We might not see a successor to the 2015 Moto 360 in the near future, or even at all. Motorola and its parent company Lenovo have confirmed to The Verge that they’re not working on a new smartwatch to be released in time for Android Wear 2’s launch next year. Moto’s head of global product development Shakil Barkat told the publication that the company doesn’t “see enough pull in the market” to justify developing a new smartwatch at this point in time. He even went on to say that “wearables do not have broad enough appeal for [Moto] to continue to build on it year after year.”
Based on Barkat’s statements, smartwatches and other wearable devices aren’t doing too well and haven’t been able to attract enough audience to make a regular refresh viable. It’s unclear if we’ll ever see another Moto 360, since it sounds like it’s not doing anything for the company. According to Barkat, though, Moto believes that the “wrist still has value,” hinting that the company hasn’t closed its doors on the possibility of releasing another wearable device.
Source: The Verge
Motorola’s magnetic Mods are the reason to own a Moto Z, and the company just pulled back the curtain on two more of them. If the existing bolt-on batteries weren’t big enough for you, a new 3,000mAh Mophie JuicePack (with a USB Type-C port for independent charging) is now available for $80. And since the holidays are nearly upon us — meaning lots of roadtrips to see family — Motorola also teamed up with Incipio on a $65 car dock that charges your Z and can be used to automatically launch apps like Android Auto. Keep your eyes peeled for that next week.
Alright, fine: These new Mods don’t seem all that inspiring. We’ve seen similar battery add-ons in the past, and the car dock concept is one that has been thoroughly explored in the past. (Motorola, for what it’s worth, doesn’t seem concerned about supporting multiple Mods that do the same thing.) Practicality is great and all, but the beauty of Motorola’s modularity is how it can offer experiences wildly different from rival smartphones. One of Motorola’s biggest jobs going forward will to be nurture the kind of thoughtful weirdness that will make for Mods people didn’t know they wanted. Thankfully, that work is already under way.
Motorola partnered with IndieGoGo last month to solicit ideas from a community of ardent product nerds — so far the company has received close to 380 pitches, for everything from Moto Mod game controllers to YotaPhone-style e-ink displays to a “mood” case that change colors. Participants with the best ideas will move on to subsequent rounds of judging, ending in a sort of Shark Tank-style event that should be rife with startup drama. The company’s first public hackathon is also set to take place in New York this month, and if it’s anything like previous internal events, we’re in for some weird, useful new Mods. Case in point: A recent hackathon attended by Motorola employees has yielded a breathalyzer and a Mod with potential to alert parents on the status of their babies. While practicality is the name of the game with today’s new Mod announcements, stay tuned for weirder, wilder augmentations to come.
Lenovo’s Phab 2 Pro might be the first smartphone out there with Google’s Tango technology, but other parts of the company are interested too. While addressing press at an event in Chicago, Motorola Mobility president Aymar de Lencquesaing said that the Lenovo subsidiary is “likely to have a Tango module” for the Moto Z line of smartphones… though he stopped short of confirming such an add-on was currently in the works.
“Augmented reality on a phone is a technology that’s likely to stick,” de Lencquesaing added later. “Of course we’ll follow, or lead, the market in this area.”
In case you’re new to Tango, Google’s work combines multiple cameras — mostly for measuring depth and motion — with additional sensors to give a phone a very fine understanding of where it is and what’s in front of it. The issue so far is that Tango, or the way it’s implemented in Lenovo’s enormous phablet, is far from perfect. Depth-sensing is sketchy at best, the interfaces for Tango apps can be cumbersome and in general, there’s still plenty of work to be done. The upside, however, is the staggering potential that becomes evident when Tango experiences work the way they’re supposed to. Tango, for lack of a better word, can feel like magic.
While it’s unclear if we’ll ever actually see a Tango mod magnetically lashed to a Moto Z, it’s no surprise it’s under consideration. After all, the idea of squeezing the requisite technology into a smartphone add-on is a damned good one. Consider this: the Phab 2 Pro wound up being enormous in part because of all the Tango technology Lenovo had to fit into a relatively sleek body, and that size made the phone cumbersome to use as a daily driver.
