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Highlights

Motorola Moto Z Review




Motorola’s latest flagship smartphone has finally reached the Philippine market. We’re always keen on Moto devices since its streak under Google and it’s interesting to be forwarded to one of the rising manufacturers in the mobile scene, Lenovo. Here we have the Moto Z, a bold and slim Android smartphone that could be considered as the modern reincarnation of the Razr. Read our review to know how the Moto flagship fares on our hands.

Design and Construction

The Moto Z is a beautiful handset. It’s thin, distinct, sexy, and just a very appealing device. Upon holding, the cold aluminum and stainless steel make contact with your hand. It has a gorgeous 5.5-inch Quad HD AMOLED display that combines sharpness with vibrancy. The screen is accompanied by an array of sensors, the earpiece slash loudspeaker, the 5MP wide-angle front camera with its own LED flash, and a square fingerprint scanner.

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To its right are three tiny buttons that may seem hard to identify at first. The lowest button with a ridged texture is the power/lock key while the two slim buttons above are the volume keys.

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The left-hand side is bare but looking at it will make you realize how thin this device is at just 5.2mm. The sides are also sharp when handling since the phone’s design is flat unlike the previous ergonomic Moto X series or even the Motorola-made Nexus 6.

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Up top is the pin-ejectable hybrid card tray that accepts nano-SIMs and a microSD card. Again, you get the option to have two mobile networks simultaneously or go for more storage. A single antenna band sits in the middle with a tiny hole for the secondary mic on its side.

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The bottom end has the sole port on the handset which the latest USB Type-C. The phone doesn’t have a 3.5mm port due to its thin frame that’s why Moto is kind enough to provide an adapter for your legacy earphones in the retail box.

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The back of the Moto Z is striking to look at. It combines metal and glass to give leeway to the radio signals. The metal plate in the middle sports a subtle stripe patterns. If you look closely, a tiny hole is situated at the bottom end for the main microphone.

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There are also pogo pins that connect to the Mods available for use. The approach of modularity on the Moto Z is very simple – just snap on the case and you’re good to go. You can also purchase Mod shells to protect the sexy back of the phone. One is already included with every purchase.

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The rear camera sticks out of the back panel. It’s got a metallic trim surrounding and it shines admirably under bright light. The sensor used is 13MP with a f/1.8 aperture lens, optical image stabilization, laser autofocus, and a dual-tone LED flash.

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Moto Z’s design implies itself to be placed on a table without unsightly case wrapping it. The best compliment design for it would be Motorola’s own magnetic back case. We do miss the curved back of previous Moto phones and the large screen-to-body ratio.

Display and Multimedia

The Moto Z uses an AMOLED panel with a Quad HD resolution. That’s having the best available panel with the highest resolution you can get (except for the 4K display on Z5 Premium). AMOLED panels are overly saturated by default but manufacturers now give you the option to tone it down to a more natural color. In a nutshell, it’s a very pleasing and truly sharp screen.

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As for the loudspeakers, it’s also the earpiece which is a strategic placement as it is already front-facing and the thinness of the phone would make it difficult to be placed it elsewhere. Quality-wise, it’s loud and has a decent amount of bass to it but nothing exceptional. It’ll be great for watching YouTube, streaming Spotify, and speakerphone calls.

OS, Apps, and UI

Running on the Moto Z is Vanilla Android. It’s a similar experience with the Nexus line of devices – a good old trait of Motorola phones. As of writing, it still has Marshmallow 6.0 but you can expect it to be updated to Nougat 7.0 in the coming weeks.

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As for memory, you get about 53GB of usable space out of the 64GB storage. While the 11GB occupancy of the OS is a bit high, you still get a lot left for your personal use. Should you wish to expand, you can use a microSD card via it’s hybrid SIM tray.

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There’s not much to talk about the OS since it’s a pretty stock Android packed with Google services. If we were to nitpick, we find the icons to be a bit large that we like making the phone look playful. Other than not, it’s a perfectly customizable UI. We’d like to see the Pixel Launcher to be supported here.

Camera

The Moto Z is equipped with a 13-megapixel main shooter that has a bright f/1.8 aperture and optical image stabilization (OIS). It’s got laser AF too to assist in keeping things in focus. As for selfies, there’s a 5-megapixel front-facing camera.

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The main shooter has a lot of impressive features. It knows how to take the best shot in auto mode depending on your subject and environment. Having a lot of light will, of course, result in bright and vibrant images. Color accuracy and white balance are good. Head indoors and the phone knows to use the OIS feature to capture more light with little to no blur. Steady hands are the key to a good low-light shot. Here are some samples:

When it comes to video, it can do 4K at a steady 30fps or go for 1080p at a higher 60fps. There’s also a slow-mo shooting mode that’s fun to use. Videos are of high quality with a good amount of details, especially in 4K. Here’s a sample:

The Moto Z may not have whopping megapixels in its sensors but it is a great all-around shooter. The laser AF does a better job in quick autofocus adjustments may it be still or video.

