Moto Z3 5G review

The solid budget – and so far only – 5G option

Moto Z3
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(Image: © TechRadar)

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Image credit: TechRadar

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The Moto Z3 packs a Snapdragon 835, which was outdated when the phone launched in August 2018 and is even more so today. But the processor still outperforms the midrange Snapdragon 632 chip found in the Moto G7 or the slightly beefier Snapdragon 636 found in the Moto G7 Plus. 

The Moto Z3’s baseline setup (Snapdragon 835, 4GB RAM) achieved a 6,549 score on Geekbench 4, putting it around other phones sporting that chipset (the Galaxy S8 Plus, for example, hit a score of 6,630 in our testing). That’s obviously far below today’s top chips – the Galaxy S10 Plus, for example, hit 11,002 on the same test – but it’s respectable.

And, at long last, the Moto Z3 finally has Android 9 Pie. The update was originally announced in February and then delayed, per The Android Soul; conveniently enough, it was finally rolled out the day Verizon unleashed its 5G network and Motorola started selling the 5G Moto Mod, according to XDA Developers

By ‘convenient’ we mean ‘essential,’ as long as you want to hook up to that 5G network: Pie is required to support the new 5G mod. But the update brings a host of other better-late-than-never upgrades: gesture navigation, a refreshed dashboard, optimized app switching and screentime-managing features like app timers. 

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Image credit: TechRadar (Image credit: TechRadar)

The Mods

Aside from the 5G Moto Mod, Motorola has a plethora of mods on the market – and others that were released for earlier Moto phones that the phonemaker is no longer selling, but which you can still find on eBay, Amazon and elsewhere.

Motorola’s official list of mods has been trimmed down to just over a dozen battery packs, speakers, cameras and oddiments, like a gamepad that wraps around each end of your Moto phone. 

Sure, it’s nice to have a speaker to blast tunes every once in awhile, or perhaps even an Amazon Alexa-sporting speaker ($149) or very nice Hasselblad 10x optical camera ($299). But far and away, the mod you get the most use out of are the battery mods.

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Image credit: TechRadar (Image credit: TechRadar)


Everyone wants more battery, and the mods (like the $49 official Moto Power Pack) grant almost another day’s worth of juice. That’s a no-brainer...but by clamping one to the back of your slim and admirably light Moto Z3, you’re adding weight and nearly doubling the thickness. 

To put it bluntly: these aren’t as slick as the battery pack cases out for most phones. On the plus side, they don’t obstruct the side buttons or expand the length and width of the Z3. And yet, you won’t be able to protect your phone with a case…

You get the gist – there are drawbacks. But at least most of the mods won’t obstruct the camera while you have them clipped on (the Amazon Alexa speaker being a notable exception). 

David Lumb

David is now a mobile reporter at Cnet. Formerly Mobile Editor, US for TechRadar, he covered phones, tablets, and wearables. He still thinks the iPhone 4 is the best-looking smartphone ever made. He's most interested in technology, gaming and culture – and where they overlap and change our lives. His current beat explores how our on-the-go existence is affected by new gadgets, carrier coverage expansions, and corporate strategy shifts.