Moto Z2 Force Review: Heavy features on a thin phone | finder.com

Moto Z2 Force Review: Heavy features on a thin phone

The ultra-responsive Moto Z2 Force adds new features to what’s worked in the past

The Moto Z2 Force is Motorola’s 2017 flagship phone. It’s no surprise that it packs top-notch processing power that operates on Android 7.1.1. The phone is slimmed out compared to its predecessor, boasting dual 12-megapixel rear cameras and ShatterShield technology that protects your phone against a shattered or cracked screen.

Leading the pack when it comes to modular phones, Motorola’s Moto Mods features allow you to transform and enhance the camera, audio and all-around functionality of your Moto Z2 Force. And now the phone is available on all US mobile phone carrier networks in super black, fine gold and lunar grey.

It currently retails for $720 on Motorola.com.

Watch the unboxing

 

What’s inside the Moto Z2 Force

The Moto Z2 Force has a 7,000-series aluminum chassis that lends to its sturdy functionality. Let’s see what’s inside:

  • Display. Bright, vibrant, sharp, crisp (or any other word you’ve heard to describe a crystal-clear screen) — the 5.5-inch Quad HD (2560 x 1440 resolution) AMOLED display has a pixel density of 534 PPI. The high-performance display even handles VR via Google Daydream, giving its screen display no problem in competing with other phones on the market.
  • Processing power. Inside the phone is a high-performance Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor — no bigger than a dime — with Adreno 540 GPU and 4GB of RAM. This processing powerhouse allows for instantaneous audio and video streaming (making it easy to stream the second season of Stranger Things on the bus). You’ll get unmatched speed on Wi-Fi with gigabit-class speeds on a 4G network. And don’t sweat lags if you’re a gamer: It handles extensive, in-depth graphics flawlessly.
  • Storage. The Moto Z2 Force currently offers only one storage option in the US: 64GB. While a modest amount of space, a microSD slot can support an additional 2TB. Outside of the US, you’ll get 128GB storage and 6GB RAM. Lame.
  • Battery. You’ll make a slight sacrifice in battery power for this skinny phone. The 2,730 mAh battery is smaller by 22% since last year, but it can still last about a day with light use. On the plus side, TurboPower technology can charge your phone rather quickly — a plus if you’ve only 15 minutes to get some juice.

Moto Z2 Force: Shatterproof design. Ultimate power. Transforms with moto mods.

Guaranteed shatterproof display, the unlimited possibilities of Moto Mods, dual 12 MP rear cameras, and Qualcomm's most powerful Snapdragon™ processor.

Did you know?

The Moto Z2 Force’s battery-saver mode improves battery life by minimizing performance. If you won’t be able to access a charger anytime soon, it can help you get the most out of your battery — and maybe a few extra minutes of FaceTime.

Moto Z2 Force phone image

Moto Z2 Force specs

Moto Z2 Force
Display5.5-inch; 2,560×1,440 with ShatterShield
Processor2.35GHz octa-core CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
Pixel density534 PPI
GPUAdreno 540
RAM4GB
6GB (international)
Storage64GB
128GB (international)
MicroSD of up to 2TB
Mobile softwareAndroid 7.1.1 Nougat
CameraDual 12MP
Front camera5MP
Battery2,730 mAh
Nonremovable
15W TurboPower
Connectivity3.5 mm to USB-C headphone adapter
Bluetooth 4.2
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 2.4 GHz + 5 GHz with MIMO
Moto Mods connector
ColorsSuper Black, Fine Gold, Lunar Grey
Dimension and weight156x76x6 mm and 5 ounces

Moto Z2 Force pros and cons

Pros

  • ShatterShield screen. Drop it, scratch it or use it for a friendly game of catch. It really is shatterproof, but with a catch: If the screen collects a lot of wear and tear (which it will on its plastic protective covering), it’s no longer user replaceable. Which means you’ll have to pay Motorola $29.99 for a new replacement lens.
  • Fingerprint sensors. Ooh, aah. The little oval right below the Moto logo steers the whole ship. Variations of taps and swipes allow for quick navigation that can unlock, go to the home screen or put the phone to sleep while freeing up screen space, where navigation typically takes place.
  • Moto Voice. Rivaling Siri, Moto Voice lets you do just about anything on the phone with the simple command “Show me.” Have your phone display the weather, open an app, get directions home, check your messages and even spout useless facts to settle friendly debates.
  • Moto Actions. Pretty neat that you can snap your wrist back and forth twice to open the camera on the fly. You can also chop twice to turn on the flashlight or put the phone face down to activate Do Not Disturb. The Moto Z2 Force has a few other useful shortcuts via gestures for you to play with and see what works for you.