By off-loading those extra cameras and adding an external battery, Motorola could maintain its flagship devices’ trim physiques and provide the (undeniably neat) augmented reality experiences Tango is known for. And let’s not forget that the Moto Z series runs cleaner, more functional versions of Android than the Phab 2 Pro does — that means you’d get a better all-around phone with the option of dipping in to augmented reality when the mood strikes. Google has said in the past that other Tango devices are coming, and some of them are sure to pack flagship levels of power. Until device makers figure out how build Tango into phones seamlessly, though, the optional approach Motorola could deliver just seems brilliant.
Motorola promised to upgrade its Moto Z and Moto Z Force phones to Nougat before the end of the year and today the company revealed that it’s rolling out the update before the end of November. Motorola says the Android 7.0 update will being rolling out globally this week and it delivers a big feature to the phones: Daydream. That’s right, with the addition of Nougat the Moto Z and Moto Z Force are ready to take advantage of Google’s VR platform.
What’s more, Motorola’s Moto Z duo are the first phones other than Google’s own Pixel devices to be certified as Daydream-ready. Back when the virtual reality platform as first announced, Google mentioned that existing handsets likely wouldn’t make the cut. The Moto Z and Moto Z Pure were revealed just after Daydream’s debut and both house a Snapdragon 820 processor to help with the immersive visuals on mobile. Of course, the new VR features that Nougat delivers to Motorola’s modular phones mean you can use with with Google’s $79 Daydream View headset.
You should’ve seen this one coming. Of course Motorola wasn’t going to just release two versions of the Moto Z and call it a year. While the first two — the Moto Z and Moto Z Force — had to bear the weight of flagship expectations and justify the lack of a headphone jack, the Moto Z Play merely had to be inexpensive and not terrible. Well, mission accomplished … mostly. At $449, the Z Play isn’t the cheapest mid-range phone out there, but it clears the “not terrible” bar with more room than I imagined.
All right, all right, there’s no point in being coy. The Moto Z Play is actually pretty great.
Let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way: The Moto Z Play looks almost identical to the Moto Z Force, the hardy modular flagship I tested earlier this year. That’s a good thing. From its dimensions to its fingerprint sensor to the signature camera hump around the back, the Moto Z Play looks and feels like a phone that costs almost $300 more.
The phone’s familiar design also means the return of certain annoying design quirks, like the fingerprint sensor that looks, but doesn’t act, like a home button. (I can’t complain about that too much, though, since the sensor actually works very well.) Even stranger, the so-called Moto Mods that magnetically connect to the Z Play’s back don’t feel quite as seamless as when they’re connected to other Moto Z’s. That said, most people probably won’t know the difference.
These kinds of missteps are offset by a general feeling of sturdiness, thanks in large part to the phone’s solid metal rim. My colleague Aaron rightfully gave last year’s Moto X Play some grief because Motorola didn’t pay close attention to the fine details. That’s true here too, but the caliber of construction here still elevates this mid-range phone into more premium territory. While devices like the Moto G series always felt a little chintzy compared with the more premium Moto X line, that sort of quality gap doesn’t really exist here. That doesn’t mean you can treat the Z Play as harshly as you could a Z Force, though — there’s no ShatterShield display, and the Play’s back is made not of metal, but of easily scratched glass.
The differences don’t end there. The Z Play packs a 16-megapixel camera and a 5.5-inch Super AMOLED screen running at 1080p; the regular Z and Z Force both feature Quad HD displays. That dip in screen resolution was inevitable given the Z Play’s price, but who cares — this thing has a headphone jack sitting next to its USB Type-C port. Motorola is still convinced that a single socket for power, audio and everything else is the way of the future, and its bet was vindicated when Apple did the same with the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. So what gives? Motorola’s rationale is simple: The design of the Z Play’s logic board had room for the port. The mixed message is a little confusing, but hey: No dongles necessary this time.
You wouldn’t know just by looking at it, but the Moto Z Play sits lower on the performance totem pole than either of the Moto Z’s that came before it. There’s an octacore Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 chipset inside, an Adreno 506 GPU and 3GB of RAM, all of which last for a very long time when paired with the Z Play’s 3,510mAh battery.
