of its mainline Moto Z in favor of an expensive, unbreakable but scratch-prone screen? Why wasn’t the company able to fit in a slightly larger battery, even just to match the Moto Z2 Play? Why did it opt for a dual camera setup without ensuring that the basic threshold for quality was met?

I can’t really answer these questions, but I will say this: despite all the problems, I really like this phone. I love how responsive it is, and the speed of the fingerprint sensor. I enjoy Motorola’s take on Android, and that there are small things, like a front-facing flash, that aren’t common other devices. When the camera captures a great photo, it’s phenomenal — especially from the B&W sensor. Also uncommon is how easy it is to augment the Moto Z2 Force with additional features, like the very cool Moto 360 Cameraor the upcoming GamePad.

None of these things overcome the fact that the Moto Z2 Force doesn’t feel competitive against products like the Galaxy S8 or HTC U11. At a minimum of $720 it’s a hard sell, even with a free $299 Insta-Share Projector mod. And while the phone is, for the first time in recent memory, available all four major U.S. carriers, I wish Motorola had a better representative to showcase its resurgence in mainstream culture.

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