Motorola's next big mod is a snap-on GamePad

The Moto GamePad brings full game controls to the Moto Z with one magnetic snap.

Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
Expertise VR and AR | Gaming | Metaverse technologies | Wearable tech | Tablets Credentials
  • Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
Scott Stein
2 min read

A Moto Z phone tucked inside. It's a bit Nintendo Switch-like to hold in-hand.


Moto might have just made the best game controller for Android... but it's only for the Moto Z.

Motorola's designed its line of Z phones to be transformed by snap-on mods. It's a plan that's produced a few exciting ideas, but not many practical ones.

The Moto GamePad, coming this summer for $80 (roughly £60 or $AU110), looks like a no-brainer -- not to mention a clever use of the easy-on, easy-off nature the magnetic mod system. It works with the new Moto Z2 Play, as well as last year's Moto Z, Z Force and Z Play phones.


The GamePad without a Moto Z inside.


It's a multi-button, two-analog-stick gamepad, matching the standard layout you'd find on a Bluetooth Android or iOS controller. It has a passing resemblance to other phone-case-meet-game-controller accessories, including the GameVice.

The advantage here, of course, is it snaps right in and doesn't have to be plugged into any ports. But you still need to recharge it: It lasts for 8 hours of gameplay and uses USB-C for charging.

However, you don't really need a Mod system to do something like this. A battery-powered controller case could also pair via Bluetooth (and many do) and still work about the same. Moto's direct input might mean a little less lag, but I'm not sure that's a huge deal for mobile gamers.


The backside. That Y glows all the time.


On the back of the GamePad, there's a glowing red "Y" logo. That's a reference to Lenovo's Legion gaming line. You'll find a similar design on parent company Lenovo's gaming laptops.

The GamePad felt OK when I tried it for a few moments with a pre-production model at a Motorola briefing a week ago. It also supports existing Android games that already work with game controllers.

But its real appeal could come from the widespread emulator landscape, which also has... well, quite a few retro games to explore.

  • 8 hours of battery life
  • Dual analog sticks
  • Four action buttons: A, B, X and Y
  • Directional pad
  • Four shoulder buttons
  • L3D and R3D plus home, select and start buttons
  • 1035-mAh battery
  • 140 grams
  • USB-C
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • 226x75.9x 24.4 mm