Remember: The Moto Z Play is modular (as evidenced by the multi-pin connector on its back), so you could strap on a magnetic battery mod for even more battery life. If only Motorola were as generous with the storage options: There’s 32GB of room on board, and only 24GB is available to you from the get-go. At least the micro-SIM tray has a spot for a microSD card with support for up to 2TB of additional space.
This isn’t my first time taking the Moto Z Play for a spin, but this version is different. It’s a fully unlocked GSM model, ready for action on AT&T and T-Mobile in the United States. If you’re a Verizon customer and don’t see yourself switching anytime soon, there’s also a version of the phone just for you — it’s physically identical but packs all of Big Red’s usual bloatware. (More on that later.)
Display and sound
It used to be that buying anything less than a flagship phone meant you got stuck with a lousy screen. Oh, how times have changed. Case in point: The Moto Z Play packs a 5.5-inch AMOLED panel offering respectable viewing angles and great clarity; I never missed the extra resolution on the Moto Z and Z Force. This screen does seem a little dim compared with the Z and Z Force displays, but you’d be hard-pressed to spot the difference when you’re just sitting around inside. Taking the phones outside is a different story, though: The Z Play’s screen is merely passable under bright sunlight, while the Z and Z Force can dial up the brightness quite a bit further. Guess Motorola had to cut corners somewhere.
I’m also fond of how the Z Play renders colors right out of the box: Sunsets and close-ups of wood seem suitably deep, as do the blues and greens that always pop up in landscape photos. If slightly oversaturated colors aren’t your thing, though, you can change things with a trip to the settings (the phone’s display mode is set to “vivid” by default). Toggling the feature to standard mode results in visuals that, while probably a little more accurate, are a lot less fun.
Speaking of things that aren’t much fun, the sound setup here leaves a lot to be desired. Then again, who didn’t see this coming? Motorola used the same lackluster system in the more premium Moto Z and Z Force, with an earpiece that doubles as the main speaker driver when you crank up the volume. Listening to music on a vanilla Z Play is passable at best -– vocals and mids can sound crisp -– and muddled at worst. I wish the Z Play’s speaker was a little louder too, but considering the sort of quality we’re working with, Motorola might have been doing us a kindness by capping the volume.
Thankfully, we have options. First, you can plug in a pair of headphones –- once more, without a dongle! -– and bypass that speaker entirely. Motorola, meanwhile, would much prefer you use that sweet, sweet Moto Mod connector around the back to magnetically lash a completely new set of speakers onto the phone. JBL’s $79 external speaker is the most useful of the multimedia mods available, and while it still focuses on mids and highs, there’s enough heaviness and clarity to its sound that most people I’ve shown it to have enjoyed the experience. You certainly don’t need Moto Mods to use the Z Play, but they are handy.
I’m pleased to report that there isn’t a whole lot to say about the Moto Z Play’s software. Yes, that’s a good thing: It’s fast, familiar and free of the bloatware that comes loaded on the Verizon-branded Z Play. If you’ve used a modern Motorola device, you could probably just leave it at that and move on. If not, well, here’s a little more.
The Motorola that’s endured so much change these past few years still prefers stock Android (in this case, 6.0.1 Marshmallow), leaving us with a software stack that’s largely untouched. That shouldn’t really surprise anyone: Motorola wasn’t going to blaze new software trails on a mid-range version of its flagship device. The look, the app launcher, the underlying functionality — it’s all just Marshmallow.
Motorola’s additions are as subtle as ever, and exist mostly in the form of smart gestures. Waving your hands over the Z Play’s face like a Jedi makes the screen light up, proffering the time and your notifications. Double-twisting your wrist launches the camera, and a relatively new double karate chop fires up the flashlight. (Pro tip: Don’t use your whole arm.)
Relatively new to the mix is a one-handed mode that’s invoked by swiping up from the bottom of the display. Motorola’s implementation isn’t perfect — you can’t resize or move the shrunken window — but it’s really useful if the 5.5-inch screen is a little too big to use with one hand. Perhaps the biggest issue with the feature is that it can be too easy to activate accidentally, which probably explains why it’s not on by default: You’ll have to dive into the included Moto app to enable it. Then there are Motorola’s voice commands, which have steadily gotten more precise since they debuted on the original Moto X three years ago. They’re nice enough to have and work as well as they always did — just don’t expect the same sort of conversational fluidity you’d get from something like the new Google Assistant.
