Moto Z Review Rewind ⏪

Released in 2016 the Moto Z and its Moto Mods were primed to change the way we use our smartphones. 5 years later, 4 Moto Z versions and no Moto Z5 on the horizon the dream is dead.⁠

But, how has the original Moto Z held up since 2016 and is it still usable in 2021? ⁠

In 2016 Motorola released the Moto Z. This was the phone that was intended to change the way we think of and use our phones. What made the Moto Z special was not so much the phone itself, as it was fairly standard spec-wise when compared to other flagships at the time. It was a small patch around the back of the phone that contained pogo-style pins which allowed users to connect a variety of peripherals to the phone known as Moto Mods that was supposed to make the Moto Z stand out from the rest. While you could argue that the Moto Z did stand out, it was not in the way Motorola, freshly acquired from Google by Lenovo, would have hoped. 


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I recently had been listening to a few Android related podcasts talking about how manufacturers, the media, and tech reviewers (at least the top ones) discard an earlier generation smartphone as incapable of doing the job for users day-to-day. The podcast challenged that, and its hosts/guests discussed how many phones that are 2-3 years old can do just as much as the current generation. I decided to take that and run with it. I pulled my 2016 Moto Z out of the box, charged it up and committed to using it for a month. Let us find out how it went! 



Specs 

As I mentioned, the Moto Z specs were within the ballpark of other smartphones released around the same time. Powered by a Snapdragon 820 processor the Moto Z had a 5.5” AMOLED display, 32 or 64 GB of onboard storage which could be expanded via a microSD card, 4GB of RAM, a 13 MP rear facing camera and a 5 MP front facing camera. Also on board were a front facing fingerprint scanner and a tiny 2,600 mAh battery. It is worth noting that this was also one of the first Android phones to, at least temporarily, remove the headphone jack and provide a proprietary USB C to 3.5mm headphone adapter. The Moto Z launched with Android 6.0 Marshmallow and in true Motorola fashion slowly made its way up to Android 8.0 Oreo. This was back when Motorola committed to 2 Android version updates verses the single version update on its current phones. 


Moto Z Spec Sheet

Experience 

Using the 2016 Moto Z for the first few days had me thinking this was going to be a breeze and that there was no reason a phone of this age couldn’t be used as a daily driver. However, by day three, the battery life of the Moto Z was so poor I was not even making it to noon before needing to charge the device.  

This is where the point or the goal of Moto Mods started to show. One of many Moto Mods were various battery mods. I was fortunate enough to have the Motorola branded battery mod available which doubled my battery to nearly 5,000 mAh. Battery problem solved! 

The Moto Z is stuck at Android 8.0 Oreo which means that it is no longer able to receive security updates and features found in newer versions of Android will never be seen. In my month of use with the Moto Z I did not find I was missing any features that my Pixel or newer devices have. I missed having the option for gesture navigation, but the three-button method that Android used for years was completely adequate. 


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The screen size of 5.5” was good for 2016, but by today’s standards it was a bit of a challenge to enjoy content designed with larger and taller screens in mind. I also couldn’t stop staring at the mammoth-sized bezels found on the original Moto Z. The device has a 72% screen-to-body ratio. Today’s phones are pushing well into the 90% range. Even the final Moto Z, the Moto Z4 had an 84% screen-to-body ratio, while maintaining the exact overall footprint of the original Moto Z. 

The camera on the Moto Z, by any standard, is just not good. In 2016 when I first started using the device it could do ok in outdoor conditions, and in perfect indoor conditions the images were passable. However, anything with any movement or low-light and the camera started to fall apart. Today, it is much of the same. Using it next to a Pixel, or even its older sibling, the Z4, shows how far cameras have come. For me, the camera is the most important function of a smartphone. If the camera is bad, the phone is of no use to me. Battery life is a close second, and as I mentioned already, the Z’s 2,600 mAh battery has pretty much given up. 


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My experience with the rest of my Moto Mod collection is not exclusive to the Moto Z 2016, since all mods with across the entire family of Moto Z phones, but it certainly helped make the phone, which feels otherwise stale, into something more fun. 

The mods I have on hard are: 

  • Battery 
  • Incipio Projector 
  • Polaroid Instashare Printer 
  • Moto Gamepad 
  • Moto 360 Camera 
Mot Z with Mods

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I already discussed how the battery saved me from having to charge 2-3 times per day. The rest of the Mods worked great on the phone and like I said, added some incentive to keep using this phone despite its shortcomings and age. The Alexa speaker is staple day-to-day in my use of the Moto Z. Now, caveat, the Alexa hands-free app does not support Android 8.0 and the Moto Z, so the speaker is just a speaker, sans the smart/connected features. It was a bit of a letdown to be unable to use this feature, but even without it, the speaker sound excellent. 

Moto Z with Moto Mod Battery Pack

The Polaroid is just a party trick strapped to the back of a smartphone, but it is a lot of fun to use.  

Polaroid Instashare Printer Mod

The Instashare Projector did not get much this time around. However, I used to use it daily as a bedroom TV and was also a trusted travel companion ensuring we always had the movie or shows that we wanted to watch available. 

The gamepad had a lot of potential and is fun to use depending on the game, most games I play on my phone are racing games and the gamepad handles hat well for the most part, but the design of the controller can make its use a challenge from time to time. 

Finally, the Moto 360 camera is a fun accessory, makes for a great travel accessory or if you have a specific thing you want to capture. However, in day-to-day use, it is not something you really need. 

