Why Motorola isn’t bringing mods to the Moto G5

On its own, the Moto Z is but a thin, well-designed flagship smartphone. But with Moto Mods, it has become something more than just that. These optional modules bring new, forward-thinking features to an aging device to keep it interesting as time goes on.

And although it’s a brilliant concept and executed way better than LG’s Friends campaign could dream of, there’s a bit of a problem. And it started to show itself with the Moto G5.

The leaks leading up to the unveiling showed that it has a removable battery, which got me thinking: “Motorola should bring mods to the low-end.”

Currently, the company is only serving these extra features to customers who have a considerable amount of expendable income. But as the idea behind modules is to enrich and empower people with the freedom of choice, the Moto G5 seemed to be the perfect place to expand.

But, as you know, that didn’t happen, so I sat down with Dan Dery, the vice president of Lenovo’s mobile business group to discuss why the company didn’t make the move.

“You’re telling me I have not, yet I haven’t said no to it,” Dery retorted.

“You haven’t seen anything so far, but I can give you a reason as to why it’s not coming now. Mods have to promise to be backward compatible for two years and obviously, there are limitations as to how low we can go and how sustainable that can be.”

So, is the Moto G5 too “low” in terms of performance, as Dery stated? While it definitely isn’t as powerful as the Moto Z (or even close, for that matter) it isn’t a pushover. It feels that, at this stage, Moto’s budget line would be a perfect fit for mods. But, his answer indicates that there’s more to the story.

“The last thing we want to do, and this is what I always keep in mind, I don’t want to end up with a fragmented ecosystem. That would be the worst. If we start being more complicated than that, we’ll kill the whole thing.”

It seems as if Moto still has mods on the mind for its affordable, highly acclaimed lineup in the future, though that day hasn’t come yet. And honestly, it feels like a bit of a missed opportunity to steal the show at MWC 2017.

But those disappointed have to appreciate that Moto isn’t forcing it. If anything, this year’s Moto G seems to be the phone that is tying its budget and premium devices together.

Maybe after another year, possibly at MWC 2018 or before, we’ll see Moto’s full suite of ambitious feature-expanding mods working on a phone that won’t cost you as much as the Moto Z. 

MWC (Mobile World Congress) is the world's largest exhibition for the mobile industry, stuffed full of the newest phones, tablets, wearables and more. TechRadar is reporting live from Barcelona all week to bring you the very latest from the show floor. Head to our dedicated MWC 2017 hub to see all the new releases, along with TechRadar's world-class analysis and buying advice about your next phone.

Cameron Faulkner

Cameron is a writer at The Verge, focused on reviews, deals coverage, and news. He wrote for magazines and websites such as The Verge, TechRadar, Practical Photoshop, Polygon, Eater and Al Bawaba.