Cons

  • Audio. The iPhone has dual speakers — and for how much smartphones cost, they should be standard. However, the Moto Z2 Force has only a single front-facing speaker. But it does produces clear audio that can operate at max volumes without that crunchy distortion.
  • Headphones. There’s no standard 3.5mm headphone jack, which is rather annoying. (Who actually thought the USB Type-C adapter was a good idea?) At least Motorola includes a dongle that can connect headphones to the phone. Unless you have Bluetooth headphones, it’s inconvenient to have to worry about another wire.
  • No IP certification. If you don’t know what this is, IP certification measures the resistance of water and dust. This phone has a water-repellant nano coating that protects it from light splashes, but don’t even think about taking it for a swim.

Moto Z2 Force: Shatterproof design. Ultimate power. Transforms with moto mods.

Guaranteed shatterproof display, the unlimited possibilities of Moto Mods, dual 12 MP rear cameras, and Qualcomm's most powerful Snapdragon™ processor.

Camera

An important feature of any phone, it’s only fair it that cameras get their own section. I mean, do you not want future selfies and food pics to get likes on Instagram?

Photos

On the back on the phone are two 12MP cameras. The main lens is RGB standard, and the second lens shoots in monochrome to deliver true black-and-white photos. The two lenses combined allow for taking photos with that trendy depth effect, where your subject’s in focus against a blurry background.

The camera comes with phase detection and laser autofocus yet no optical image stabilization. Lacking this feature can lead to blurred photos and shaky videos, unless you have a steady hand. We should also note that without proper lighting, your photos may be washed in darkness.

The front-facing 5MP camera — the one you’ll take all of your selfies with — comes with flash and a wide lens that does the job just fine.

Take photos like a pro

What really impresses us about the Moto Z2 Force camera is manual focus options in pro mode. You can control white balance, shutter speed, ISO, focal length and exposure to get exactly what you want out of a photograph on your phone.

Videos

Video capabilities on this phone are superb if you have a steady hand (remember, no optical image stabilization). It can shoot up to 4K at 30 frames per second and can capture 1080P slow-motion video at 120 frames per second.

Moto Mods

Moto Mods are cool (and pricey) extras that snap on the back of the Moto Z2 Force to enhance performance. Because they’re more novelty than necessity, we’ll call them the Spirit Airlines of cellphone add-ons. Here’s what they offer.

The Moto 360 Camera is exactly what you think it is, snapping to the phone’s body and protruding from the top to capture 4K 360-degree video while recording 3D audio. It also lets you take 150-degree, super-wide-angle photos that are simulate a panorama effect. ($299.99)

If the party’s music isn’t loud enough and you have JBL SoundBoost, you’re an instant hero who can play music for up to 10 hours with a built-in battery. Party tip: Don’t throw it in the pool — it’s only splashproof. ($79.99)

Projecting videos from your phone onto any flat surface is pretty futuristic, but Motorola’s figured it out. Projecting up to 70 inches while on the built-in kickstand, the phone makes it easy to share photos and videos with your family and friends. ($299.99)

This Moto Mod will have people mistaking your phone for a true digital camera with 10x optical zoom, xenon flash (for better photos in low light) and the ability to shoot in RAW. It also comes with a carrying case! ($299.99)

It’s just like the controllers you play with on gaming systems — but on the go. Staying charged for up to eight hours, it immensely reshapes gaming on a smartphone through dual-control sticks, a directional pad and four action buttons. ($79.99)

  • Power packs

If you’re constantly too busy to sit down and charge your phone, get a power pack. It’s wireless charging at its finest that can give you up to 22 hours of extra battery life. The best part: Charging the pack itself to 50% power takes only 20 minutes. (Prices vary)

Bottom line

The new Moto Z2 Force is a noteworthy phone — with or without the Moto Mods. While the battery’s shrunk with the size of the phone, its life hasn’t changed at all. And now with the one of the fastest processors on the market, the Moto Z2 Force can compete with top contenders on the market.

Kyle Morgan

Kyle Morgan is a writer and editor for finder.com who has worked for the USA Today network and Relix magazine, among other publications. He can be found writing about everything from the latest car loan stats to tips on saving money when traveling overseas. He lives in Asbury Park, where he loves exploring new places and sipping on hoppy beer. Oh, and he doesn't discriminate against buffalo wings — grilled or fried are just fine.

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