Final note on the Mods. They all sound great, and mostly work great, but the cost of Mods on top of what is, or was, an expensive phone is a roadblock to making this practical for most people. This brings me back to what I was eluding to earlier. The Moto Z 2016 cannot really stand on its own as a viable smartphone in 2021, 5-years after its launch. The Mods were the only thing that made the phone usable and to purchase all the Mods I own would cost you about $500 today. 

Conclusion – Can you or should you use a 5-year-old smartphone? 

For the most things sure. However, your experience is going to be severely compromised, and the lack of OS and security updates will leave you vulnerable to issues that do not make the tradeoff worth it. Any other 5-year-old phone, without the ability to augment its function using Moto Mods would leave most wanting to pull their hair out. In the end it was a fun experience, but I am happy to put the Moto Z back in its box and get back to using something more modern and up to date! 


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Smartphone Apps Gadget Syrup Cannot Live Without

We can do nearly anything on our phones today. In fact, I can run my entire site from my phone. Want to see how? Check out the apps Gadget Syrup cannot live without.

As time goes on, we can do more and more day-to-day work from our smartphones. Some people I know run their entire life off their phone, never sitting down at a computer to get things done.

I recently started looking at home much I actually do from my phone and I was quite surprised how much I do, or can do from my phone.

As a result, I wanted to compile a list of the apps and services I use on mobile to run Gadget Syrup. Check it out!



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WordPress

This first one is self-explanatory. This is the WordPress mobile app. It allows me to monitor stats, create or posts and reply to comments, among other things all from my phone. You can even write a whole post from the mobile app. However, not only is it a lot of work to create a quality post on a screen this size, a lot of WordPress blocks are not compatible or able to be added from the app.

WordPress

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Asana

Asana is a take management application that I have been a religious user of for last 3-4 yrs. Ideally, you use it with a team of people but for a content and admin planning tool it is a must. Best of all, for most of what you need, you can use Asana completely free of charge.

Asana

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Google Analytics

Another obvious one by the title. Google Analytics gives you details on anything you could ever want to know about your websites traffic. It is far superior to what the WordPress stats offer.

Google Analytics

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Creator Studio

This one is new to the list. From Facebook, Creator Studio gives you analytics on your Facebook page tied to your business or website. It focuses a lot of video creators, but still works well to triage comments.

Facebook Creator Studio

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Buffer

Planning is everything when it comes to running your own site and social channels.

I have been a Buffer user for a decade now, using it to schedule Tweets and Facebook posts for Gadget Syrup.

Buffer can also setup Instagram posts among other social accounts, but it works best for Twitter and Facebook.

Buffer


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Later

Later is a service I have used off and on for the past year. It allows you to schedule social posts, like Buffer, but I only use it for Instagram posts. It is very handy if you find your best time to post is a time where you may not be there to post. Set it and forget it!

Their Instagram account is also a great follow!

Later

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Canva

I am not a graphic designer, but I like to pretend! Canva enables users of any level to create axing designs using their templates. They offer various presets for posts like Stories and Feed posts on Instagram as well as Twitter, Facebook and others ensuring your creation is the proper ratio for the given network.

Canva

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Snapseed

Snapseed is a powerful photo editing app that has been available for years.

It is owned by Google l, and they have been rolling a lot of the features of Snapseed into Google Photos. However, Snapseed still has a lot to offer if you want to add a little more to your pictures.

Snapseed

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Regrann

Regrann is the best all-around Instagram repost app available, on Android at least.

You can repost to your feed, stories or just save the image/story to your camera roll.

It is worth the purchase for the upgraded version too allowing you to remove watermarking and the “posted with Regrann” message from your posts.

Regrann

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PanoramaCrop

PanoramaCrop is another new one I have used only a few times. The app helps you create perfectly sized divided images for your feed that flow from left to right like one single image.

PanoramaCrop

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Pexels and Unsplash

I grouped Pexels and Unsplash together because for all intents and purposes they are the same thing. Each app has an enormous collection of free stock images to use. I have started using them both to generate feature images for the pages pf Gadget Syrup, as well as the hero image for some blog posts.

Both services also offer their services on the web to use from your PC.

Pexels
Unsplash

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Snapmod

This is one of my favourite apps. Snapmod contains hundreds of smartphones renders and through this very well-designed app you can insert screenshots from your device onto a render of your device or any other.

You’ll also notice that all of the app screenshots in this article were created with Snapmod!

There are a few caveats to be aware of now that many devices come with different screen ratios and the placement of any notches or camera cutouts will make your screen shot look out of place.

I’ve also noticed the developer for this app is slow to add new models, sometimes months after a phones release. In time, my feeling is that this app will stop being updated. Fingers crossed I am wrong!


Snapmod

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As you can see it is a pretty long list of apps. Do you use any in your day to day? Are there any other apps you would suggest I look at? Let me know in the comments below.


Check out some recent posts from Gadget Syrup

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Kickstarter Spotlight: STORM 2 Sci-Fi EDC Power Bank For Digital Nomads

The STORM 2 EDC Portable Battery is not your average power bank.

There are a lot, like a lot, of different portable battery packs on the market. You see them everywhere. Like Google Home Minis, you find them everywhere you turn, even in the the bottom of the cereal box. For the most part, they are all the same boring black slab of battery with nothing that sets it apart from the others. Ever once in a while, you find one that stands out. However, they’re a pretty boring category of tech gear.


