back to article Motorola Z2 Force: This one's for the butterfingered Android lovers

Released last autumn, and with this year’s range hoving into view, Motorola’s Z2 Force isn’t the newest kid on the block. But it still remains the only “shatterproof” phone on the market, and it has proved to be a great base from which to evaluate the latest Motorola Mods, which you’ll see in our forthcoming Mods roundup. …

  1. Dave 126 Silver badge

    > But it seems odd that a phone sold on its unique quality of a resilient screen needs some extra help like this.

    Ain't physics a rascal, eh? Generally, things that are tough are not hard, and hard things are not tough. You gotta make a choice, I'm afraid. Motorola's engineers are just working with what the universe has handed them.

    I'd recommend looking through forums to see how this phone performs with a toughened glass screen protector - they can sometimes have an adverse effect upon the screen's touch sensitivity. A toughnened glass protector will still likely break at some point if dropped, but cheaper to replace than a scratched phone screen.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      If you can slap on a protector then physics says so can the manufacturer.

    2. Zwuramunga

      Transparent Aluminum

      Where are the unbreakable glass replacements?

      I KNOW we have a form of this already, where are the real world applications?

  2. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Physical keyboard mod

    There's a physical qwerty keyboard Mod about to be released - various journalists had a hands-on test of pre-production samples in January 2018.

  3. Korev Silver badge

    Battery life for an "outdoors" phone

    A phone like this would be ideal for me as I like outdoor sports (MTB, SKI etc); but I need a phone with a good battery so it lasts all day when GPS tracking.

    BTW I've been in a situation where I needed to call an ambulance for a guy with a large hole and the phone was out of juice - not fun...

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Battery life for an "outdoors" phone

      With this Moto Mod phone you can snap a battery pack on the back. Not only does this mean you can carry spare batteries, but also your phone's internal battery isn't subject to as many charge / discharge cycles.

      People should be aware that being in remote places - skiing, hillwalking - with poor signal will deplete their phone battery very quickly unless they they turn off 3G/4G. This can result in them not having enough juice for an emergency call. Using GPS too is an additional power drain.

    2. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

      Re: Battery life for an "outdoors" phone

      Get something like a garmin watch to do your GPS tracking. Keep the phone for phoney things. That way you'll have speed and heading etc on your wrist, so more convenient, as well as preserving phone battery life.

      GPS tracking in my watch lasts 18 hours at high resolution or 55 hours at much reduced resolution... newer ones last even longer and they can have maps/routes shown etc.

      1. Korev Silver badge

        Re: Battery life for an "outdoors" phone

        These days I carry one phone for GPS tracks; the other is reserved for calls. A watch or dedicated device would be much better though.

    3. 404 Silver badge

      Re: Battery life for an "outdoors" phone

      I have the original Moto Z Force (1.5 years old) and I don't think I've ever seen the battery under 30% after two days of operation even now. I totally forgot about the mods it can use lol.

      I'm just really happy it's getting the Oreo 8.0 update soon ;)

      1. onefang Silver badge

        Re: Battery life for an "outdoors" phone

        "I have the original Moto Z Force (1.5 years old) and I don't think I've ever seen the battery under 30% after two days of operation even now. I totally forgot about the mods it can use lol."

        I have the Moto Z, and easily get a couple of days out of it. YMMV obviously.

        "I'm just really happy it's getting the Oreo 8.0 update soon ;)"

        I got Oreo OTA already a week or two ago. Real Soon Now for you I guess.

    4. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Battery life for an "outdoors" phone

      "BTW I've been in a situation where I needed to call an ambulance for a guy with a large hole and the phone was out of juice - not fun…"

      This is why it's a good idea to not use your phone for non-phone things if you might need it for an emergency. There are GPS loggers that aren't very expensive that you can use rather than your phone.

      I still use my iPod and a dedicated SatNav instead of my phone. I need my phone to BE a phone all of the time and I don't want to have the battery go flat when I am talking with a customer. If I lose a job just once, I've more than paid for dedicated devices all around.

  4. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    Fruit

    A haggis in the fruit bowl? Much better!

