Moto Mods Introduction
Update: Motorola has just launched its latest MotoMod, the Moto smart speaker with Amazon Alexa. Click through the gallery to find out more.
Motorola's Moto Mods are snap-on extensions that can greatly expand what the Moto Z family of phones can do today...as well as tomorrow.
Initially launched in 2016 alongside the flagship Moto Z, Motorola has since added more Mods to the lineup - plus a number of third party manufacturers are developing modular attachments for the Z series of handsets as well.
We've spent a long time playing with the new Moto Mods (and some of the older ones too!) and we're bringing you our updated findings here so you can decide whether they're the add on you need (or whether you want to spend money getting a Moto Z phone in the first place).
But these are just the official ones - what's awesome is that third parties are making Moto Mods themselves too, and you can check all those out from the link just below.
Each MotoMod is similar to the next in that they all fit to the form of the Moto Z, Moto Z Force, Moto Z Play, Moto Z2 Play and the newly announced , but differ in the unique functionality that they bring to the table.
Unlike the LG G5, which used LG's not-so-hot-swappable "Friends" line of modules, MotoMods are magnetized. They activate by connecting to the pins on the back of the device a la Smart Connector on the iPad Pro.
Here's a breakdown of each and every MotoMod confirmed so far.
Moto Style Shell
The Moto Z family of phones boast a slick, aluminum chassis, but in case you want to switch up your style from time to time you can customize your own design to slap right onto the phone.
These are the cheapest, and thinnest MotoMods available, which makes sense since they don't add any functionality to speak of.
They are simply to cater to taste and at that, offer more than reason enough to exist at launch. There are two fabic, one leather and three wood effects to choose from, with the leather and wood finishes costing a little extra.
They really finish off the phone, and they add a level of customisation that phones today are lacking unless you want to snap on a case. However, we still wish there were more.
Incipio offGRID Power Pack
This one was a given: a MotoMod that increases battery life. Whereas a battery-boosting case might have previously been a bulky addition to any phone, the Incipio MotoMod is surprisingly slim-fitting.
In addition to fitting the styling of Moto's latest, it adds 2,220mAh of juice onto the battery already inside the Moto Z phones.
Simply put, if you run out of battery with this MotoMod attached it's not to fault, you are.
This Mod may not be on sale for much longer though, as Motorola has just launched the Moto Turbopower Pack with a larger power pack and fast-charging capabilities. Read more about it in a few slides time!
JBL Soundboost Speaker
In terms of sound quality, JBL's MotoMod is the equivalent of slapping a Bluetooth speaker onto your phone.
In addition to giving your jams a boot in the pants, it puts a kickstand on the Moto Z phones and gives them up to an extra 10 hours of battery life thanks to its 1,000mAh of battery capacity.
Plus, because it snaps directly onto the back of the handset there's no Bluetooth pairing to be done - it connects automatically as soon as you snap it to the phone, so get ready to hit the play button.
This Mod may not be on sale for much longer though, as Motorola has just launched the JBL Soundboost Speaker 2 with a thinner, more rounded design and water resistant finish. Read more about it in a few slides time!
Incipio Vehicle Dock
The Incipio Vehicle Dock MotoMod gives you an easy way to mount your handset to an air vent in your car.
It's compatible with Android Auto and features a fast charging adapter to ensure you're always topped up and your hands are free to drive.
It's nothing that really adds a great deal of functionality, but it's a great example of how modularity in smartphones should work, with multiple options that let you rejig how you use the phone.
Hasselblad True Zoom
No smartphone currently on the market can boast a 10x optical zoom, but if you own a Moto Z handset you can make that claim if you're willing to splash the cash on the Hasselblad True Zoom Mod.
This MotoMod puts a proper camera lens on your phone, complete with an optical zoom - which means you don't lose quality when you zoom in.
There's a Xenon flash as well, which means better lit pictures versus the LED flashes that adorn the rear of our phones at the moment.
For photography enthusiasts the inclusion of a physical shutter button and zoom controls will be most welcome, making shooting much easier than having to manipulate a touchscreen.
However, in our tests with it, we're less than impressed. Yes, the quality of the zoom is incredible, and we love that there's a physical zoom switch to pull, but overall this Mod could be better.
The lag on the shutter is too great compared to using the normal camera, and it would be great if the Mod used the general camera app and augmented it, rather than having a whole new app to learn.
It's a great Mod if you've got the time to craft a great shot or would use your phone on a tripod, but we're really waiting for the sequel here to improve things.
Moto Insta-Share Projector
This is the moment where you can see parent company Lenovo's DNA mix with that of Motorola's.
We've already seen Lenovo put projectors into its mobile products, including the Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro tablet, but it's still a little surprising to find see the tech making its way to the Moto Z family.
Connecting the Moto Insta-Share Projector is a simple as the others, but offers totally different perks. A projector doesn't require much explanation, but one that's packed into a case-sized attachment is a different story.
This MotoMod can push out up to 70 inches of mobile content goodness at 854 x 480, which is 480p.