I will admit, the Pikachu one is pretty damn cool. It also has USB C for charging which is nice ⚡

I don’t use these very often any more. Mostly because they either lack the power to run everything I need them to or just don’t like to lug the ugly bricks around. Then I came across the STORM 2 Power Bank courtesy of Daniel Rubino from Windows Central. Much like Daniel, I find these battery packs tend to all be the same, but the STORM 2 has an LCD which ties into the battery pack’s OS/firmware and the housing for the battery is completely clear. It caught my attention.


I have seen a lot of comparisons to a Cyberpunk-style design, but for me it feels more like a prop from Star Trek.


STORM 2 Power Bank from Kickstarter
Microsoft Surface Duo connected to the Storm 2 Power Bank. 📸: Daniel Rubino

What is the STORM 2 Sci-Fi EDC Power Bank For Digital Nomads?

The STORM 2 is a 27,600mAh / 99.36 Wh battery pack at its core, but it has a few extra tricks up its sleeve. The housing that encases the battery is clear, which serves no purpose other than to look cool and nerdy which is right in my wheelhouse. You can see the battery, circuitry and ports.

On the top-side the STORM 2 has a LCD display which allows you to control the power banks OS/firmware. Yes, this battery pack runs its own OS. The OS runs on a 32-bit M3 ARM MCU chip.

Check out the spec breakdown:

Power100W PD In/Out
3.3-25.2V DC Out
Pass-through charging
Battery27,600mAh/99.36Wh
Panasonic-Sanyo NCR18650GA
Ports2x USB Type-C (100W, 30W)
1x USB Type-A (5V)
1x DC Output (3.3-25.2V/3A)
Display1.14″ IPS TFT LCD
FeaturesAirline Safe Compact Battery Bank
Retro Style Monitor
Manual Power Control
Voltage Protection
Short Circuit, and Temperature Protection
Lifespan500 charges
Recharge time1.5 hours
Size151 x 46 x 59 mm
Weight578 grams
MaterialAluminum Alloy/V0 fireproof chassis

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Using the single button on the battery allows you to control the batteries settings for things like temperature control, voltage, etc.



Thanks to the impressive spec list the STORM 2 can fast-charge 3 devices simultaneously. On their Kickstarter page they state you can “charge your DJI drone with the DC port, MacBook Pro & iPhone with two USB-C ports, and your smart watch at the same time to boost your productivity.” It is pretty impressive that a portable pack this small has the ability to charge a MacBook Pro plus additional peripherals.


Charge your DJI drone with the DC port, MacBook Pro & iPhone with two USB-C ports, and your smart watch at the same time to boost your productivity.


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The DC port which allows for passthrough charging is also key for the STORM 2. Many, or rather most power banks do not allow for this, unless you’re breaking the bank and getting something like the massive Anker batteries that are more akin to a car battery in size. It is this kind of convenience coupled with a good price that make this so compelling.


It is also worth nothing the Watt-Hour size of this battery, which is 99.36Wh. Why 99.36? The STORM 2 is “airline safe” and they were able to achieve this by keeping the battery capacity under the 100Wh airline restriction. When we are allowed to do things like fly again and travel you will be able to bring your STORM 2 with you keeping your devices charged, even above 30,000 ft!


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Where can you buy the STORM 2?

The STORM 2 is currently running its campaign on Kickstarter. The team behind this battery pack reached their goal of $10,000 USD or $12,900 CAD about 5 minutes after going live and the project currently has a little over $200,000 CAD in funding. If you would like to back the STORM 2, Early Bird pricing is still available for $138 CAD + $24 CAD in shipping. The campaign runs until March 25, 2021 and orders are expected to start shipping internationally in April of 2021.

Check out the STORM 2 on Kickstarter

Syrup Drop: Keep Your Android Phone Unlocked While At Home And On The Go

Google Smart Lock is a convenient feature that will help you unlock your phone easier when at home and on the go!

There has been a lot of fuss over the upcoming iOS update that will make unlocking your iPhone easier with a mask on if you are paired with an Apple Watch. As a result, I’ve seen a lot of Android users complaining about Googles’ lack of a response on the Android side.

However, Android has had a built in feature to assist with unlocking your phone, or rather keeping it unlocked, for years now.

Smart Lock is a feature introduced in Android all the way back in 2014 with Android 5.0. It has evolved over the years adding some really useful features. The most noteworthy being trusted places and trusted devices.


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Smart Lock Trusted Places

Trusted places is a Smart Lock feature that keeps your Android device unlocked when you are at a designated location. By default it selects your home location as an option but you can add others as desired. Such as work, the gym, or wherever. The setting uses your geolocation to keep the device unlocked.

Use this one with caution though, because if you leave your phone behind, it won’t lock until a period of about 4 hours has passed.


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Smart Lock Trusted Devices

The trusted devices setting is the closest to what Apple is trying to achieve with its Apple Watch tie-in for the next iOS iteration. When your Android devices is connected to a Bluetooth device you can tell Android to keep your phone unlocked as long as this connection is active. This works best with devices that use Bluetooth Low Energy. Below shows the various Bluetooth devices I have paired with my Android device. Anytime these devices are connected by device is unlocked and ready to use. In my case, my Samsung smartwatch is connected to the phone 99% of the time, which cancels the other devices out, but I suggest adding them regardless of that as a fall back.


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Smart Lock On-Body Detection

The final Smart Lock setting available to users is the on-body detection. I do not recommend using this one as it is the least secure of the bunch and Android has been known to think it is in motion even when completely stationary.

