Moto Z2 release date, news and rumors

Update: Motorola itself has posted a shot of the Moto Z2, so we now have a good idea of how it looks. Elsewhere, a benchmark has revealed many of the likely specs, and an event invite suggests the full unveiling will happen on July 25, and that we'll see the Moto Z2 Force alongside it.

Motorola ditched the Moto X for 2016 and instead gave us the Moto Z (along with the Moto Z Force and Moto Z Play).

This trio of phones each earned four-star reviews from us, and we praised the flagship Moto Z for its incredibly slim design, innovative accessories and fingerprint scanner that does more than just scan.

But as strong as the Moto Z is, it wasn’t quite deserving of five stars, so with that in mind we’ve come up with a list of things we want from the Moto Z2 that could bump it up a point.

You’ll find that on page two of this article, but first we’ve collected all the news and rumors on Motorola’s next flagship for your perusal, including leaks surrounding the Moto Z2 Force, which might launch alongside it.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? Motorola's next flagship
  • When is it out? Probably mid-2017
  • What will it cost? A lot, but possibly less than some high-end phones

Moto Z2 release date

It looks like we'll probably see the Moto Z2 on July 25, as Motorola has sent out invites to an event on that date.

The invite doesn't say what's being announced, but since then a teaser has been sent out, strongly hinting that we'll see the Moto Z2 Force.

That might not be the only phone we see though and the standard Z2 is an obvious candidate too, especially as the timing lines up, as the original Moto Z was announced on June 9 and new models of phones tend to be launched around a year later.

Then again, as the Moto Z2 Play was only recently launched the company might wait a bit longer to launch the standard Z2, in order to spread its phones out.

And even if it is announced soon, that's probably not when you’ll be able to actually buy it, as the original Moto Z didn’t hit stores until July 28 – nearly two months after its announcement. 

Trusted Twitter leaker Evan Blass has confirmed the Moto Z2 name in a tweet, but it's uncertain where he got the information from and he doesn't know anymore about the release date.

TechRadar's take: A July 2017 announcement is looking very likely, but it may not hit stores for another month or two.

Moto Z2 screen

A benchmark pegs the Moto Z2's screen at 5.5 inches, with a resolution of 1440 x 2560.

That makes sense, as the original Moto Z also has a 5.5-inch 1440 x 2560 display, and there’s every chance the Moto Z (2017)’s screen will be exactly the same size and resolution.

Any smaller could be seen as a downgrade, while larger would perhaps make it a bit too much of a phablet for the company’s main flagship (though that didn’t stop the Moto X Style having a 5.7-inch screen).

As for the resolution, there’s really no need for more than a QHD display other than perhaps for VR. That could have a big year in 2017, thanks to the launch of Google Daydream, but we’re not convinced it will be enough of a factor to push the resolution of the Moto Z2 up.

TechRadar's take: We'd expect a 5.5-inch QHD screen, just like on the original Moto Z, but there are likely to be improvements behind the scenes.

Moto Z2 design

Hottest leaks:

  • A metal shell
  • A slim build

We now have a good idea of how the Moto Z2 looks, at least from the back, as Motorola itself has accidentally posted a picture of it, which you can see below.

The image shows what looks to be a metal back and a similar overall design to the Moto Z2 Play, but with a dual-lens camera.

One of the key design aspects of the original Moto Z was its incredibly slim 5.2mm thick build. This gave it an eye-catching look, and meant it was slim enough that MotoMods could be added without leaving you with an overly chunky phone, but it also meant the 3.5mm headphone jack had to be removed, and that’s a decision that wasn’t so popular.

Therefore, there’s a chance that Motorola will thicken up the Moto Z (2017) in order to reinstate the port. A leak from Android Authority suggests the company will bring back the 3.5mm headphone port and take some design cues from the Moto G5 for the Moto Z2.

Leaked renders of the Moto Z2 Force suggest the phone will come with a band that goes around the edge of the device to allow for better radio access to the four antennas expected in the phone. You can see the renders from Android Authority and OnLeaks in the gallery below.