    1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      Re: Fruit

      @Sorry that handle: "A haggis in the fruit bowl"

      I would struggle to do my five a day I think.

      1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)
        Thumb Up

        Re: Fruit

        I've been eating five haggis a day - wait. Does this not count?

  5. Tigra 07 Silver badge

    Question

    Isn't the JCB phone shatterproof?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Question

      There are loads that are, just need to search for them.

      1. Tigra 07 Silver badge

        Re: Lost

        That's what i thought...But then the first paragraph of the article is:

        "Motorola’s Z2 Force isn’t the newest kid on the block. But it still remains the only “shatterproof” phone on the market"

        1. onefang Silver badge

          Re: Lost

          "Motorola’s Z2 Force isn’t the newest kid on the block. But it still remains the only “shatterproof” phone on the market"

          I tend to find dumbphones are pretty shatter proof, at least the good ones. Dumb phones I have bounced across a table to demonstrate how tough they are, then show my smart phone in it's protective cocoon, and not bounce it across a table.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Having moved from a Nexus5 to a Z-play then the main difference is the loss of the immediate security and version updates from Google (that said, the N5 was gettign to the point where those would stop when I switched) so while there are articles appearing about Android-P now, I'm still waiting for the Oreo update + security updates come in bundles a month or two in arrears. Other than that its a great phone (not shatterproof like the force but, touch wood, that's not been an issue yet) and the larger battery on the Z-play means I'm basically never concerned about battery level assumg I don't foget to put it to charge two nights running!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At £500 it would be a steal

    oh dear, another proof for multiple, parallel universes...

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: At £500 it would be a steal

      List prices aren't always accurate. Many brands are almost always available for substantially less than their list price.

    2. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: At £500 it would be a steal

      Most I've ever paid for a phone is £200.

      Sorry, but these people are living in la-la land.

      I'll happily pay £30 a month for a BUCKET load of data.

      I'll happily pay £200 for a device.

      But not £60 a month for a device with a pittance of allowance on credit, and not £500-1000 for a device on its own.

      Sorry, literally all the "new" phones are out of my price range, mainly because they do a TON of things that I just don't want/need them to do.

      1. ukgnome Silver badge

        @Lee D

        Your maths don't add up.

        £30 quid for data and £8.33 for a phone (over two years)

        That's just £2 shy of what I am paying - iPhone8 with 18GB data.

        Seems to me that you have't shopped around or engaged the correct mode when dealing with the phone drones at your local supplier.

        New phones are well within your price range

  8. Trollslayer Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Moto C Plus

    The idea behind the Z2 is the same reason I bought a Moto C Plus recently after I couldn't get a usable replacement for my S3 Galaxy Mini - I want a phone that does basic phone stuff.

    The 4000mAah battery means less charging which should help extend battery life and it came out in July last year so should be able to buy batteries for a fair while.

  9. Unicornpiss Silver badge

    Glad to see..

    ..that it has an SD card slot. Motorola's 'new' phones at the time not having one was what drove me to Samsung. I also applaud Motorola for mostly sticking with the (already good) stock Android interface instead of the gimmicky overlays and bundled crap that other manufacturers think you want.

    For me, the deal breakers are the high price and lack of water resistance. I simply can't understand why a phone marketed as being rugged doesn't include this. That, and with a drawer full of accessories, my OCD self would probably stand there too long trying to decide which one to take with me.

  10. rmason Silver badge
    Joke

    Can I ask...

    Can I ask the reviewer to liberally splash one with either lager or prosecco please?

    Because if the screen is harder to break *and* it can survive an imbecile drowning it in Peroni, then it'd be perfect for our sales guys.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Can I ask...

      Is a Porter or an IPA OK? Prosecco is for stripping paint with, and lager is for catching snails.

  11. ScottishYorkshireMan

    Yeah yeah yeah, features, yeah, camera yeah. Security UPDATES?????

    1. onefang Silver badge

      "Yeah yeah yeah, features, yeah, camera yeah. Security UPDATES?????"