Performance and Benchmarks

Ticking inside the slim body of the Moto Z is a quad-core Snapdragon 820 chipset. It’s one of the top chipsets in the market and it’s expected of the Moto Z to sport a high-end silicon. It’s paired with an Adreno 530 GPU and a generous 4GB RAM which is a flagship setup for 2016.

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No questions asked everyday performance is a breeze with no hiccups and lag. The vanilla state of the Android OS also helps in keeping unnecessary UI processes away. Gaming is also one of the top features of the handset due to its flagship processor and mobile GPU. NBA 2K16 (2K17 too, most likely) plays smoothly even on high graphic settings. Other graphic intensive games have no problems as well. Keep in mind, though, that the handset heats up (from the lower back of the phone) after a few minutes of gameplay.

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Benchmark scores are also looking good. It may not pose itself to be on top, but it’s got great numbers to brag about.

  • AnTuTu Benchmark — 113338
  • PCMark — 5230 (Work 2.0), 7225 (Storage)
  • Quadrant Standard — 40095
  • Vellamo — 5276 (Chrome), 3573 (Metal), 3565 (Multicore)
  • 3DMark — 2619 (Sling Shot ES 3.0), 1914 (Sling Shot ES 3.1)

As for the fingerprint sensor, it works like a charm all the time. It can even capture swift presses when rushing to unlock the phone. The sensors onboard the phone includes a gyroscope, just in case you’re in doubt about it’s compatibility with VR headsets.

Call Quality and Connectivity

One thing you’d expect from a Motorola handset is quality telephony. Clear calls and good reception everywhere you go. With the Moto Z, you get both given that your telco has good coverage in your area. During our use, we find the Moto Z to have signal bars while our other handsets don’t.

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It’s a well-connected phone with 4G LTE radio, dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, and even NFC. Although, you’ll need to take off the Moto Mod when tapping with NFC. The phone has a hybrid slot, so you’ll have to choose between having more storage or have two networks at once.

Battery Life

Sealed inside the slim body of the Moto Z is a 2600mAh battery. We know it sits on the border of low and average capacities for a modern smartphone but at this thin, we can’t complain. It’s got quick charging features, so be sure to take advantage of that. Using the Turbo Charger included in the retail box, we were able to have 25% of juice with just 15mins of charging while a full 100% takes about an hour and a half.

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Our daily use would last us around an average of 10 hours with about 2 hours and a half screen-on time. With our video loop test, it was able to last for 12 hours and 30 minutes. That’s already a telling score for this capacity. You can spend the whole half day but just being glued to your phone watching. While the PCMark battery test (Work 1.0 or 2.0) wasn’t cooperating, but we’ll keep on trying to get results.

Conclusion

The Moto Z is a deserving flagship for the new Moto owners, Lenovo. It’s like having the Razr reborn in the adapting race of smartphones . The absence of the 3.5mm jack is justified by its slim profile, no issues there. The Moto Mods are also an inviting feature for those who could shell additional cash.

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It’s priced at Php33,999 which is right on par with high-end Androids from other manufacturers. What Moto Z offers that other current flagships don’t at the moment is the clean and pure Android experience. Since the Google Pixel is unlikely to land officially on local shores, the Motorola phones are the best bet for the Android purist in you.

Motorola Moto Z specs:
5.5-inch AMOLED display @ 1440 x 2560 pixels, 535ppi
Corning Gorilla Glass 4
2.15GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 quad-core CPU
Adreno 530 GPU
4GB LPDDR4 RAM
64GB internal storage
Expandable via microSD, up to 256GB
13MP f/1.8 laser autofocus rear camera w/ OIS, dual-tone LED flash
5MP front-facing camera
4G LTE Cat9
Wi-Fi 802.11ac
Bluetooth 4.2
NFC
GPS w/ A-GPS, GLONASS
Fingerprint Sensor
Gyroscope
USB Type-C
2,600mAh Li-Po battery
Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
153.3 x 75.3 x 5.2 mm
136 g

Pros

  • Slim flagship profile
  • Crisp and vibrant display
  • Great cameras
  • Useful added Moto features
  • Moto Mods accessories

Cons

  • Confusing fingerprint sensor as home button
  • Lower screen-to-body ratio from before
  • Expensive Moto Mods



This article was contributed by Daniel Morial, a film school graduate and technology enthusiast. He's the geeky encyclopedia and salesman among his friends for anything tech.

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5 Responses

  1. Carl says:

    What are those two dots beside the fingerprint scanner? sensors? Thanks

  2. Carl says:

    What are those four dots beside the fingerprint scanner ? thanks!

  3. Dan says:

    Bakit wala ako makita?

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