It means you're looking at sub-HD, which isn't exactly impressive, but it's a great party piece to be able to pull out. Also, the Insta-Share Projector adds one hour of battery life to your phone which will easily see you through a movie.
In real terms though, it's as good as you'd expect it to be. In bright light, the screen can be hard to see, and the sound output isn't great... you need Bluetooth headphones for sure for a solo watch.
But in darker conditions it's a fun option to have - and the fact the Moto Z2 Force is going to be sold with the projector free is a brilliant extra to have. We also really like the way the projected display will automatically reshape to stay level - that's the right kind of thinking.
Moto Style Shell with Wireless Charging
The Style Shells earlier in this gallery may be slim and cheap, but they don't offer anything in terms of functionality. Thankfully Motorola has realized this and now offers Style Shells with Wireless Charging built in.
They remain slender at just 3.25mm, and are compatible with all wireless charging standards, which means they'll work with any wireless charger.
In reality, they're almost identical to the standard shells, and only a marking on the inside says any differently.
You don't get a wireless charging pad in the box however, so if you don't already have one it's an additional cost to consider.
Currently the Style Shells with Wireless Charging are available in the US, but they will be coming to the UK soon.
Moto Turbopower Pack
Price: $TBC | £TBC | AU$99
We said earlier than the Incipio Power Pack may be phased out, and that's because Motorola has launched the Moto Turbopower Pack.
This offers an additional 3,490mAh battery on top of the one already inside your Moto Z handset, and at 6.58mm it doesn't add an excessive amount of bulk to the phone. It still fits in a pocket, but it's fair to say you - and others - will notice it's there.
Motorola says the Turbopower Pack will give you an extra day of battery life before you need to dash to a charger, plus its quick charging tech means you can snap it on and regain 50% charge in just 20 minutes.
It's a little chunky, but what's great is that it's an easy snap-on when you want to grab a bit more juice... and the Mod itself will charge even faster than the phone can, so keeping it topped up is going to be really easy.
What's weird is you can choose between speed and efficiency in the charging ability, as surely that should be the same thing... but it seems that using the Turbo pack at full power isn't going to give you a long-lasting battery.
At the moment the Turbopower Pack isn't available to buy, but we should find out its release date and price very soon.
JBL Soundboost 2
Another Mod on the rocks is the original Soundboost, and that's thanks to the newer JBL Soundboost 2.
It sports a thinner 14.5mm body, a more rounded design making the phone easier to hold when it's attached and a new water resistant finish to protect it against life's little spills.
There are two 27mm speakers housed inside the MotoMod, with a total power output of 6W - 3W per speaker.
We had a play with this at the Moto Z2 Force launch, and it was just fine. The sound pumps backwards, so we'd suggest you use this against a wall or other surface, but the output was strong and the slim nature of the Mod thinner than we expected.
Again, the Soundboost 2 is already available in the US, with UK pricing and availability to be announced soon.
If you're into gaming on your mobile, the Moto Gamepad mod will be right up your street.
It gives you two analogue sticks, a D-pad and face buttons and is compatible with any game that already supports Bluetooth controllers - such as Real Racing 3.
Oddly enough, the Moto Gamepad is now available in the US exclusively at Verizon wireless. We're currently trying to figure out if and when availability will spread outside of the US.
Motorola has told TechRadar that it's working with major game developers including EA, Ubisoft and Gameloft to bring support to a number of high-end mobile games.
That's something the Mod sorely needs, as right now it doesn't have as much use as we'd like. It's basically a slightly-superior Bluetooth controller thanks to lower latency, but it's not a huge difference.
But with some AAA mobile games, this could be a real boon to portable play, and a real reason to buy a Moto Z handset - especially those with improved graphical prowess.
At the moment the Moto Gamepad isn't available to buy, but we should find out its release date and price very soon.
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Moto 360 camera
Launched alongside the Moto Z2 Force, the Moto 360 camera is the latest MotoMod in Motorola's expanding arsenal of smartphone add-ons.
As the name suggests - allows you to capture full 360 degree 4K video with 3D audio as well as ultra-wide, 150 degree images.
Editing software is also included, allow you to edit your 360 video masterpiece on your Moto Z range handset.
The Mod itself is surprisingly slimline given what it's actually doing, and a little cap on the camera is something that you'll want to work hard not to lose.
You can also stream live 360 degree footage using the 360 camera MotoMod, and as with all the other official MotoMods it's compatible with all phones in the Moto Z family.
Moto Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa
Price: $149.99 | £99 | AU$TBC
What happens if you combine an Amazon Echo Dot with a smartphone? The answer, it seems, is the Moto smart speaker with Amazon Alexa.
This mode, launched in October 2017, brings the retail giant's voice assistant directly to your handset, allowing you to pose questions, ask for news, weather or jokes and control your smartphone by simply barking commands at your phone.
The mod includes its own speaker for improved audio - perfect when it comes to playing music - and a battery which can last up to 15 hours, so it shouldn't drain your phone's power pack.