      My Moto Z, which is an older model, was getting security updates once a month, until the rather lengthy wait for Oreo. It got Oreo this month, I'll see if it returns to monthly updates. Considering it had Marshmellow on it when I bought it, that's three major updates it has had, and several minor ones.

      1. onefang Silver badge

        "My Moto Z, which is an older model, was getting security updates once a month, until the rather lengthy wait for Oreo. It got Oreo this month, I'll see if it returns to monthly updates. Considering it had Marshmellow on it when I bought it, that's three major updates it has had, and several minor ones."

        Two months later, and I got another OTA update for my Moto Z. It's entirely likely this update was out sometime in the last month, I wasn't checking for them. So yeah, Motorola isn't being slack with their Moto Z series updates.

  12. juice Bronze badge

    I tried using mods with the LG G5

    And it wasn't a particularly successful experience.

    Admittedly, the Moto implementation has a significant advantage: you don't have to shut down the phone to swap mods. However, it still has two major issues:

    1) With a mod on, it's too bulky/heavy to put in a pocket

    2) You can't put a case on the phone when it has a mod attached

    Not being able to use a case is the absolute killer for me. I made the mistake of believing the gorilla-glass hype when I bought an S7 Edge - I slapped plastic screen protectors on the front and back, kept it isolated in a trouser side-pocket and figured that'd be enough.

    And it was, for a month or so, until I woke up after a trip to a nightclub, to discover that the back of the phone now resembled a very intricate cobweb. Still no idea how it happened - presumably it banged against a table corner or somesuch during the night.

    I have insurance via my bank, but there's still a £100 excess. As such, I tend to order a case and screen protectors before the phone itself, and it's an automatic no-go for any phone where I'd have to faff with removing the case *or* not be able to use a case at all.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I tried using mods with the LG G5

      While I don't particularly frequent nightclubs, I spend a lot of time on my feet and I have been known to drop the odd phone, although I probably keep them longer than most, and I won't pay huge amounts for them.

      I've been through grey import phones, (irreparable screens) Wileyfox (good screen replacement service but slow)

      can't get a decent, hard case for either.

      Currently I'm on a moto G5 and It's great. Hard Aluminium case with glass screen protector. It has SD too. Really impressed with it.

      I have a cousin with a CAT one who lives on a narrowboat and has been known to drop hers in the canal. Not sure there are many that can survive that.

      1. Tigra 07 Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: I tried using mods with the LG G5

        She dropped her cat in the canal?

        So her pussy got wet?

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: I tried using mods with the LG G5

          That's quite enough of that now Mrs. Slocombe...

      2. juice Bronze badge

        Re: I tried using mods with the LG G5

        > I have a cousin with a CAT one who lives on a narrowboat and has been known to drop hers in the canal. Not sure there are many that can survive that.

        A friend is a sound-engineer/roadie/stage manager, so he spends a lot of time in what can politely be described as a phone-hostile environment - crawling around under stages, clambering around rigging, etc. He's also a rocker and can often be found in physically challenging environments, such as a New Model Army mosh pit ;)

        The last time I saw him, he was showing off his Cat S60 (the one with the built in predator-vision IR camera), by dunking it in his beer, hurling it at the floor/wall/bar and stomping on it with a pair of very large and heavy New Rock boots.

        It survived completely unscathed.

        Admittedly, he's recently posted on Facebook that he needs a new handset, so I'm guessing that he finally managed to find a way to kill it off. Still, if so, it still managed to survive active punishment for a good 18 months or so...

    2. cambsukguy

      Re: I tried using mods with the LG G5

      I am on my 5th Smartphone, about 8 years I guess.

      I have broken one screen, colliding with someone at speed while biking, flipping over, and landing pretty hard on my back.

      The screen didn't smash outright even then, but did fail when knocked later on so I assume it has been compromised.

      I have never used a case (although that particular phone had a wireless charging adapter snapped on.

      I am not an extreme sportsman but I make up for it by being careless, which partly comes from not paying insane amounts for a phone in the first place, although the earlier models came at a reasonably hefty price tag that I tried to be careful at least.

