Motorola continues to make compelling phones in a few different categories
The last year has been one of quiet overhaul for Lenovo-owned Motorola, bringing all of its disparate product lines, from the inexpensive Moto E to the premium Moto Z, into a familiar aesthetic. While the Moto Z2 Play, the newest member of the family, continues the tradition of Mods compatibility, it’s the completely redesigned Moto G and E series that is worth considering if you’re in the market for a budget phone.
And with new phones like the Moto Z2 Force and potentially a new entry into the Moto X lineup, there’s plenty of reasons to be excited about Motorola in 2017 and beyond.
Moto Z2 Play
Released June 2017 Motorola followed up the Moto Z Play pretty quickly, and the Moto Z2 Play is a worthy sequel that tries to bridge the gap between the more affordable Play and the regular “Z” flagship from last year. The phone features a much sleeker design than its predecessor, shaving a full millimeter of thickness, but doing so cuts down on the battery by 15%.
Aside from the improved, all-metal chassis, the Z2 Play sports a much-improved 12MP camera with a wider aperture and Dual Pixel Focus technology, as well as a newer version of the oft-lauded Moto Display feature that we’ve grown to love so much.
Of course, the Z2 Play also supports Moto Mods, and was announced alongside three new add-ons that are also compatible with older versions.
Moto E4 and Moto E4 Plus
Released June 2017 As with the company’s Moto G lineup, the Moto E series has received a big revamp for 2017. Aligning with the visual flair (or lack thereof) of the more expensive Moto Gs, the Moto E4 and E4 Plus are aimed at the budget market while retaining many of the company’s best qualities, including excellent software with worthy additions to Android 7.1.1, along with better-than-their-price cameras and battery capacities. In fact, the Moto E4 Plus has a 5,000mAh battery that should last two full days on a charge.
Moto C and Moto C Plus
Released May 2017 The Moto C and C Plus are entry-level Android phones that Motorola introduced back in May to satiate the need for high-quality, affordable handsets in parts of Europe, Asia and South America.
While they won’t be coming to North America anytime soon, the Moto C and C Plus feature bare-bones specs — MediaTek chips, between 1GB and 2GB of RAM, and the choice of 3G or LTE models depending on the region — for as little as €89. They retain Motorola’s signature look and feel, as well as its excellent Android 7.0-based software, but they’re for people who don’t want to spend a fortune on what is perhaps their first, or backup, smartphone.
Moto G5 and G5 Plus
Released March 2017 The newest version of Motorola’s most popular product line, the Moto G series, features two models of differing size, capability, and price. The Moto G5, which is not officially available in the U.S., cuts costs by sticking with plastic and only a splash of metal, while the G5 Plus goes decidedly mid-range with its Snapdragon 625 chip and up to 4GB of RAM. Both models feature improved cameras and batteries, but the G5 Plus manages to compete with devices twice the price thanks to a large-pixel sensor and a wide-open lens.
The Moto G5 and G5 Plus also reinforce a recognizable design language that began in 2016 with the Moto Z and Z Force. A wider, easier-to-use fingerprint sensor (now on the cheaper model, too), rounded sides and a circular camera module maintain visual continuity with the Moto Z line, and the metal makes both phones feel very good.
Moto Z and Moto Z Force
Released July 2016 Motorola brings its own take on a modular design with the Moto Z and Moto Z Force. The first flagship devices to be launched since Lenovo bought the Motorola brand, the Z family uses detachable backplates called Moto Mods to add more functionality.
While the Moto Z launched as a Droid Edition on Verizon, it has since expanded to be sold unlocked from Motorola directly, compatible with carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile.
Motorola’s take on a modular system looks to be a novel approach. With no disassembly required, your baseline Moto Z can transform into a battery beast or a mini home stereo just by switching the backplate. Though the early examples of Moto Mods are quite successful, the real potential is what hardware entrepreneurs can cook up.
The Moto Z Force continues to be a Verizon exclusive, much to our chagrin, because its ShatterShield technology and 21MP camera are truly impressive, as is its bigger battery.
Moto Z Play
Released September 2016: Like the Moto Z, the Play began its life as a Verizon-exclusive Droid Edition, but expanded to be sold unlocked directly from Motorola.
A little portlier than its Moto Z counterpart, the Play has a massive two-day battery, and cuts down on costs with a slower Snapdragon 625 chip, 3GB of RAM and a lower-resolution 1080p display. The 16MP rear camera also lacks OIS, but otherwise this phone is nearly identical to the Z line, right down to the support for Moto Mods.