The real reason you’ll buy the Moto Z or any of the others in the family is because of the Moto Mods. Now the Z Force may be a nice high-end device and the Z Play may kill the competition in terms of battery life, but if you don’t plan on getting any of the Mods then there are plenty of other devices for you to choose from.
We just recently published our video review on the Moto Z Force, so go watch that to learn more about the phone itself. I wanted to delve more into the Moto Mods and the functionality that they bring to the table rather than the phone itself. The Mods I have are the basic Style Mod, Tumi Battery Pack Mod, and the JBL SoundBoot Speaker Mod. They all physically interact with the phone in the same way, but they have different uses and purposes and I wanted to speak on my experience with them these past few weeks.
The Style Shells are the most basic of the mods, providing a very small level of protection. That’s not why you should buy it though, the purpose of these Mods is to change the look of the phone, but they do flush the camera hump, which is one of the best things about them. They help add some artistic flavor and help with the grip of the phone in itself. While thin, the Style Shells are sturdy and won’t bend under pressure, which is nice. Plus they are the cheapest Mods coming in at $20, so you could pick up a few instead of buying cases.
This is probably the most used mods of mine for my Z Force, I love that it keeps the phone slim but adds just enough dimensions to improve the grip of the device. When no Mods are on the device, Moto Z devices can be a bit awkward to hold, especially the super-thin regular Moto Z. The Style Shell does neglect a notch which makes removal of the Mod easier, which some of the other mods contain, which can sometimes cause issues with removal, but it was something I got over not having on that specific Mod.
Tumi Battery Pack
The Tumi battery pack mod is a 2200mAh mod that not only charges your phone when in use, but also add the ability to wirelessly charge your Moto Z as well. The Tumi doesn’t give your phone a full charge but you’ll be able to appreciate the added battery life benefit. The Mod is also about 60% as thick as the Z Force, so when installed, the phone will still be relatively thin — and still easy to hold. The Mod also has a textured back which helps with the grip of the back of the device.
The battery mod has two modes: Default and Efficiency. Default mode keeps your phone at 100% as long as possible while Efficiency mode keeps your phone at 80% to lengthen the time that the battery pack lasts. I kept the pack on Efficiency mode for whenever I used it.
This is one of the mods that I feel should be part of a package deal with the Z family (especially the standard Z). I found it highly necessary to use on any trip or long day that I had planned. Even when the battery ran out, I kept the mod on just for the improved grip. Plus, the ability to charge the pack while it’s on the phone (wireless or wired) made sure that the mod was always full.
Two things to note about the battery pack are that it does include the notch for easy removal, but can only be recharged wirelessly if not attached to the phone. For $90 this is a much more expensive mod that than the style shell, but it’s more necessary for most people out there not attached or trying to keep away from power outlets.
JBL Soundboost Mod
JBL’s Soundboost mods for the Z family is currently my favorite mod for my Z force. The Soundboost is large though and probably not one that you’d have connected to your phone when doing a lot of everyday travel. It’s the same size as the Force with the Tumi Battery mod connected. All that size contains the mod’s dual 3w speakers, the battery to keep the mod powered, and the kickstand so you can angle the audio and your phone a little.
All the mod is very deep it doesn’t affect your camera at all due ti the shape of the camera cutout. It does affect the sound output of the Moto Z though, in a most positive way. Without the mod, the Z Force has a great sounding (mono) front facing speaker. It’s loud for a phone and very crisp, but put on the Soundboost mod and you can easily fill a large room. If you’re having a small get-together with a few close friends, the Soundboost will be able to drive entertainment for everyone.
As far as the quality of sound you get with using the Soundboost mod, expect to hear a more warmer and fuller sound, with an easily noticeable impact on the low end. Now this won’t replace a couple of desktop monitors or your multi-thousand dollar Sonos setup but it’s great for a mobile sound — especially seeing as you won’t necessarily have to carry around a separate Bluetooth speaker all day.
A couple of things to note is that the JBL Speaker has a battery, quoted at about 10 hours of playback time but I’ve NEVER gotten closer to using it all up. Also even though it has a kickstand, I often just laid my phone face down for the greatest amount of sound, especially since the kickstand has the speaker angled down. If there were one thing I wish JBL could’ve done would be to allow the use of the Soundboost as a Bluetooth speaker when not connected, but that somewhat defeats the purpose of Moto Mods.
The JBL Soundboost comes in at $79.99 just like most of the other mods, and I’d consider it one of the more must buys if you constantly listen to music through the speakers of your phone — and not just music either, movies, YouTube, or any other audible media.
Moto Insta-Share Projector Mod
If you’re looking for something to add to your impromptu home theater, you might want to also check out the Moto Insta-Share Projector mod. It’s exactly what it sounds like and doesn’t disappoint. It snaps right on to the back of your Moto Z and once powered up, will project whatever is on the phone. It charges over USB Type-C and takes a little bit of time to charge, but once it does, it’ll last you a good couple of hours. It adjusts itself perfectly square on the wall or object you project it to and projects colors accurately. Overall, it’s a great mod and a lot of fun to use. Unfortunately, it comes at a cost. At $299 it’s not necessarily for everyone, but it is solid for sure.
HasselBlad True Zoom Camera Mod
The last currently available Moto Mod is from HasselBlad. This Mod attaches just like any other, but covers over the built-in camera and replaces it with another one. The 12MP camera found on the True Zoom is more or less equivalent to the sensor on Moto Z models. However, that’s not the important part.
The True Zoom mod adds 10x optical zoom to the device. We’ll cover the differences between optical zoom and digital zoom at a later date, but what you basically need to know is that optical zoom is far better. This allows you to zoom in on a subject without losing any quality on the image, a big plus for anyone who enjoys photography. At $299 it’s a tad pricey, but if you want to up your photography game, it might just be worthwhile.
Overall the Moto Mods are probably one of the main reasons you’d buy a Z device, which kinda hurts seeing how expensive the Z Force is in its own right. I’d definitely consider choosing two mods: a style shell for general feel in hand and another mod that corresponds with your daily lifestyle. Audiophiles get the JBL Soundboost; travelers get the Tumi Battery Pack, photographers get the Hasselblad mod, etc.