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Everything you need to know about Moto Mods

In just a few seconds you can transform Motorola's latest phones into a projector or add an external battery using its unique modular approach.

Juan Garzón / CNET
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Motorola is the second company this year to launch a phone alongside a series of modular accessories. Unlike the LG G5, where you had to physically remove the bottom of the phone with battery attached to swap out modules, Motorola's implementation on the Moto Z leverages magnets to hold the accessory in place on the back of the phone.

Skeptical the modules will stay attached the phone? I was at first, too. But you can set your skepticism aside -- Motorola used some really strong magnets to help the mods stay put.

Moto Mods are surprisingly intuitive and easy to quickly add or remove, and work with either model of the Moto Z. But, of course, there's more to it than that.

Each module has its own battery

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Obviously, either of the external battery Moto Mods are a battery. However, the JBL Speaker and Insta-Share Projector each need charged on their own.

Each one is equipped with at USB-C charging port, so you can charge it with the same cable you use to charge the Moto Z. Alternatively, you can charge the speaker or projector while attached to your Moto Z, but keep in mind the Moto Z's software will top off the phone before it starts charging up a mod.

You can check battery level of Moto Mods a few different ways: Slide down the your notification panel, where a notification with the current status is displayed. Open the quick settings panel, and look at the Moto Mod battery meter next to your phone's battery meter. Finally, with the mod removed you can press the small power button on the mod itself. An indicator light reveals how much of a charge the mod has. A rapidly blinking green light means the battery is full, a steady green is 51-99 percent, steady amber is 16-50 percent and a steady red is 6-15 percent. A rapidly blinking red means it's just about out of power.

There's an app for that

You likely won't have to manually install the Moto Mods app, but it's a good idea to do double-check you have the latest version of Moto Mods Manager installed. For those who bought the projector mod, there's an app for it too. You can find it in the Play Store here.

After installing or updating either app, you won't find an app icon in the app launcher on your phone. Instead, you'll need to visit the Settings app.

Change settings, update software

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Depending on the mod you're using, there are a few settings you can tweak. For example, when using a battery pack you can choose between draining the battery of the mod in an effort to keep the phone fully charged, or using Efficiency mode to keep the phone's battery at 80 percent while getting more life out of the mod.

You can access this setting by tapping on the Moto Mods notification when a mod is connected to your phone, or by opening Settings > Moto Mods.

Accessing the settings menu for the projector mod is done by turning it on, then pressing the power button. You can then change the projectors keystone setting, as well as alter its brightness.

Last but not least is the ability to update the software on a Moto Mod. As of right now, Motorola and its partners are yet to release a software update for available mods. Presumably, it's only a matter of time before there is a software update.

To check for a software update, open Moto Mods settings pane and tap on About this Moto Mod > Software updates.