And that’s really it. As a brief aside, this is the first time I’ve used an unlocked version of the Moto Z, and I can’t stress how much nicer it feels to use without all that carrier-mandated bloatware. Android device manufacturers now realize that cleanliness, while not that close to godliness, is a virtue worth exploring when it comes to interfaces. To date, few phone makers match Motorola in its devotion to pure Android, and I’ll keep doling out the kudos as long as the company keeps at it.
The Moto Z Play’s main camera is a mixed bag, but not for the reasons you’d expect. In terms of pure resolution, the 16-megapixel sensor here sits somewhere between the Moto Z’s 13-megapixel camera and the Z Force’s much better 21-megapixel shooter. Not bad, right? Well, hold on: The Z Play camera works with an f/2.0 aperture, as compared with the f/1.8 apertures used by both of its predecessors. In other words, the Z Play is technically capable of capturing a little more photographic nuance than the bog-standard Moto Z, but lags behind it when it comes to low-light performance. The Z Play’s camera also lacks optical image stabilization, making it slightly more susceptible to blurry edges and obscured faces, especially when it’s dark.
So yes, your poorly lit bar photos won’t turn out great. Even so, the Z Play doesn’t completely drop the ball, and — perhaps more important — it’s capable of producing some really attractive shots when the lights come back up. Colors seem accurately represented (though you might sometimes see whites turn a little blue), and there was often plenty of detail to gawk at. The very act of snapping photos is quick too, with basically zero lag before taking a new shot.
I’ve tested plenty of faster, all-around better smartphone cameras this year, but the Moto Z Play’s is nonetheless remarkable in two ways. First, it’s a little more than half the price of those photographically superior phones. More important, the gap between the camera in this mid-range phone and the cameras in the flagship Moto Z’s can be surprisingly small. The Moto Z Force’s more advanced setup has the clear edge, but under the right conditions it’s easy to get similar results out of all three Z phones.
Meanwhile, the 5-megapixel front-facing camera is perfectly adequate, packing a wide-angle lens for squeezing more friends into selfies, and video footage came out clean, if a little unremarkable. All told, Motorola has a potent little photographic package here, though sticklers for premium quality will want to look elsewhere. And hey, if the camera really doesn’t do it for you, Motorola sure would love if you went out and bought one of those $250 Hasselblad camera mods — it’ll replace that default shooter with a 12-megapixel sensor developed in part by people known for their crazy-expensive cameras.
Performance and battery life
All right, quick recap: The Moto Z Play has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 chipset, 3GB of RAM and an Adreno 506 GPU ticking away inside it. I can already tell some people’s eyes are glazing over because that chipset’s model number doesn’t start with an “8,” but I’m here to tell you the 625 is a capable little slab of silicon. When it comes to thumbing through open apps, swiping through menus and the rest of the day-to-day actions one doesn’t pay that much attention to, the Z Play moves like a flagship phone: quickly and with a minimum of fuss.
For people who ultimately don’t ask much of their smartphones, the Moto Z Play has more than enough power to keep everything moving at a more than reasonable pace. Things can change pretty quickly when you fire up some graphically intensive games, though. That’s when the occasional sluggishness can set in. Again, that’s not a shocker or anything: Mid-range phones are getting better all the time, but most of the not-quite-high-end phones we’ve played with this year act the same way.
Moto G4 Plus
3DMark IS Unlimited
GFXBench 3.0 1080p Manhattan Offscreen (fps)
SunSpider 1.0.2: Android devices tested in Chrome; lower scores are better.
There is, however, one big upside to this merely average performance: The Moto Z Play’s battery life is absolutely killer. Motorola claims that the phone can run for up to 50 hours on a single charge, and I’ll be damned if that wasn’t my experience over two weeks of testing. Consider my usual workflow: There’s a lot of Slack messages and emails flying around, not to mention a spot of gaming and some podcasts here and there. On typical days the Moto Z Play would stick around for about 45 full hours before needing a recharge.