      The phone I have now has two broken/missing corners on the back cover and a crack in that cover from drops and knocks. It is a removable back, for battery change and SIM/SD etc. and it is fairly flimsy.

      The screen, however, it in really good shape, barely discernible marks and no cracks or chips at all. It is getting on for three years old too.

      It is not a 'tough' model. It is not especially tough looking (like the Lumia 920 was, basically a brick). The screen glass is basically edge to edge albeit not curved etc.

      I do wonder why I see so many broken screens and wonder if they are skimping on the Gorilla glass to save weight, thickness or even money.

    3. onefang Silver badge

      Re: I tried using mods with the LG G5

      "1) With a mod on, it's too bulky/heavy to put in a pocket"

      Considering it starts off being very thin, I find it fits in my pocket fine with a mod on, even in the same pocket as my dumb phone.

      "2) You can't put a case on the phone when it has a mod attached"

      Mines been dropped several times. The mod tends to come off and the edge bumpers protect the phone. So far no damage, not even a scratch. Still wont bounce it across a table.

  13. GlasshalfHull

    Support is a worry

    I have a Moto Z and a Moto Z2 Play, not a Z2 Force, so can't comment on that phone, however I do like both of the phones I have, and don't intend changing for a while.

    I got a fabulous deal on the Moto Z with the JBL speaker mod (which is superb). I've now got three styleshells and a wireless charging styleshell, and the recent Motorola battery pack too. All are excellent.

    When the battery started to fail on the Z after just 6 months (really really poor) I sent it to Motorola for repair. It took several such returns for them to fix it, and in the intervening months they'd agreed to replace the Z with the Z2 Play, but in the event sent both the repaired Z and the new Z2 to me. I have done well out of this, but it highlighted that sometimes Motorola will use poor components (batteries in this case), and they'll sometimes struggle to repair when requested. The fact that they left me with a better Z than i had at the outset (according to the Accubattery app its capacity is consistently 200mah higher than spec), and a Z2 Play has been fantastic, but for a while i used a cheap BQ that I bought on a warehouse deal, and it made me realise that the cheap end of the android market has really caught up.

    My experience with Motorola must have made them a financial loss, and I can't see how they can continue for long making and selling phones against the high end brand loyalty of Apple, and the low-end value of the Chinese manufactured EU marketed likes of BQ and Nokia unless they can consistently deliver the kit and the support that keeps customers coming back again and again. They are to be congratulated for trying to do something different, and maybe encouraged to keep it going, however, I wonder whether the cracks are showing in their infrastructure if not on the Z2 Force's screen.

    1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Support is a worry

      I made the mistake of buying a 2015 Moto X Pure. It was fine hardware but the warranty service was so bad that I needed Visa's help reversing fraudulent $700 charges. The phone got one OS update and then it was immediately, while still being the flagship phone, declared unsupported. VoLTE was left broken.

  14. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    And hast thou purchased a screen protector yet? Oh look, a scratch!

    :)

    Anyways, this may become mainstream, other manufacturers will try to copy this idea.

    But I must say, it is a jolly good idea. Deliver a simple phone, with a ton of addons, so you can add a better camera on, or a torch, or an LTE-A module, or whatever you want without hassle or fuss.

    Looks like Motorola got a good thing going there.

    I can imagine what it will be like with a screen enlargement mod and a QWERTY mod... instant mini laptop...

    Speaking of which, I dimly remember seeing some sort of 14" to 17" magnifying doohicky which you can slip over your 14" monitor to make it a 17", anybody remember this?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      yep, basically a fresnel lens, my neighbour has one for her TV as she is virtually blind.