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That exact same design has leaked once again, suggesting it's quite possibly accurate. For the standard Moto Z2, the design looks to stay similar with a metal frame and back, and, assuming it stays super thin, a camera lens jutting out on the rear.

credit @OnLeaks and @Slashleaks

We've also seen what appears to be the Moto Z2 in the leaked shot above. As you can see for yourself, it looks a lot like the original Moto Z, and matches up with the shot posted by Motorola.

However, the fingerprint sensor takes after the concave design found on the Moto G5 and the rear dual camera system makes us think that Tango could be coming to this upcoming iteration.

We can also look to the Moto Z2 Play for hints at the possible design of the Moto Z2. That phone is slim at 5.99mm and has smooth edges, a metal build and a headphone port, which was lacking from the Moto Z.

TechRadar's take: A similar but refined and possibly slightly thicker build is likely. Motorola may even bring back the headphone port if the phone is thicker.

Moto Z2 camera and battery

Hottest leaks:

  • Fewer, larger pixels
  • OIS
  • A dual-lens camera

The Moto Z has a 13MP rear camera, but early rumors suggest that could be changing for the Moto Z (2017), as leaker @Ricciolo1 has tweeted that the Moto Z (2017) will have a lower megapixel count, but larger pixels and quality lenses, allowing for enhanced low light images.

The tweet adds that it will have laser autofocus and optical image stabilization – both of which are already features of the Moto Z.

Additionally, a recent leak appears to show off a dual camera system, which could bring some interesting portrait functions and, potentially, Tango augmented reality tech.

Then again, a benchmark lists just a single-lens 12MP camera, which can shoot 4K video, and it claims there's a 5MP camera around the front.

Whatever happens we expect something will change, as while the original Moto Z has a good camera, it’s not a match for the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S7, HTC 10, or indeed most of 2016’s flagships, as you can see in our best camera phone test.

We also hope for changes to the battery, as the Moto Z is far from long-lasting, thanks to a small 2,600mAh juice pack. The limited size may have been necessary to get the phone as thin as it is, but it holds the handset back, so is likely to be an area of focus for Motorola on 2017’s model.

We don't know what size battery the standard Moto Z2 will have, but the Moto Z2 Play has a 3,000mAh one - which is actually smaller than the Moto Z Play's.

TechRadar's take: We're sure Motorola will work to improve both the camera and battery for the Moto Z (2017). In fact, they're likely to be the areas that get the most attention, but it's too early to say exactly what the changes will be.

Moto Z2 OS and power

Hottest leaks:

  • A Snapdragon 835 chipset
  • 4GB of RAM

It's been a long time coming, but we finally have some news on what's powering the Moto Z2, as a Geekbench benchmark labelled 'Moto Z (2)' lists a phone with 4GB of RAM and a Snapdragon 835 chipset, along with Android 7.1.1.

There's also some evidence for that chipset on the Moto Z2 Force, as it's rumored to offer speedy gigabit LTE for fast mobile data speeds, and the Snapdragon 835 is the only current Snapdragon chip to support that.

And as the original Moto Z has 4GB of RAM you can expect at least that much again, so the benchmark is believable.

Another benchmark also lists that chipset and RAM combination, along with 64GB of storage.

All versions of the Moto Z2 will run Android of course, and given a likely mid-2017 launch they will probably be on Nougat – and a close-to-stock version of it.

TechRadar's take: A Snapdragon 835 chip and 4GB of RAM would be our guess for the main Moto Z2 - likely giving it the specs to rival other 2017 flagships.

Moto Z2 other features

Moto Mods were one of the highlights of the original Moto Z, so we don’t expect they’ll be going anywhere, especially as the Moto Z2 Play has launched with support for them. These are optional accessories that you can attach to the phone to add or improve features.

Current examples include a projector and an optical zoom lens, while a Tango mod, that would add augmented reality features like those found on the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro, is expected to land soon.

We’d also expect the fingerprint scanner to remain, and for it to usefully be able to turn the screen off, as well as waking it up, just as it can on the original Moto Z.

TechRadar's take: Don't expect too much in the way of new features, but improvements to existing ones, and plenty of Moto Mods, are likely.

Moto Z2 price

For now, all we can do is look at the price of the original Moto Z, which started at $699/£499/AU$999 SIM-free. The Moto Z (2017) is likely to have a similar price tag, but if anything it could be more expensive.