That’s not two workdays, but nearly two full rotations of the earth. Hell, with Wi-Fi on and connected, I saw the Z Play creep just a little past the advertised 50 hours over a quiet weekend. Obviously, those figures would tank if I spent more than a little time playing Hearthstone or bingeing on YouTube videos, but there’s a certain sort of liberation to be found when you don’t have to constantly fret about your phone living or dying.
You probably don’t need me to tell you this, but you can get a lot of phone for not much money. The Moto Z Play is a remarkably polished package for $449, but don’t forget to check out these other options too.
The upstarts behind the OnePlus 3 should be proud: They’ve built a flagship-level device that costs only $399. As such, it’s perhaps the best alternate for a device like the Moto Z Play — it packs an incredibly fast Snapdragon 820 chipset, a superior camera and a barely modified version of Android into a sleek metal body. And if you’re on the hunt for even better value, you might want to consider Motorola’s Moto G4 Plus. It’s not as handsome or as long-lasting as the Z Play, but it costs a full $200 less and provides ample power for people who don’t need a full-on flagship.
Ah, but the Z Play has an edge … or least, it’ll appear that way to some people. The Moto Z Play works (and works well) with the full range of Motorola’s Moto Mods, so the functionality you get out of the box is far from the functionality you’ll have in six months, or a year. If this appeals to you, know that there’s very little else out there that can satisfy this modular itch. LG’s G5 was the first major flagship phone that leaned into the idea of a modular body, and it certainly deserves props for its chutzpah. While its ecosystem of “Friendly” accessories is broader than what the Moto Z’s have access to, these add-ons are undeniably less elegant. The extra horsepower afforded by the Snapdragon 820 chipset is nice, but Motorola’s approach to modular design is by far the best.
It can be hard to get worked up about devices that don’t aspire to be the greatest thing you’ll ever slide into a pocket, but even so: The Moto Z Play won me over. Its occasional lack of horsepower can be frustrating (especially if you’re into gaming), but Motorola deserves credit for building a phone that feels like so much more than the sum of its parts. It’s not perfect, it’s not waterproof and it’s not flashy. What it is, however, is “there for you” because of its tremendous battery life. Between that and the flexibility afforded by a slew of Moto Mods, we have a smartphone that almost redefines what it means to be mid-range.
There’s one in every family: The uber geek who pretty much has it all when it comes to tech basics. They don’t need a laptop or a fancy TV. But don’t worry, there’s always some gap in their collection of gadgets that you can easily fill. And remember, the more niche the product, the better gift it is for these folks.
You could get them started on building out their smart home with a lock like August or Kevo. Or maybe they need a central hub to control their sprawling network of connected goods from, like an Amazon Echo Dot. If the nerd in your life is too young for a smart home, you can always pick them up a high-tech take on the paper airplane or a box of tinker toys like LittleBits, to get them start on their journey to become the next great inventor.
For our full list of recommendations in all categories, don’t forget to stop by our main Holiday Gift Guide hub.
Motorola has just launched the 5.5-inch mid-range Moto M by way of its listing on Tmall (China’s equivalent of Amazon). The Moto lineup always garners a lot of interest, thanks to previous stellar models like the Moto G and Moto X Pure Edition. However, the latest model is a bit disappointing. It does have a splash-proof metal unibody and brand new rear fingerprint sensor, but at $295, it’s specifications are wanting next to rival devices.
The device doesn’t pack a massive 5,100 mAh battery as had been rumored, but that was a rather doubtful claim. And the 4GB of RAM, 16-megapixel rear camera and P2i hydrophobic coating are nice, but the eight-core MediaTek Helio P15 processor seems weirdly out of place on a Motorola device. Other specs, at least on the China version, include a 1080p screen, dual SIMs, 32GB of storage and Dolby Atmos sound.
The specs aren’t bad overall, but the device has serious competition now, especially in China. For the same price, you can get the Xiaomi Mi 5s, for instance, which comes with the latest Snapdragon 821 CPU and a front, ultrasonic fingerprint sensor. Perhaps the Moto M will have a better chance outside of China.
