Moto Z review

The world's thinnest smartphone is also the best modular phone

Moto Z review
Moto Z review

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Moto Z isn't the only smartphone you should consider buying in 2016. It's not even the only modular Android phone to launch this year.

Several of our best phone and best Android phone picks are direct rivals of this Lenovo and Motorola creation, all with different standout features. Let's see if any of them are better fits for you.

Moto Z vs LG G5


The LG G5 is the "other modular smartphone" this year, and it fully deserves that designation because it doesn't have enough accessories available and none of them are hot swappable. You have to turn the phone off, cumbersomely disassemble the bottom chin and slide in the new mod. It takes patience and there are no magnets here.

Why is the LG G5 still a good choice? It has a dual rear camera system that we really like and can't get anywhere else. One camera takes 16MP photos, while another ultra-wide camera can snap 8MP photos. All of a sudden, you're not going to have to back up to get that perfect shot of your friend and the huge monument in the background. We liked the LG V10 dual selfie camera for the same reason. The G5 isn't as thin as the Moto Z, but it does have the same internal specs and it does come with a headphone jack.

Moto Z vs Samsung

Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge

It's hard to argue that the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge are the best phones in 2016. Both have the best cameras, best-looking displays and best specs performance (outside of the US where they uses Samsung's own chipset). That's a lot of bests.

The S7 Edge is also the most stylish phone on the list thanks to its curved display, so it's able to compete with the slimmer Moto Z in terms of design. It doesn't run the near-stock Android interface that Motorola has here, but Samsung's Experience interface is cleaned up enough now. Both the S7 and S7 Edge are more expensive, but worth it if you're looking for the best phone that money can buy.

Moto Z vs Nexus 6P

Nexus 6P

Outside of modular accessories, you'll find a lot of the Moto Z features in the Nexus 6P, and it's delivered by Google and Huawei at a significantly cheaper price: starting at $499 (£449, AU$899) for 32GB. There's an enviable aluminum design, straightforward stock Android interface, reliable fingerprint sensor (on the back in this case), and solid camera that claims to be great in low light situations, but still can't compare to Samsung's cameras.

It's thin at 7.3mm, but not recording breaking like the Moto Z "thickness" of 5.19mm and it uses the slightly older Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 v2.1 processor with 3GB of RAM. If you're really concerned about price, there's less reason to even want to upgrade your phone with modular accessories like the expensive pico projector, so the Nexus 6P makes a great alternative to phone buyers on a budget. The Nexus 5X is even cheaper, but is even more of a performer compromise.

Moto Z vs iPhone 6S

iPhone 6S

Apple's iPhone 6S is anything but modular, with a design that doesn't even allow for storage upgrades and software that's long been considered a walled garden. iOS 10 is changing that to a degree, but it's still very much a closed ecosystem. That said, we dig a lot of iPhone-exclusive features, like iMessages, FaceTime and a few other apps that you won't find in the Google Play Store.

There's, of course, one caveat: it's not a good time to buy a new iPhone. Apple is rumored to be launching the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus in September, meaning you might want to wait to see its new features. It won't be modular, according to the latest reports, but it's likely to include a better camera. Apple's current 12MP camera is currently on par with the Moto Z, according to our tests, and still lagging behind the better post-processing of Samsung's cameras.

Moto Z vs iPhone 6S

ZTE Axon 7

We're currently testing out the ZTE Axon 7, but really like its features for the price. It comes with a generous 64GB of internal storage and all of the same specs as the Moto Z otherwise, yet the phone costs $399 (about £300, AU$525). That's pretty amazing. The gold-colored phone is stylish (though slippery) and packs in a pair of front-facing dual speakers. The front of the phone is devoid of needless logos. It's just speakers and the front-facing camera.

You won't find this phone in carrier stores, however. Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile aren't selling the phone on contract. Instead, it's being sold through retailers like Amazon and is only available off-contract. That means paying full price upfront. You also have to get used to the very-not-stock Android software. Installing a launcher an easy workaround for that. That's a small price to pay for paying a small price.

Matt Swider