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Lenovo and Motorola unveiled the Moto Z family late this summer. We already gave you our full thoughts on the high-end Moto Z Force Droid Edition. But now it is time to turn to it’s younger sibling, the Moto Z Droid. Not only is this device much more affordable than the Z Force Droid Edition, but it loses some weight and still delivers some great specifications.

Design

Lenovo and Motorola went with a unique design that might leave you asking a few questions. For starters, the Moto Z’s front and back are glass, while the sides are metal.

The metal part is a mix between lighter and darker shades of grey, while the glass is black. The weirdest part of the design is that Motorola put the volume rocker and power buttons way to close to each other. Leaving the entire left-hand side and bottom right-hand side empty. It makes getting used to the button placement quite difficult, and if you have small hands, it will be a reach to use them.

While you might think it is, the fingerprint sensor below the display does not act as a home button and doesn’t scan all that quickly. The fingerprint sensor does feature haptic feedback, similar to the Nexus 6P.

Above the display is the earpiece that doubles as a front facing speaker. Similar to previous Samsung and Apple devices there is a larger camera hump on the back. This is more pronounced, but when you put a style shield or mod on the back, the surface becomes level. The Moto Style Shields will not provide much protection but allow for personalization.

It should be noted that the Moto Z is crazy thin and it almost hits the point of being to thin. It seems like they sacrificed what could have been all day battery life, for this super thin design. Ahem, they also cut out the headphone jack which could have been kept and would eliminate the need for a dongle.

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Hardware

When releasing a flagship device in the summer, hardware manufacturers realize that they need to hit certain goals to make sure their devices can compete with what else is coming.

The Moto Z does not have shatter shield technology like the Z Force Droid, but it will still make do. Instead, you get a standard 5.5-inch Quad HD AMOLED display with a resolution of 2560 X 1440 and 535 pixels per inch. While you don’t have Shatter-Shield onboard, there is still a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass.

Powering both the Moto Z is the 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 820 processor with 4GB of RAM. This processor is paired with an Adreno 530 GPU, and it performs incredibly well. In our real life testing, the Moto Z was very fast and certainly did not disappoint. There are several built-in gestures that make use of the gyroscope that let you quickly start tasks, like opening the camera.

The camera on the Moto Z is only 13-megapixels in comparison to the 21-megapixel lens on the Moto Z Force Droid. Both of these cameras are not all that good. You get a yellowish tone across all images, and the sensor takes into much light. I am hoping that Motorola issues some software update to fix this issue.

The Moto Z also has a smaller battery at just 2,600mAh. Which is much smaller then the 3,500mAh battery in the Moto Z Force Droid, but on par with other smartphones. It provides almost all day battery life at around 10-hours, but expect it to go away faster with heavy streaming and lots of gaming.

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Software

The Moto Z Force Droid resembles previous Motorola devices in that experience is similar to clean Android. It is running Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow with a few minor customizations. There is also the Moto application on board and Verizon has pre-loaded several applications. Unfourtnetly, Verizon does not let many of these pre-loaded applications to be removed. They can be hidden, but that means they will still take up storage on your device.

Hopefully, the Moto Z will be on Motorola’s and Verizon’s list of devices to get upgraded to Android 7.0 Nougat. As this brings many features, like Google Assitant and Dose which can help to preserve battery life.

Moto Mods

Motorola and Lenovo’s take on a modular smartphone are not Project Ara, but it is much better than the LG G5. The big issue I have with Moto Mods is the current lineup of them and the price. The projector mod gets the most attention and is a great party trick, but is not much more especially with the $300 price point.

However, the battery pack mods and speaker mods are more affordable at under $100. The use cases for these are realistic and come in handy. There are also several Style Shields to choose from, and these are similar to Moto Maker for the original Moto X. Out of the box, you get a dark bamboo Style, Shield.

The way the Moto Mods attach are nice, but if you do not have a mod or shield on the back, the pins and connectors can be a bit of an eyesore. Moto Mods are an exciting feature of the Moto Z family.

Conclusion

The Moto Z undercuts the Moto Z Force Droid Edition and still delivers a pretty stellar experience. While you don’t get a crazy big battery or a Shatter-Shield display, it does perform well. It has the same support for Moto Mods, the same size display, a unique but workable design, and the same processor. This means Android still runs zippy and the experience is still great. Even better the Moto Z is $649 off contract or $26 a month on a device payment plan.

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Jacob Krol is the founder, CEO, and editor in chief of NJTechReviews. He created the site in 2010 and most recently gave it a big redesign in 2014. Jacob is a sophomore at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA. He has a big love for all things tech, he's a huge Springsteen fan, and he is also a native New Jerseyan.

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