When working correctly Smart Lock will lock your device once motion is no longer detected. It is not a secure method, to say the least. Consider this one a major trade off for convenience.


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That is Smart Lock in a but shell. A simple solution to keeping your phone conveniently unlocked while keeping security, for the most part, in tact. If you’re using a device that relies on face unlock, like the Pixel 4 using these features should be a big help when rocking your mask when out and about.


Thanks for reading the latest Syrup Drop! If you have any tips or tricks you would like to share get in touch with me HERE.

Syrup Drop: Turn Off Google Maps Turn-By-Turn Audio.

Turn off turn-by-turn audio in Google Maps with this handy tip!

I was listening to the All About Android podcast recently, and the show’s crew was talking about the annoyance of Google Maps barking out directions while driving that was more disruptive than helpful. One of the show hosts, Ron, said that he had never come across the option to reduce or silence Google Maps voice directions in all his years of using Android.

This is a feature I have used for years while using Google Maps as a passive timer and route avoidance tool. I was pretty surprised to hear someone on an Android Podcast say they had no idea that this feature existed. I also got a laugh out of Ron stating he was too busy with twins to sit down and learn about things like that. This was funny to me, because I too have twins, but they are kid number 4 and 5!

Regardless of the humour and surprise, I thought that if the AA crew didn’t know this function, many of you might not know about it as well.


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Enter Syrup Drop; A series of posts that will feature a quick and useful tech-related tip that you may find helpful!

By default, Google Maps has all voice navigation unmuted and provides users with turn-by-turn directions while navigating from place to place. While this feature is beneficial when visiting a new destination, it can be somewhat distracting and in some case annoying when using Maps to plan you busy drive to work or some other location.

It is a pretty straightforward function to alter as well; there is no Apple-style digging through the settings to find this. The setting is staring right at you during your navigation. Check it out below.



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The options are as follows;

  • Unmuted – Full voice navigation. Each turn, a different route or traffic issue is announced.
  • Alarms only – You’ll hear alerts like traffic, construction, and crashes. You won’t hear the constant turn-by-turn navigation.
  • Muted – This one is pretty self-explanatory. When active, Google Maps will stay completely silent. The only issue with this option is that should Google discover trouble on your route or a faster route, you’re likely to miss the onscreen pop-up.

That is it for this one! Hopefully, we can all get back to travelling soon and put this handy feature to use.


If you have any other tips and tricks like this, please get in touch with me HERE.

Meet The Motorola Edge+ and Motorola Edge

The wait is finally over! Motorola has unveiled two new flagship devices. The Edge+ and the Edge. Check them out!

Motorola fans didn’t think the day would ever come. Motorola has been out of the flagship game for so long, most thought Motorola would continue to make bank in the mid-range smartphone market.

However, the wait is finally over. Today Motorola unveiled its new family of premium smartphones: motorola edge+ and motorola edge. These new devices mark Motorola’s “much-awaited return to the flagship space. Motorola’s newest smartphones are the fastest, loudest, and boldest on the market.”

The new Motorola flagship devices have been leaking all over the internet for a few months now, but with the curtains finally pulled back on them we can really dig into what this means for the former king of phone makers.


The New Motorola Edge+

Let’s look at the specs first!

SpecMotorola Edge +Motorol Edge
Screen 6.7″, Endless Edge, HDR10, 90Hz6.7″, Endless Edge, HDR10, 90Hz
ProcessorSnapdragon™ 865Snapdragon™ 765
Camera (rear)108 MP main sensor + 8 MP telephoto lens + 16 MP ultra-wide angle lens with built-in Macro Vision64MP main lens + 16MP ultra-wide lens with Macro Vision + 8 MP telephoto lens
Camera (front)25 MP front-facing25 MP front-facing
Battery5,000 mAh4,500 mAh
ColoursSmoky Sangria, Thunder GreyMidnight Magenta, Solar Black

There are other specs I could call out, for example, the Edge+ will have 5G, a headphone jack and wireless charging but lacks an official IP rating for dust and water protection. But I think the table covers the ones most people are concerned with. The waterfall edge screen, hence the Edge name, is already proving to be a polarizing decision made by Motorola. Flagships launched in late 2019 and early 2020 elected to drop the curved edge displays in favour of a flat panel. Motorola going with this deep curved edge may push some buyers away.

Edge+ in Smoky Sangria

My thoughts… The camera will make or break these devices

If you have scrolled through and read anything on GadgetSyrup, it is pretty obvious. I am a Motorola fan and have a great relationship with them. However, despite my affinity for their devices, their software and the company in general I am always left wanting more. Specifically in the camera department. The triple sensor package found on the Edge + looks great on paper and in the samples Motorola provided below, but I will have to wait patiently to test this camera out to know if Motorola has a winner in its hands this time. The last true flagship they released was the Moto Z2 and it fell flat in the camera department.

These image samples are only from the Edge+.


Pricing and Availability

The Edge + will retails for $999.99 USD. Below you can see when and where in the world the Edge + will be available for purchase.

