Moto Z2 release date, news and rumors

Hopefully it won't be any thinner

Update: New images and rumors have revealed almost everything there is to know about the Moto Z2 Play.

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 Play, 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

There aren’t any release date rumors yet, but the Moto Z was announced on June 9 and new models of phones tend to be launched around a year later, so a June 2017 announcement is likely.

And our best guess right now is June 8, as while that hasn't been attached to the Moto Z2, an image of the Moto Z2 Play has leaked with exactly that date shown on the screen, and it's likely that the two phones would be launched together.

But 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 June 2017 announcement is our best guess for now, followed by a late July or early September launch.

Moto Z2 screen

We haven't yet heard any news on the size or resolution of the standard Moto Z2's screen, but rumors and a leaked presentation slide suggest that the Moto Z Play will have a 5.5-inch 1080p display, while the Moto Z Force will have a tough ShatterShield screen.

Interestingly, no normal Moto Z2 is listed, which could mean we won't see one, but if we do we'd expect it will have a sharper screen than the Z2 Play.

The original Moto Z 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 roughly 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

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 finally 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.

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.

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Credit: WinFuture
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Credit: WinFuture

The Moto Z2 Play, courtesy of another leaked image, looks somewhat similar, with a metal frame and back, a redesigned home button and a round camera lens - though only one lens, not two.

The Moto Z2 Play has been leaked again in a few other images (visible above), showing the same design in white/gold, black/grey and white/silver, but with one source adding that it will be just 6.6mm thick.

TechRadar's take: A similar but refined and possibly slightly thicker build is likely. Motorola probably won't bring back the headphone port though.

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. Though this may only make it to the main Moto Z2 and not the Moto Z2 Play.

We've also heard rumors that the Moto Z2 Play will have a single-lens 12MP camera with a dual-LED flash, a laser autofocus and the ability to shoot 4K video. The same source adds that there will be a 5MP front-facing camera with a single-LED flash.

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 is rumored to have a 3,000mAh one - which would actually be 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

We know absolutely nothing about what will be powering the Moto Z (2017), but we can take an educated guess.

As a flagship phone it’s likely to use one of the best mobile chipsets available, which will probably mean the Snapdragon 835. 

There's 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, but it might jump to 6GB, as that looks set to be the next flagship standard.

Credit: TecDuos

We have heard some things about the power of the Moto Z2 Play though. That's said to have an octa-core Snapdragon 626 chipset, 64GB of storage space and 4GB of RAM - with evidence for that being shown in a leaked picture of the retail box.

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 6GB 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

MotoMods were one of the highlights of the original Moto Z, so we don’t expect they’ll be going anywhere. 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 next year.

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 MotoMods, 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.