Motorola Moto Z2 Force Price starts at Rs. 34,999.
A span of six months might not sound much, but ask any OnePlus 5 owner and you’ll realise that it’s enough time for a smartphone to become obsolete these days. That also brings us to the closest thing Motorola has come up with in 2018 that can be classified as a flagship phone – the Moto Z2 Force. Did I say 2018? Please excuse me, because the Moto Z2 Force had originally launched in the USA roughly six months ago in August 2017.
Therein lies a major problem. It’s considered suicide for even a mid-range phone to ship without a bezel-less display these days. That is also why OnePlus had to discontinue the OnePlus 5 and hastily launch the 18:9 aspect ratio OnePlus 5T, as soon as it had got the logistics of the new form factor worked out. Even as I hold the Moto Z2 Force alongside the OnePlus 5T, it’s painfully apparent that Motorola’s flagship phone is just as tall and wide as its OnePlus counterpart, albeit with a significantly smaller display.
The Moto Z2 Force, however, has a few tricks up its sleeve to even out the odds. The USP of the phone being its shatter-proof display and a range of snap-on Mods that add cool new features. But will that be enough to make the smartphone relevant in 2018? That’s exactly what we’re going to investigate in the course of this review.
Design and Build Quality
The Motorola Moto Z2 Force is pretty thin at just 6.1mm. However, that comes at a major compromise to battery capacity, which is quite meagre at 2730mAh. Fortunately, Motorola India had the foresight to include the top end battery Mod dubbed as the turbopower pack, which snaps onto the phone to add another 3490mAh capacity of its own. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the phone has a total battery capacity of 6220mAh. It’s a lot more complicated, so it’s best left for later. From the design perspective, the battery Mod adds another 6.58mm to the phone’s profile making it seem pretty thick and unwieldy, but somehow still nice to hold due to the nice curved and rubberised finish.
The Moto Z2 Force might look slim and delicate, but its 7000 series aluminium chassis is anything but just that. Instead of using a reinforced aluminium frame, Motorola has overbuilt this phone with a rigid aluminium chassis that won’t be failing any bend tests anytime soon. And whatever little impact gets transferred to the display has little effect because the whole P-OLED shebang is designed to flex instead of shatter when it hits the ground. That’s basically how the phone earns its shatterproof credentials. Based on my tests, the screen didn’t shatter despite being dropped several times.
However, toughness and hardness are mutually exclusive traits and not surprisingly, the relatively more flexible plastic substrate protecting the flexible display itself is prone to scratches. While Motorola had user replaceable Shattershield lenses with the original Moto Z Force, the Z2 Force doesn’t have that insurance. That means, you have to invest in a screen protector or send your phone back to the service centre to get the scratched screen replaced. I’d imagine that would be an expensive affair. In effect, while Motorola may have successfully eliminated the need for protective phone case, but you still need a screen protector to save the display from being scratched. And while we are delving into the disappointments, the Z2 Force also lacks proper waterproofing and instead comes with splash protection, so don’t even think about going swimming with this phone.
Apart from that downer, the phone looks pretty good with its brushed aluminium back, with a rather pronounced camera bump and the conductive leads for the snap-on Moto Mods. The front has a wide fingerprint sensor and a prominent LED flash for perfect low-light selfies. The power and volume buttons huddled up on one edge have a positively clicky tactile feel to them, but they’re far too closely spaced to allow ergonomic usage. Operating the volume buttons in the landscape mode and executing the screenshot combo is far too challenging than it should be. At the top edge lies the SIM tray that accepts dual nano SIMs and the bottom one houses a lone USB type-C charging port, with the headphone jack being conspicuous by its absence.
Display and Camera
Despite its dated design and 16:9 aspect ratio, the P-OLED display is pretty damn good. The Quad HD screen looks incredibly sharp and renders nice saturated colours with good balance. Both gaming and movies are a treat to view on the 5.2-inch display, which might not have HDR, but it still delivers some great contrast and black detail. The viewing angles are great, and unlike the LG OLEDs found on the Pixel and the V30, the Moto Z2 Force’s display leaves no room for complaints.
The camera, however, is neither impressive nor does it have any serious flaws. The new dual camera module houses two 12-megapixel cameras with identical f/2.0 aperture, with the notable exclusion of optical zoom. One of the modules houses a true black-and-white sensor, which supplies additional depth information for depth-of-field/bokeh effects as well as delivering true monochrome snaps for photography purists. Also missing is optical image stabilisation, but I can’t complain since photos come out sharp in both daylight or low-light conditions.
Speaking of the latter, the 1.25-micron pixel size also helps low-light photography, which was surprisingly good. The Moto Z2 Force is surprisingly slow and inaccurate at focusing despite the double whammy of PDAF and laser autofocus. But on the bright side, the camera is capable of 4K video recording and the results are pretty good. The camera interface is minimal and uncluttered, with the pro mode proving quite handy to fine tune the hard-to-get shots. The 5-megapixel front camera is equipped with an LED flash, but I wasn’t impressed by the results.