  • Beginning in May, motorola edge+ will be available in various countries across Europe, in UAE at Etisalat and du and in KSA at stc. In the coming months, motorola edge+ will begin to roll out in India and select Latin American markets.
  • United States: In the U.S., the new edge+ will be available exclusively on Verizon, starting May 14 for $41.66 a month for 24 months on Verizon Device Payment (0% APR; $999.99 retail).
  • Promotions: 
    • Customers who get a new line of service on select Unlimited plans can save up to $550 on a new Motorola edge+ with an applicable trade-in.
    • Additionally, customers who switch from another carrier to a select Verizon Unlimited plan get a $150 Verizon e-gift card for a total savings of up to $700. Plus get a Verizon Stream TV, an Amazon Echo Dot and smart plug on us.
    • Current Verizon customers on select Unlimited plans can save up to $250 on a new Motorola edge+ with an applicable trade-in when you upgrade.
  • Canada: In Canada, the new edge+ will be available at Bell, Rogers, TELUS and Freedom Mobile. For more information, visit motorola.ca.

The standard Edge will retails for €699, and available in Italy first. Below shows further availability. Canadian availability is unknown at this time.

  • Motorola edge will be available in Italy beginning in May ( MSRP: €699 ) and launched  to various European countries in the following weeks. In the coming months, motorola edge will begin to roll out across select markets in Latin America and Asia Pacific.
  • In the U.S., the new edge will be available later this year. More information to come this summer.

I am waiting to hear from Motorola on review unit availability, but as soon as I have one in hand I will be sure to share my impressions as I put it through a full review.

Motorola Razr Now Available In Canada

Motorola Razr is finally available in Canada!

After being release a few months ago in the United States, the Motorola Razr is finally available in Canada. Although, only at select retailers.


Motorola Razr

Starting on April 17th the reincarnation of the original Razr is available from Telus Mobility and Freedom Mobile.

At the time I am posting this article, the Razr is not available to be purchased outright as an unlocked phone. And according to Motorola’s PR, it won’t be made available as an unlocked unit. It can be purchased outright from Telus or Freedom, but that will come at a pretty hefty price compared to if the likes of Amazon we’re selling the new Razr.

Another consideration with the Razr is it’s eSIM. With no ability to insert your own SIM card, using with your carrier may be a challenge.


Are foldable phones the future or a fad?

Motorola hasn’t sent out review units on the Razr at the time this post goes live, and I have the feeling they won’t based on the launch in the US and the scarcity of review devices in that Maker. However, if that changes I will be reviewing for sure. I’m a big Motorola fan and would love to take Razr out for a spin!


What are your thoughts? Any plans to purchase the Razr?

Motorola Edge + Leak Gives Full Render of Upcoming Device

Motorola is on the verge of launching its first true flagship since the Motorola Z2 and Z2 Force and thanks to Evan Blass, noted leaker has provided us with what appears to be the press renders of the upcoming device.

Motorola is on the verge of launching its first true flagship since the Motorola Z2 and Z2 Force and thanks to Evan Blass, noted leaker has provided us with what appears to be the press renders of the upcoming device.


Rumored Motorola Edge+ Flagship Render

The Edge+ is expected to bring the goods on the spec front too. Here is what we know about the device so far

  • Snapdragon 865
  • 5G
  • 6.7″ Super AMOLED display
  • 108mp main camera, 16mp wide-angle camera, 8mp telephoto camera, 25mp selfie camera
  • 8 – 12 GB RAM
  • 256 GB storage
  • 5,000 mAh battery


There is no official word on when the device will launch, but we should expect to hear something from Motorola soon. A few media outlets are pointing to April 3rd for the announcement. However, any keen Moto fans will know that the date April 3rd on all Moto renders is a throwback to April 3rd, 1973. This marks the date Motorola placed the first ever call on a mobile network.


What are your thoughts on these leaks? If you ask me, Motorola is long over due getting back into the flagship game!

Motorola Moto G Power Preview

Motorola took the covers of two new mid-range Moto G phones today. Check out a preview of the Moto G Power.

Motorola took to covers off the latest editions to the Moto G family and they look very good!

First thing you’ll notice is that Moto dropped the number naming scheme used for all other Moto G phone since the Moto G2. I find this odd, since we say the Moto G8 Plus launch in late 2019. Oh well, I’m not that concerned.

There were two phones announced today the Moto G Power and Moto G Stylus

You can read more about the Moto G Stylus by clicking the link below



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First up though is the Moto G Power. I had a love hate relationship with the G7 Power last year. I loved the fit and finish of the phone, the size, the display and of course the insane battery life. However, the camera and the overall performance of the phone left much to be desired. It was still my pick for those who need a good, basic phone that has great battery life, but for my needs, I couldn’t make it work long term.



This year looks like the Power is taking a big step forward on the spec sheet, check it out!


Moto G Power Specs

Operating systemAndroid™ 10
System Architecture/ProcessorQualcomm® Snapdragon™ 665 Mobile Processor
Memory (RAM)4GB
Storage (ROM)64GB built-in* | up to 512GB microSD card* expandable
Dimensions159.85 x 75.84 x 9.63mm
Weight199g
Display6.4″ FHD+ Max Vision display
Battery5000mAh
Charging10w rapid charger
Water ProtectionWater repellent design
Rear Camera16MP (f/1.7, 1.12μm)
2MP (f/2.2, 1.75μm) | macro | minimum 2cm focus distance
8MP (f/2.2, 1.12μm) | 118° ultra-wide angle
Video CaptureRear main camera: UHD (30fps) | FHD (60/30fps) | HD (30fps)
Rear ultra-wide angle camera: FHD (30fps) | HD (30fps)
Rear macro camera: HD (30fps)
Front Camera16MP (f/2.0, 1μm) | Quad Pixel technology
Bluetooth® TechnologyBluetooth® 5.0
FM RadioYes
SpeakersDual stereo speakers tuned by Dolby
NFCNo
In-box AccessoriesCharger, USB Type-C cable, guides, SIM tool
ColorsSmoke Black
ExperiencesMoto Actions: Quick capture, Fast flashlight, Three finger screenshot, Screenshot editor, Flip for DND, Pick up to silence, Media controls, Swipe to shrink

That’s a pretty hefty spec sheet for a mid-range device but lets unpack a few oh the highlights.