  15. Mike Groombridge

    I have one and am really impressed

    I have just renewed my Vodafone contract and got the Z2 force as part of my renewal with 3 mods. £35 contract for 24 months nothing down on the phone. and so far I'm pretty impressed generally it lasts me from 9 am when I leave for work though to about 7pm the following day of regular use (couple of you tube videos a few games and a lot of browsing/pinterest/twitter use.)

    but heavy use will mean you get less than a day. easy example I used it to listen to Spotify in the gym for about 75 minutes yesterday and it went from 20% to 9%. that being said I found the same with my old iPhone and the s5 I have for work.

    it's wired have the default plastic cover that makes the phone thicker but is just there to protect the contacts for the mods but you get used to it. not used my mods in anger yet as I not had need (have the speaker , battery pack and game pad) but the battery pack basically doubles the width of the phone - default. so it's still pretty thin.

    unfortunately the scratch issue is true and I got one about 2 days after I got the phone when I stupidly dropped my keys into the same gym bag pocket. doesn't show as badly as some reviews say (mines pretty much the length of the phone but only shows when the screens off) but still getting a protector now.

    1. James 51 Silver badge

      Re: I have one and am really impressed

      What are the mods? I looked on the vodafone website and it says you get £227 worth of mods but not what they are.

      1. Mike Groombridge

        Re: I have one and am really impressed

        I thought i said in the first Post it's a JPL speaker (with built in stand) at 3400mha battery pack. and last and definitely least a Gaming pad.

        not used them in anger yet but the speaker can seemingly be charger seprately to save battery phone battery life (atleast i assume that's the reason for the USB C port on the back )

        one point i forget is it has no head phone jack but come with a USB to head phone adaptor which was annoying at first.

        1. James 51 Silver badge

          Re: I have one and am really impressed

          You had but I wasn't sure if they were the ones bundled. Thanks.

  16. Milton Silver badge

    Hoving?

    You may have been trying to say the phone "hove into view" where "hove" is past tense of "heave"—a nautical term, admittedly, but presumably you pay editors for something other than just the contrived "humour" of your headlines ...?

    If you do employ anyone literate, perhaps they will have "roded" to the rescue?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does this suffer...

    ...the same screen issues as the G series?

    They suffered badly with burn in and flickering screens.

    Nice budget phone, but crap build.

  18. Rich 11 Silver badge

    This one's for the butterfingered Android lovers

    Sounds like the 'special' offered at several Japanese brothels. Or so I'm told.

  19. Baldrickk Silver badge

    Mods?

    I can't help feeling that mods are mostly superficial.

    Battery mod? I could just use a usb battery pack, and quickcharge my phone from that. It'll also be compatible with other devices

    Speakers? At home, I'll either use a 3.5" or bluetooth to play on "proper" speakers. While out and about, travel speakers should fill the same role, with multi device compatibility again.

    The keyboard mentioned in a comment above sounds nice, but a small bluetooth keyboard, or one that uses the usb connection is again compatiable with more devices.

    I can't help but feel like they are more of a gimmick than anything else, which is a shame.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mods?

      Thing is, Bluetooth keyboards can be finicky, and if you use USB OTG, you often can't charge it at the same time.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Mods?

        Thing is, Bluetooth keyboards can be finicky, and if you use USB OTG, you often can't charge it at the same time.

        Umm, you can use a OTG with charging port and multiple usb ports to use wired keyboard, charging and other stuff at the same time.

        --------------------------

        For OP, I couldn't really disagree to those points he/she made.

        -Battery Mod is nice to have but it isn't a must. If you really want wireless charging when the device doesn't come with one, you could add a charging pad and hide it inside a phone cover

        -Good phone speaker is also nice to have, but when you compare it to the iphone 5 speaker, the headphone-jack will likely be more meaningful. This is especially when you're an audiophile or someone who likes peak quality audio.

        -Keyboard is ok, but if it supports OTG and standard Bluetooth, then it is a none feature. Wired keyboard with OTG,Bluetooth keyboard with Bluetooth.

        --------------------------

        While those do feel like gimmicks, I do see other features as a selling point,

        -microSD slot. You no longer need to keep transferring those 256GB of music/pictures library around the place anymore.

        -Camera. The picture quality from El Reg speaks for itself.

        -Non-Glass Screen. This keeps customer from getting depressed over their phone meeting concrete.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Mods?

          "Umm, you can use a OTG with charging port and multiple usb ports to use wired keyboard, charging and other stuff at the same time."

