The Android phone will take on the Galaxy S9 and Pixel 2.
Motorola on Thursday announced the Moto Z3, at a small press event at its headquarters in Chicago. This is the latest Motorola phone to have magnetic backings that attach to Moto Mods, or modules, and will be one of the first phones ever to dial in to 5G.
Starting in early 2019, Motorola will release a 5G Moto Mod that will tap into Verizon's 5G network, once the first of the carrier's 5G networks flickers to life. 5G is so crucial because it's the next generation of fast data that will make phones upload and download an order of magnitude faster than the fastest 4G LTE networks today. We're talking about downloading 90 Spotify songs in 10 seconds, at up to 5 gigabits per second.
Like the original Moto Z Force and Moto Z2 Force before it, the Moto Z3 here will make its carrier home exclusively on Verizon in the US, at least at first. Speaking of which, don't expect a new Force until 2019 at the earliest.
The Moto Z3 will cost $480 and launch on Aug. 16. That breaks down to $20 per month on a finance plan. US buyers who switch to Verizon can get a $300 trade-in credit toward the price of the Moto Z3.
While 5G is the phone's big story today, it's the magnetic Mods that give the Moto Z phones like the Z3 and long-lived Moto Z3 Play their character.
Mods include backings that help you customize the phone's look and feel and battery pack add-ons that can double the phone's battery life before needing a charge.
While Mods were once Motorola's golden ticket to stepping out from the Android crowd back when the first Moto Z phone debuted in 2016, the promise of its Mods has significantly dried up.
The bustling modular ecosystem that Motorola first envisioned has failed to arrive, despite some interesting contributions from Polaroid (a projector mod), Hasselblad (a photo mod) and a gaming Mod that reminded us of the Nintendo Switch .
Motorola and its parent company, Lenovo , aren't fully to blame. Motorola bet big on buyers' interest in customizing their phones with add-on parts to boost speaker, gaming and photo capabilities, but modular phones never caught on. The mighty Google was forced to abandon its own take on modules, Project Ara , and the Essential Phone , which was spun up by "the father of Android", Andy Rubin, has now been scrapped after seeing only one compatible module.
Although the promise of customization may not be the Z3's biggest draw for every potential buyer, Motorola still scores points with CNET reviewers for solid phone hardware and clever software that's better in some ways than Google's own take on Android.
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Moto Z3 Play review: The free battery pack doubles its battery life.