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6.4″ FHD+ Max Vision display

This is a pretty good size and nice to see the Power finally get the proper FHD bump. The size is also slightly larger than last years G7 Power, which was 6.2″ and only 720p. It’s still LCD, but the G7 LCDs were very clean and crisp to look at.

The display also ditches the large forehead in exchange for a smaller holepunch display like that of the Moto One Action.


5,000 mAh Battery

Last years G7 Power had the same size battery and 2 days of battery life was an easy feat. I expect much of the same this year.


Camera

The G7 Power’s camera was fine, in some cases, but on the whole suffered to take consistently reliable shots and video. This year the G Power is getting a major upgrade on the camera. The array is a triple-camera setup with standard 16 megapixel shooter, an 8 megapixel ultra-wide angle camera and finally a 2 megapixel macro lens for ultra close ups.

I am most excited for the wide angle camera since being able to get more into a shot is always a good thing. Let’s hope the performance is there.

The samples Motorola provided appear to be very respectable, but as always we will need to see how it performs in the real world.



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I am also suspicious as to if we will see a Moto G to replace last years G7. The camera on the Power tells me no, but we will se if there is a standard G model for North America with the same specs as the Moto G8 Power.


Dual-Stereo Speakers

This is very exciting actually. Motorola’s single speaker setup on the Z and G series has always done well, but having stereo sound is always welcomed and is a big differentiator in the mid-range.


NFC

Again, the G series will not see NFC, at least for this device. I have become a big fan of Google Pay and will struggle to go back to a world where I need to use my actual card. I do have Samsung Pay on my Gear S3 Frontier, but it is clunky and slow to load. We will see how it goes when I review the G Power.


With all of that, pros and cons aside, I am very excited to see what the G Power will bring to the table once I get my hands on a review unit.


The Moto G Power will be available this spring in Canada with Videotron and Freedom Mobile. Pricing isn’t yet known for the Canadian market but US pricing bring come in at about $250.


What do you think about the Moto G Power, it’s upgraded camera and massive battery?

Motorola To Launch Moto G8 At Mobile World Congress

Motorola expect to launch the Moto G8 and G8 Power at Mobile World Congress

Last year on February 7th, 2019, Motorola took the covers off the Moto G7 series of phones, but up to this point we haven’t heard much about when the Moto G8 will launch. I assumed that the G series would take a seat for a later spring launch since Motorola is firmly focused on pushing its February 6th, 2020 release of the new Motorola Razr. It looks like my speculation was right.

Reporting from 91mobiles, Motorola will be heading to Mobile World Congress 2020 to show it its Moto G8 handset.


Moto G8 Render from 91mobiles

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The new G8 will depart from the traditional surprised robot camera bump and adopt the camera layout seen on recent Motorola One devices as well as the Brazil exclusive G8 Plus device that launched in late 2019.


What to Expect from the Moto G8?

The G8 will still firmly be in the mid-range category running a SnapDragon 665 chipset, a 6.39-inch 720 x 1,560 LCD display, 3GB or 4GB of RAM, 32GB or 64GB of storage and will be running Android 10 out of the box.

The camera on the G7 was passable, but suffered in low-light like most other mid-rangers. The G8 will hopefully bring an incremental improvement. The device reportedly will ship with a 16-megapixel shooter with an f/1.7 primary shooter, a 2-megapixel f/2.2 macro camera and an 8-megapixel f/2.2 118-degree wide-angle sensor. On paper, it sounds promising, but we will have to wait and see how it performs.

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Moto G7

Around the front of the G8 we’re expecting am 8-megapixel f/2.0 hole-punch camera.

Finally, the battery is expected to get a 25% capacity bump over last year moving up to 4,000mAh with 10W fast charging.

There has also been rumors that the G8 Power will launch along side the G8 with a similar spec sheet. Last years G7 Power was only a single camera module with a lower-spec chipset. The G8 Power could also see a 25-megapixel front facing camera similar to that of the Z4. The G7 Power sported a 5,000mAh battery last year, so I hope to see the same, or larger, capacity this year.

I have been a fan of the G-series Moto phones since they came out and got a lot of use out of both the G7 and G7 Power so will be eager to review these units as they come to market.

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Thoughts on the Moto G8 and G8 Power? Let me know!


Check out other recent Motorola news, including the rumored Galaxy Note competitor.

New Motorola Razr Camera Features

The new Razr is coming soon. Check out some of the Razrs camera tricks!

As Razr Release day nears, February 6th for those in the US, Motorola has posted a series of YouTube videos showcasing some the features and functions of the highly anticipated folding smartphone. In this video, below, Motorola highlights some of the camera functionality found in the Razr.

A lot of these features can be found in every other recent Motorola smartphone such as Smile Selfie, Portrait Mode, and Night Vision. Some new and notable additions are Portrait Lighting and one that is going to be key for me (and my five kids), Camera Cartoon. This feature uses to external display to show a cartoon smiley face which will help to keep everyone’s attention while capturing the perfect shot.


