Photos and Features
When checking out the back of the Moto Z Force my first impression was just how much the back of the phone reminded me of my Nexus 4. The curved sized with a flat back being the main reason. But really though we aren’t looking at a normal part of the phone. Because of the Moto Mods functionality, this is actually part of the phone you will rarely ever see. Clues to this are the rear facing camera that sticks out more than a camera should and the 17 pin array of connections down at the bottom. The back is magnetized so the mods can stick right onto the phone and when you aren’t using one the backplate does the same thing. The rear facing camera is really nice, it is 21 MP and has just the one LED flash. Verizon did slip the Droid branding in here and considering he swappable mods and backplates it is a good call, most of the backplate options won’t have that branding.
The included backplate does, however, have a Motorola logo on it. It is a little thicker than you would expect a backplate to be, especially if you have ever used an older Galaxy phone with their thin plastic backplates. This one has a nice dark wood finish on the back and a hole cutout for the rear-facing camera. On the inside, it came with protective plastic inside that you need to remove before using it. This just has a warning on it to make sure you know to remove the backplate before installing any of the other Moto Mod options or they won’t work. There aren’t any connections on the backplate but it does have a tiny pin in the middle to help center it on the phone in combination with the round camera that fits in the camera hole. Beyond that, it is held on with magnets and it is very hard to pull off.
The camera fits flush with the backplate installed and the wood backplate gives the phone a little style.
The front of the Moto Z has two of the most useful features of the whole phone in my opinion. For starters, the 5.5 inch AMOLED screen has a 1440p resolution giving it a PPI of 535. This has been the go to standard resolution for a while now, any more than this and it requires a lot of power to push it and you don’t see as much of a return. Anyhow, that screen is covered in what they are calling a Shattershield 2.0 glass. Shattershield 2.0 just means it is going to be very hard to crack your screen. In fact, Android Central put it to the test and managed to have the display stop working after multiple drops but had no screen damage. I wouldn’t use it as a reason to toss your phone around, it still isn’t designed to take the shock, but at least the screen won’t break and it seems that is what breaks first for a lot of people.
The front of the Moto Z Force has two microphone holes down at the bottom and below the Moto logo is a square button that is your home button and also has a fingerprint reader built in. Up top, there is a light sensor, the headset speaker, and then the front facing camera. At 5MP they didn’t really go crazy with it, but it is in line with the rest of the market. The bezel around the screen is really thin on the sides with most of the space at the bottom and top where the features I just went over are.
The Moto Z Force is a little thicker than the regular Moto Z due to its increased battery capacity but the phone isn’t overly thick. The entire outer ring is an aluminum frame with a bevel on the bottom half making the phone feel a little thinner in hand. The left side of the phone has nothing at all going on. The top of the phone has a microphone hole, the sim card slot, and a strip where the frame meets. It's only on the right side of the phone that we find any buttons. You have the volume up and down buttons with a smooth finish and then the power/lock button is down below with a rough finish on it to make it easier to find.
Down on the bottom edge of the phone we have the USB Type C data and charging port. Given all the recent drama I should point out that with this being the only plug on the phone there is no headphone jack on the Moto Z Force. They do include a Type C to headphone adapter with the phone, but you won’t be able to charge the phone while listening to music and who wants to bring an adapter along with them. At least it is included, though.
To go with that USB Type C connection Motorola does include a charger cable for the Moto Z. For a lot of Android fans, the Micro-USB connections have become so commonplace that it is going to take a little time to adjust to the new connection. But remember it can be plugged in either way and still work and it seems to be a more solid connector as well that shouldn’t break as easily. The included charger drops the USB to Ac adapter for an all in one charger, this helps them get the turbo charging speeds but it does mean if you want to get data off the Moto Z you will need another cable to hook it up to your PC. The cable is extremely thick and heavy duty and the right angled connection has a small brick and will most likely cause issues covering up ports if you try to hook up in the middle of a power strip.
That 1440p 5.5-inch screen does look good when the phone is powered up. Even under our bright lights, it was very visible, especially with that bright blue background on the Moto screen.
I couldn’t look at the Moto Z Force without at least considering the Moto Mods functionality as well right. Verizon sent along the JBL Soundboost speaker along with the phone and I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I’ve used a few different portable speakers but this one attaches right to the phone. The speaker has an orange flip out kickstand so when you are listening to music you don’t have the phone sitting on its back covering up the speakers. On the inside of the Soundboost, we do get a better look at how the Moto Mods work. Down at the bottom, there is a 16 pin array along with a row of other pins. These connect on the back of the Moto Z and transfer data, in this case, they bring the audio out and also let the phone know how much battery the SoundBoost has. That’s right, the Soundboost has its own built in battery and runs completely independent of the phone's battery. You can charge it while charging the phone or you can pull it off and plug into the USB Type C connection here on the back of the phone. There is also a small rubber button that when pressed will let you know if the Soundboost has enough battery charge.
While the Moto Z, even with the Forces larger battery is still thin. The JBL Soundboost is far from being the same. Even on its own, it is noticeably thicker than the phone itself, but when you combine the two you will be carrying around a brick. This is a lot easier than bringing a phone and a big portable speaker with you all of the time, but take a look at the phones below. If you need a speaker every day, maybe for work or because you play music all of the time on your phone the thickness will most likely be worth it. But I doubt a lot of people will want to carry this around just in case they want to turn up their music. That said, it is only held on to the phone with magnets so you can pop it off at any point and just switch back when you need it.