Moto Z2 Force First Impressions: Arrives late to the flagship party, but with a force!

By Subhrojit Mallick | Published on Feb 15 2018
Moto Z2 Force First Impressions: Arrives late to the flagship party, but with a force!
HIGHLIGHTS

The Moto Z2 Force is a tad too late to the party, but it's modular, dynamic nature might ensure the phone to have a longer shelf life.

Lenovo has launched the Moto Z2 Force in India, six months after launching it in the US. While most phones become outdated in less than six months (ahem, OnePlus), Lenovo’s Moto Z phones are especially built to outlast its rivals. Thanks to the support for snap-on accessories, the Moto Z phones are forever evolving and it’s this very dynamic nature that sort of justifies the launch of an old phone in India.

First things first, the Moto Z2 Force is a flagship phone in every way. It’s one of the slimmest phones out there right now, slimmer than even its previous Moto Z Force, which has been achieved by compromising with a smaller battery (which was again compensated with a free Moto TurboMod, that when clipped on, to make the Z2 Force the thickest smartphone in the world).

At Rs 34,999, the Moto Z2 Force takes on the 6GB OnePlus 5T as well as the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2. And that makes the high-end flagship smartphone segment the most diverse, and very interesting. For the same price, you can either go for the super-fast OnePlus 5T (review) if speed is what you crave. Or, you can buy the very premium-looking Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 (review) with a ceramic body and truly bezel-less display. And now, there’s the Moto Z2 Force, which is the most durable among the three, and sports a 2K display that’s ‘shatter-proof’ (although not bezel-less).

That’s a lot of choice for the consumer, which is always a good thing. While we know everything about the OnePlus 5T and the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2, the Moto Z2 Force is what we’re looking at today. The flagship offering from Moto comes with the ‘Force’ tag which should automatically register in your head as ‘durable’. And durable it is.

Display: Shatterproof, not scratch proof

The center of attraction of the phone is the display. Where most displays will crack and shatter from falling from a distance, you will have a hard time putting a crack on this one. The moment we received the phone, we couldn’t help but drop the phone every now and then, confident, that the screen won’t break. It did scratch a lot though. The technique Moto has used to make the display shatterproof essentially involves multiple layers of glass protection. The P-OLED panel is placed beneath two extra layers that renders better shock absorption and protection from drops, but doesn’t offer much protection from scratches. It’s an agreeable trade-off, in my opinion, as a scratched display looks any day better than a cracked one.

Moto seems to have improved the application of the technology as the display now looks better than what it did on the Moto Z Force, which was criticised for compromising the display quality for durability. That doesn’t seem to be the case here in the Moto Z2 Force. The screen looks quite crisp and vivid. The 2K resolution does justice to the 5.5-inch by packing in over 534 pixels per inch.

Design: Sleek and light

At just 6.1mm thickness, the Moto Z2 Force is one of the slimmest phones available in the market. It did remind me of the Moto Razr that was one of the hottest phones to buy once upon a time, mostly for its sleek design. The phone is built on 7000 series aluminium that makes it feel almost weightless. It weighs just 143 grams. The light weight reduces the force with which the phone hits the ground, which also adds to the durability.

Despite all the hullabaloo about being shatterproof, the Moto Z2 Force isn’t indestructible though. A bad drop will not crack the screen but will chip away the paint and make dents on the body, which isn’t a good sight to look at. To be honest, that would be the same for any flagship phone. When you are shelling out upwards of Rs 30k, you would expect the phone to survive one scary drop or two, and Moto Z2 Force’s design and display will ensure it won’t give you a heart attack every time you drop it.

There is also the curious case of the camera bump at the back. The body is simply too sleek to accommodate the dual-camera module at the back and the camera just juts out of the body in a big rounded shape. The same bump was there last year as well and it has become Moto’s signature design of sorts. You either love it or hate it. I’m somewhere in between.