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A lot of really fun features are packed into Motorola cameras, but we will need to wait and see if the camera quality is there or not.

Check out more Motorla Razr coverage here

New Motorola Razr Comes With Nightstand Amplifier Because Why Not

The new Moto Razr is coming soon! Moto has shown off some new features including the box doubling as a nightstand amplifier.

Motorola’s new Razr is due in the US on February 6th, with other areas coming soon thereafter. As we get closer to the launch date Motorola US has started dropping videos on their YouTube channel highlighting some of the features of the Razr.

In this first video we see what the unboxing experience looks like. The video is short, but shows that the Razr comes bundled with a Turbo Power charger, “Razr Earbuds”, which will likely be USB Type-C, an accessory carrying case and a “Nightstand Amplifier”. Ok, it actually doesn’t come with that, but they are saying the box doubles as one. Motorola didn’t share anything more than that, so we will need to wait and see what this amplifier really does. I think we can likely assume it will simply function as an ersatz loudspeaker (like when you put your phone in a cup or paper towel tube).


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Check out the video below;

“Unboxing Razr”

You can check out more Razr videos on the Motorola US YouTube Channel here.

Motorola Moto Z4 Long-Term Review: Long Live the Z and Moto Mods!

Check out the GadgetSyrup review of the Motorola Z4. Is this the last stand for the Z line and Moto Mods?

I have been using the Moto Z4 for about 4 months now. By my standards, that’s a really long time. Most phones that come across my desk I don’t use for a very long time. I do switch to and from a small set of some of my favourites. I was jumping between the Pixel 2 and Galaxy S9 for a good chunk of the year but I haven’t gone with one phone as a daily driver for this length for a very long time and I have no intention of switching in the near future (unless the Razr delivers on the goods!).

Before I dive into the review I want to get something off my chest. The Z4 is a great phone but it was a failure before it even reached customers or reviewers’ hands. The reason, you ask? Tech reporters and bloggers that are, well, lazy and bored… Let me explain.

Left to right; Moto Z3 Play, Moto Z4, Moto Z

When the original Moto Z launched in the summer of 2016 there was a lot of excitement about its seemingly endless possibility of functions thanks to the innovative Moto Mod platform. Thanks to a simple phone design and a series of pogo-pins on the lower back of the phone you could turn your phone into a projector, printer, loudspeaker or add enough battery to last for 2-3 days of use. Motorola promised to deliver more Mods over time, and they did to a certain degree with some notable ones being the Alexa-enabled speaker (which is great by the way) and the Moto Gamepad. Some companies like Incipio added battery and car accessories and premium camera maker, Hasselblad released a fully-featured camera Mod. For the record, the camera, which came out around the time of the Moto Z2 and Z2 Play was pretty bad. It was slow and the sensor was just bad. However, most Moto Mods were good to great but were on the expensive side.

Motorola, recently acquired by Lenovo, committed to a 3-year release of devices that would support the Moto Mod ecosystem. At the time, everyone applauded Motorola for such a commitment.

By the time Motorola released the Moto Z3 and Z3 Play the media, big and small were complaining that the Moto Z design was tired and too dated to continue. Effectively, the blogosphere wanted the Moto Z and its Mods to be taken out to pasture. I used, and reviewed the Moto Z3 Play, last year and it was a really good phone and I really enjoyed using it. Was the camera as good as my Google Pixel XL (1st gen)? No, the camera was not the greatest but was perfectly usable in most situations. Even more so after I installed the Google Camera APK. Most reviews though, said the phone was dead on arrival and should never have been released.

Fast forward a year and the Z4 was leaked, subsequently announced and by the time it reached reviewers’ hands, most were already jumping on the hate-train saying Motorola is wasting its time, don’t bother with the Z4 and no one wants Moto Mods.

Hi! I do! I want Moto Mods! I have several and have invested myself in the ecosystem. On top of the Mods, I really like the build of Motorola phones, both for their physical and software designs.

What’s In The Box?

  • Moto Z4
  • Turbo Power Charging Adapter
  • USB A to C Cable
  • The usual paperwork
  • Moto 360° Camera Mod

Moto Z4 Specifications

What I Liked About the Moto Z4

Moto Mods

When I reviewed the Moto Z3 Play last summer, the number one thing I said liked about the device, was the mod ecosystem. This is still the case in 2019 when I use the Z4. The mods are what make the device worth it. I will admit that the case for the Z-line living on is getting harder and harder to make and the odds a Z5 seem pretty slim right now. My only hope is the fact that they firmly positioned the Z4 in the mid-range with its 600 series Snapdragon CPU. Doing this makes sense and removes the need for a lower end Play device.

As for the mods though, they are incredibly useful and augment the experience of the phone dramatically. Here are the mods I have:

  • InstaShare Projector
  • Gamepad
  • InstaShare Polaroid Printer
  • Alexa Speaker
  • 360 Camera

I use the projector and speaker daily and the other three make at least one or two appearances a week. I will often switch to another device for a review or just for fun, but I always end up having to keep the Z4 at the ready becasue I have become too used to having the mods there.

The caveat is that the mods are still very expensive. They are coming down in price, so if you are new to the Z-line and want to use mods, now is the time. For example, the projector had an original $400 CAD price tag. Today it is available on Amazon for less than $175 CAD.