Performance and Software
The Motorola Moto Z2 Force ticks the boxes for flagship hardware specifications and that includes the Snapdragon 835 chipset, which is all fine and dandy for 2017, but it’s going to look pretty outdated when the Snapdragon 845-toting flagships begin rolling out in the next couple of months. For what it’s worth, the phone packs in 6GB RAM and 64GB storage, and the phone performs as expected in the synthetic benchmarks, with a single-core score of 1935 points and multi-core one of 6808 in Geekbench 4, followed by an impressive score of 2,07,436 points in the AnTuTu benchmark.
However, these numbers can’t do justice to the degree by which Motorola has optimised the device. All games and apps run butter smooth, even the demanding (read unoptimized) ones such as Facebook and Instagram. There was absolutely zero lag or stutter evident anywhere in the UI or the apps, which is remarkable since the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ do exhibit some of that despite packing in similar hardware.
The real star of the show is the deep customisation and UI features put into the phone’s Android Oreo underpinnings by Motorola. This includes the integration of infrared motion sensors placed all around the phone’s face with the Active Display feature that shows important notifications just by the virtue of waving your hand on the phone. This time around, though, you can interact with some notifications and even going as far as replying to chats without unlocking the phone and powering on the display. Strangely, my review unit had a bug that prevented me from accessing the Smart Lock menu altogether.
Then there are gestures that intuitively switch on the torch, camera, and put the phone into Do Not Disturb mode – all of which make life quite convenient. For more Oreo specific software features, check out our review of the Moto X4 6GB version which packs in the same features.
The Motorola Moto Z2 Force’s 2730mAh battery might sound like a liability, but the phone has been optimised so well that I managed to get 6 hours of screen-on time and the phone easily lasted the entire day. Mind you, this was despite keeping all radios switched on, two email accounts running, plenty of GPS and 4G browsing, social media, and messaging. Even in the worst case, the screen-on time dropped down to four and a half hours with some gaming thrown in for good measure. I’m frankly astonished to say that you can last through your average day on the stock battery itself.
I say stock, because the phone will be bundled with the turbopower battery Mod, which packs in a 3490mAh battery pack that can be snapped right onto the phone. Make no mistake, the mod doesn’t act as an extra battery that your phone can tap into, but it rather charges the inbuilt battery in two distinct ways. You can either put it in the quick charge mode, where it juices the phone at an impressive 15 watt and charges it from 0 to 85 percent in about 90 minutes. That effectively gives you two whole days of usage along with a screen-on times ranging between 10-11 hours.
The other mode has the battery Mod trickle charging the phone to maintain the battery level at 80 percent. This is supposed to deliver better endurance, but I wasn’t independently able to verify that claim because the battery diagnostic tool on the phone went haywire and stopped recording screen-on time readings. Nevertheless, the Moto Z2 Force delivers two days of usage and more than 10 hours of screen-on time either way. Whether you wish to carry your phone around the bulky battery Mod attached to your phone at all times, or just use it to charge your device in 90 minutes, you’re guaranteed some terrific battery life either way. What’s more, the supplied charger too is good enough to provide 60 percent recharge in half an hour and complete recharge the battery in little more than an hour.
At a price of ₹34,999, the Motorola Z2 Force is hard to recommend over the reigning champion of this segment. While I agree that the phone is optimised to the hilt, but so is the OnePlus 5T, which has a leg up on the Moto Z2 Force due to its wider aspect ratio display and bezel-less design. Although the Z2 Force is shatterproof, the fact that the display can be scratched relatively easily is a major concern. The phone also features some interesting Mods, but having used none of those save for the bundled battery Mod, I’m not sure if that’s enough to wean buyers away from the OnePlus 5T, which practically does everything a little bit better than the Moto Z2 Force.
There’s nothing wrong in relaunching a six-month old device per se, but that logic just can’t be applied in this cutthroat segment, where the consumers not only want the best performance and features, but they also expect their expensive phones to look the part. The dated design of the Z2 Force, I believe, is too strong of a mis-step for it to be relevant in 2018. And that’s a shame because otherwise, the Moto Z2 Force is a pretty competent phone.
|Camera||Dual 12 M.Pixels|
|Size (in inches)||5.5|
|Pixel Density||534 pixels per inch (ppi)|
|Color Reproduction||16M Colors|
|Screen to body percentage||70.4 %|
|Design and Build|
|Operating System||Android OS, v7.1 (Nougat)|
|Primary||Dual 12 M.Pixels|
|Video||[email protected], [email protected]/60/120fps|
|Bluetooth||v4.2 with A2DP|
|Wi-Fi||Yes with dual-band, WiFi Direct, hotspot|
|SIM Configuration||Dual SIM (Nano SIM)|
|No of Cores||8 (Octa Core)|
|Frequency||2.3 GHz (Quad Core) + 1.9 GHz (Quad Core)|