Moto is also stuck with using the same design at the back to continue support for the older Moto Mods. The 16-pin gold connector is present at the bottom part of the back, same as last time. It’s not necessarily a bad thing as it enables backward compatibility with all the previous mods that released last year including a speaker, projector, power bank, and even a gamepad.

Camera: HDR is the star of the show

The Moto Z2 Force features twin 12-megapixel sensors with f/2.0 aperture and 1.25um pixel size, alongside phase-detection autofocus, laser autofocus, and dual-tone LED flash. For the limited time we tested the phone, it looks promising. The secondary camera is used for depth sensing and to generate bokeh effects on a photo.

The camera also has some smart features like landmark and object recognition which works as advertised. The object recognition feature can tell you what object is in the frame and redirects you to links of e-commerce websites. It’s not quite as accurate, but does the job. The landmark recognition, on the other hand, works only on landmarks stored in Moto’s database. Unfortunately, we did not have a landmark nearby that the phone could recognise.


Shot with HDR on

Based on our initial testing, the camera app performs especially well under ample sunlight. The blues look very soothing and sunset shots come out real nice because of good dynamic range. The HDR mode is the star of the show and can transform a bland frame into a vibrant one.


Notice the glare from the lamp

The camera, however, is not perfect. There is an odd glare from light sources on indoor shots and a minimal lag in shooting the photo. Also indoor shots tend to be a little too dark sometimes. All in all, under ample lighting, you will get very well composed shots, but as the lights become lesser, the quality starts going down.


Low light shots are somewhat aesthetic but isn't as good as the competition

Low light too isn’t all that great. The larger pixels in the sensor as well as the extra lens doesn’t make much of a difference. Based on initial impressions, the OnePlus 5T seems to have a better low-light camera than the Moto Z2 Force.

Performance and Software: Flagship-grade performance, clean interface

Design and durability aside, the Moto Z2 Force is the usual flagship phone from the inside. It is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset coupled with 6GB RAM and 64GB storage. The performance of the phone is quite high, right up there with the rest of last year’s flagship phones, which is expected. Benchmark tests will tell you it’s slightly less powerful than the OnePlus 5T, but edges past the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 easily.

In the real world, the phone is quite reliable. Moto’s penchant of relying on stock Android can be felt when you use the phone. It’s fast and smooth and you even get the latest Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box. You also get the usual Moto Actions along with the “Show Me” voice commands that let you use the phone hands-free even when its locked. We’re not sure whether the phone has the four-mic array like the Moto X4 for far-field communications.

Battery: Lasts long, really long

In order to make the phone sleeker, Moto went for a smaller battery as compared to the previous Moto Z Force. But that doesn’t mean it’s not long lasting. The 2,730mAh battery lasted for over 10 hours during the PCMark Work 2.0 Benchmark test which is quite commendable. In comparison, the OnePlus 5T lasted 5 hours in the same test. That speaks a lot about the sort of optimisaton Moto has done to the software. The battery test results seems inconsistent with other phones with similar battery capacity, so we’re not sure about the test results and have to run the test a few more times.

In real life, the battery test results should mean the phone will last the day, and some more. Stressing the phone more will perhaps drain the battery quicker. That’s why Moto is bundling the Moto TurboPower mod along with the Moto Z2 Force for free. The TurboPower mod brings 3,490mAh more capacity and the charge is transferred over to the phone through a 15W charger. The mod can charge the phone one and half times, that too at fast speeds.

Bottomline

Early on, the Moto Z2 Force looks promising, despite arriving late to the party. The phone has most of the bells and whistles of a modern-day flagship phone and then some. It’s modular capability sets it apart from the competition and turns it into a unique proposition. But it’s not for everyone. The Moto Mods themselves are quite expensive and a buyer will likely have to spend Rs 10k-20k more to enjoy the full ecosystem of mods. Nevertheless, the Moto Z2 Force is a welcome offering in that segment and it only makes things more interesting. It remains to be seen how it fares up against the dominant OnePlus 5T after intensive testing. Stay tuned for our review!

Videos

Moto Z2 Force Unboxing & Drop Test | Digit.in
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Subhrojit Mallick

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