Via: Engadget Chinese
The smartwatch market isn’t quite as red-hot as it looked in recent months. IDC estimates that smartwatch shipments fell by just shy of 52 percent year-over-year in the third quarter of 2016, with the biggest names often being the hardest hit. Apple was still the top dog, but its shipments fell almost 72 percent to 1.1 million. Samsung’s shipments were virtually flat, while Lenovo and Pebble saw their unit numbers drop sharply. Interestingly, the only company in the top five to see a big surge was Garmin — the relative newcomer’s shipments more than tripled to 600,000. Should the industry be worried? Not necessarily.
The problem, appropriately enough, is timing. The periods aren’t strictly comparable — many manufacturers had just launched new watches last summer, but had nothing new to show (or had barely started deliveries) a year later. The original Apple Watch was widely available in Q3 of 2015, for instance, but Series 1 and Series 2 models didn’t arrive until the last two weeks of this past quarter. Samsung has yet to ship the Gear S3, there was no third-generation Moto 360 and Pebble only started shipping its newest watches in September.
This doesn’t mean that you can expect a year-over-year recovery in the fourth quarter. It’s possible that the enthusiasm for smartwatches has cooled off, and that we’re seeing what the market is really like now that early adopters have devices on their wrists. There should at least be a season-to-season improvement, however, thanks to both new hardware and the usual holiday rush. And the smartwatch field is still young. Even veterans like Pebble and Samsung are still trying to figure out what works, and the technology is still new enough that features like GPS and LTE data are still big deals whenever they show up.
This week may well be dominated by the launch of the new iPhone, but that doesn’t mean Apple’s smartphone rivals are holding things back. After a few months of US exclusivity, Lenovo has finally brought its super-customisable all-metal Moto Z to the UK.
The 5.5-inch quad HD smartphone is now available on the Motorola store for £499, offering a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, a 2600mAh battery with TurboPower charging and a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera. Oh, and it’s ditched the headphone jack in favour of a USB-C connector.
Like its predecessors, the Moto Z can be run through Lenovo’s Moto Maker service. However, if you’re looking to create a truly bespoke masterpiece, you’re going to be disappointed. Colour options are limited to White & Fine Gold or Black & Lunar Grey and there’s no scope to increase the onboard storage. The company does have an ace up its sleeve, though, and that’s Moto Mods.
Moto Mods are Lenovo’s answer to the LG G5’s swap-out modules. There are four magnetised modules — the Incipio offGRID Power Pack, JBL SoundBoost Speaker, Hasselblad True Zoom and Moto Insta-Share Projector — that attach to the back of the Moto Z and give it more battery, better sound or clearer optics. The accessories start at £60 and range up to £250.
It was only announced last week, but the mid-range Moto Z Play is also live on the Motorola store, although it is currently out of stock. The 5.2-inch £370 Android device houses an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625, 3GB of RAM, 16-megapixel camera and a 3,510mAh battery. More importantly, it does have a headphone jack.
If you put your order in today, your Moto Z should be with you by September 14th, just before the iPhone 7 hits stores. The Moto Z Play, on the other hand, should be widely available later this week.
Source: Moto Z
Motorola’s budget-minded Moto G lineup just got an even more affordable addition thanks to Amazon’s Prime exclusives. For a mere $99.99 unlocked, the newly announced Moto G4 Play comes loaded with Android 6.0 Marshmallow and solid specs like 4G LTE, a 5-inch 720p display driven by a quad-core Snapdragon processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB internal storage and an 8-megapixel camera with a 5-megapixel selfie shooter.
Of course, that low price is subsidized by display ads, so users will be receiving personalized offers and product recommendations on the phone’s lockscreen. Assuming you already have a Prime membership and don’t mind dismissing the ads occasionally, you’ll save a cool $50 off the retail price. And because it comes unlocked out of the box, the Moto G4 Play will work with any major network in the US. The G4 Play is available for pre-order from Amazon today and ships on September 15th.
For a step up in specs, the slightly more powerful and highly rated Moto G4 is also available under the Prime exclusives deal. The fourth-generation G boasts a 5.5-inch full HD display with a 1.5 GHz octa-core processor and 13-megapixel camera, all for $149.99 unlocked. Finally, rounding out the Prime exclusives lineup is the BLU R1 HD for a low-low price of $49.99. While it isn’t BLU’s most powerful phone, the company has a solid reputation for dependable and feature-packed budget handsets.