Moto Z2 Force review

Motorola’s refined Android phone, now slimmer in all ways

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Android 7.1.1 and Moto apps

Motorola isn’t a Google company anymore, but it uses stock Android with very few refinements, and the ones that are here, we actually like outside of carrier-imposed apps.

Our AT&T Moto Z2 Force review unit, for example, came with Firefox Mobile and a dozen other app advertisements no one had asked for. There are a lot of commercial deals here for a phone that isn’t any cheaper than it was a year ago.

Firefox Mobile? The AT&T version promotes this browser over Google Chrome

Firefox Mobile? The AT&T version promotes this browser over Google Chrome

The good news is that Android 7.1.1 presents some refinements if you’re upgrading from an older Android phone. The app drawer button is gone, but the drawer itself is still here. Just swipe up on the bottom tray of home screen icons. Nested notifications make the notification shade cleaner, too. Quick settings icons are now somewhat customizable.

You can summon Google Assistant by giving the fingerprint sensor pad an extra-long press. So, remember, that’s tap to go to home, long press to turn the screen on and off and longer press to initiate Google Assistant. It’s confusing for the first day and that’s it. Your muscle memory will adjust.

Other Moto shortcuts we liked include twist the phone twice to open the camera, karate chop twice to turn on the flashlight, and turn the phone over to activate Do Not Disturb. That’s ideal for meetings or dinner time conversations.

Specs and performance

Moto Z2 can be just as fast as the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus, and it’s no wonder, it has the same specs, at least in the US. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 is the chipset of most new Android flagship phones launching right now.

The only time we ever saw slowdown was when we were re-downloading all of our apps to the phone. At that point, it was about half as fast as normal. Multitaskers shouldn’t have a serious problem, however. The Snapdragon 835, so far, has had a good track record.

It’s coupled with an Adreno 540 graphics chip, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage – except outside the US where it’ll get 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. You can at least remedy the storage shortfall since all versions include a microSD card slot.

Matt Swider