          Did you notice the switch? You can EITHER use OTG OR charge. You CANNOT do both at the same time because both rely on the same pins to work. I'm very familiar with these breakouts as, being the owner of several Samsung phones, I have an MHL breakout box. Catch being that it doesn't feed the input current back to the phone. It can't, and the manual stipulates this. It's meant to power USB devices or the HDMI breakout.

          "Battery Mod is nice to have but it isn't a must. If you really want wireless charging when the device doesn't come with one, you could add a charging pad and hide it inside a phone cover"

          I've sworn off wireless charging because they all present issues of heat, which as anyone knows can be murder on a battery.

          "microSD slot. You no longer need to keep transferring those 256GB of music/pictures library around the place anymore."

          Plus if the phone dies, you don't lose the contents as long as you don't encrypt it. I lost a Note 4 recently (internal faults) and was lucky to have backed up the internal contents before it went completely. But because the SD card was unencrypted, it just went to the new device and worked from day one. And it's not like I keep anything sensitive on it, so I wouldn't lose much sleep if it got stolen.

    2. onefang Silver badge

      Re: Mods?

      The specs for the Moto Z mod system are open, there are third party mods. I have the development mod. I'm trying to talk a client into doing something with it. There are also more mods available from Motorola than mentioned in the article.

  20. rickykemp

    Good luck

    Finding the mods on the high street. Frustrating that they are all online only and usually priced stupidly.

  21. Flywheel Silver badge
    FAIL

    Just ask them about the OS updates. Go on I dare you

    They'll tel you all sorts of guff to make you buy the thing, but when the next scary exploit hits the scene it'll suddenly go very very quiet.

    Source: every Moto phone I've ever owned, especially my new G5 which is "Android Version 7.0" with "Android Security Patch Level 1 November 2017".

    And "Your device's software is up to date" - really, so where's my effing Oreo then?

    1. onefang Silver badge

      Re: Just ask them about the OS updates. Go on I dare you

      'And "Your device's software is up to date" - really, so where's my effing Oreo then?'

      Dunno where yours is, mines on my Moto Z. Maybe you dropped it back'o'da'couch? Dog ate it?

  22. rickykemp

    Regarding the moto mods

    I have the official gamepad moto mod and use it with my Z2 play. I am really impressed by it, and usually get a couple of hours a day for a week out of it. Makes the phone a cross between a Ninty Switch and a PsP

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Android 8.0...

    Even though Motorola announced on December about Android 8.0 updates for this device, I can still see that those android screenshots from the article are still Android 7.

    Android 7 drop down menu by default is dark for background and light for icon, Android 8.0 is opposite of that (Android 8.1 flips it again, I think). Also, Android 7 drop down menu setting icon by default is at top of the menu, while Android 8.0 setting icon is at the bottom of the menu.

    Also, Android 7 has the 'Downloads' app, which is changed to 'Files" app in Android 8. So that screenshot is clearly Android 7.

  24. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    Dammit

    This phone looks almost perfect, especially with the battery extender, but for the loss of the 3.5mm jack..

    1. rickykemp

      Re: Dammit

      have a look at the Z2 play. Its the same phone with some lesser specs, with a much smaller price tag. you can find it for around £300 or less and is totally compatible with the same range of mods.

      1. onefang Silver badge

        Re: Dammit

        "have a look at the Z2 play. Its the same phone with some lesser specs, with a much smaller price tag. you can find it for around £300 or less and is totally compatible with the same range of mods."

        The entire Z series is compatible with the Moto Mods.

  25. Bill Fresher

    Could someone please attempt to attempt to explain to me what "attempt to attempt to" means.

  26. Timmy B Silver badge

    I don't get it....

    The article says in several places that the Pixel 2 is expensive and you should get this as a cheaper similar alternative. Then at the end puts up a price that actually makes it more expensive than a Pixel 2.... I'm puzzled..

  27. Ken1964

    Never buy them!

    Biggest piece of crap I've ever seen!!! Motorola will replace them but my 4th one in a little over a year is ridiculously flawed product!

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