Moto Z (2017): what we want to see

Hopefully it won't be any thinner

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 Z (2017) 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.

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 Z (2017) 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.

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.

And Motorola isn’t entirely consistent with its release dates either, as that phone’s predecessor, the Moto X Style, was announced on July 28 2015 and available to buy from September 2. So really anywhere from June-September are possible launch dates for the Moto Z (2017).

TechRadar's take: A June 2017 announcement is our best guess for now, followed by a late July or early September launch.

Moto Z (2017) screen

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).

We’ve also seen the first leaked images of what might be the Moto Z (2017). According to the source, speaking to TechDroider, it’s the Moto X (2017), but it’s possible that these two phones are one and the same, since the X range used to be Motorola’s flagships.

It’s impossible to make out the exact size of the screen from this shot, but it doesn’t look like it’s more than 5.5 inches.

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 Z (2017) 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 Z (2017) 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.

Otherwise the design might remain similar, with a metal frame and back, and, assuming it stays super thin, a camera lens jutting out on the rear.

We haven’t seen any leaked shots of the Moto Z (2017) yet, but thanks to TechDroider we have seen what’s supposedly the Moto X (2017), which could be one and the same, and even if it’s not the two may well share a similar design.

Based on the leak, seen above, it will have a similar metal-heavy design to the original Moto Z, with a round camera lens sticking out, a fingerprint scanner below the screen and, apparently, a silver or gold color scheme.

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 Z (2017) camera and battery

Hottest leaks:

  • Fewer, larger pixels
  • OIS

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.

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.

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 Z (2017) 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. 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.

The Moto Z (2017) will run Android of course, and given a likely mid-2017 launch it 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 - likely giving it the specs to rival other 2017 flagships.

Moto Z (2017) 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 Z (2017) 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.