The other caveat with mods and Z-line beyond the Z5 speculation is the lack of growth in the mod ecosystem. When Motorola brought us the original Moto Z in 2016 there was a promise of dozens of mods and a 3rd party ecosystem. Today, there are about a dozen mods still available online and even less directly from Motorola. That fact worries me and should be a major point of consideration.

The Camera

The 48 MP shooter on the Z4 is great when used properly.

For years Motorola has been slated for having poor camera performance. The software that drives the Motorola Camera app has been feature-packed but always struggled to produce consistent and reliable output.

That is less of a problem with the Z4, but it is still a problem. Enter Google Camera…

Thanks to a dedicated community of modders one can get a version of the Google Camera app for almost every device available today. Including the Z4.

If you have or are considering the Moto Z4 I absolutely implore you to install this APK and use it as your primary camera app. I haven’t touched the Moto app for months unless I have absolutely had too, and I have not missed a beat.

The camera performance is little slow still, even with the Google app, but that is a byproduct of the Snapdragon 675 and only 4GB of RAM. However, as long as your patient and set your expectations, I think you will be just fine. I was coming from a Pixel and a Galaxy S9 which were very fast and had Snapdragon 835 and 845 CPUs respectively and the performance difference was not that noticeable from a speed perspective.

Battery Life

Thanks to the 3,600 mAh battery inside the Z4 making through a whole day on a single charge is possible. I have been using the phone for 4 months now and have not seen much regression in day to day battery life. I do, however, lean on my devices very hard and usually need to top up at least once to make sure I can make it through my typical day which normally spans from about 5:00 am to 10:00 pm. I have recently ordered a battery mod to give me another 2,200 mAh battery just for fun.

What I Didn’t Like About the Moto Z4

There is not a lot I didn’t like about the Z4. If I had to pick one thing, it is the in-screen fingerprint scanner. Last year, the Z3 lineup had a horrible side-mounted fingerprint scanner which I still absolutely despise. This isn’t that bad, but it is less than enjoyable. Thankfully, I spend most of my time having the Z4 connected to either my Gear S3 Frontier or a set of Bluetooth headphones that keep the device unlocked thanks to Google Smart Lock. When the fingerprint scanner does light up, I find that it is generally inaccurate and slow. Again, not a major issue based on my use case, but consideration to account for nonetheless.

I would also give the Z4 a slight knock for its build design. It is hard to articulate this, since the phone is, more or less, the same footprint as the original Moto Z, but the slight rounding of the backside of the phone causes Moto Mods to have a small, but noticeable gap between the phone and the mod. The original Moto Z was a perfect match to all mods, the Z3 was almost there, but the Z4 just does not fit mods well.

Should You Buy The Moto Z4?

Moto Z4 and Moto Z

For the majority of people out there, you would probably look at the device and think you can get a Pixel 3a for only a little more or a Motorola G7 for a little bit less and wonder, why consider the Z4. The decision to buy this device really comes down to two things; Moto Mods and performance. If you have owned a Z phone before or want to augment your phone use with a mod, even just a speaker or the 360° camera, then this phone is worth it. Also, consider that no new mods are likely to come to the market. On the performance side, the phone holds up and if you have never had a phone with flagship specs you likely will not know the difference. However, switching from a phone with an 8XX series CPU and 6+ GB of RAM, you will feel the slow down when using the Z4.

If you can get past either of these, then buy this phone! With Black Friday and Christmas coming up fast, you’ll be sure to see some deals on the Z4 too!

Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think.

New Motorola One Action Is Like Having a GoPro In Your Smartphone

Image: Screenshot via Motorola YouTube

Motorola has finally unveiled the rumoured Motorola One Action and it is shaping up to be a pretty exciting looking device.

Full disclaimer here, I am a huge Motorola fan, and not in the ‘I had a Razr before Razrs were cool (I did though…just saying). My first device was a Motorola, and I have owned at least 15-20 different Moto phones over the years. Some of my favourites being the Razr, Milestone, Moto X and the list goes on. Currently, I have been spending my days with the Moto Z4, which is the 4th generation of heavily-criticized modular phone device that allows you to add functionally to your phone by way of snap-on devices like a projector, printer or speaker to the back of the device, to name a few. I will have a Z4 review coming out in the coming weeks, stay tuned for that!

Ok, back to the One Action!

The phone is being dubbed as the “Action Cam” on Motorola Bazil’s website, where Moto is touting this as the first smartphone to have this feature

The phone’s specs are ok, but nothing that blows me away on paper, such as the Samsung Exynos 9609 CPU, 4GB of RAM and a 12:9 display with a resolution of 2520 x 1080. The cameras are where Motorola is hoping it has created something special.

The 16 MP “Action Cam” doubles as an Ultra-Wide angle camera that may use “pixel binning” which will, in theory, provide a greater dynamic range to shots. Beyond the “Action Cam” you will also find a 12 MP primary camera and 5 MP depth sensor to enable portrait shots. The One Action also sports a 12 MP selfie-shooter around front.

The Motorola One Action went up for sale on August 16th in parts of Europe, Mexico and Brazil for the equivalent of about $380 CAD. Motorola did say though that phone will arrive in Canada and U.S. early in October of 2019, pricing remains unknown at this time.

The price and the dated mid-range specs have me wondering if this phone will be what Motorola hopes it to be, but, being the rose-coloured glasses-wearing Moto fan that I am, I am hoping the phone surprises me when I get my hands on it.

Motorola Z3 Play Review: Third Times a Charm?

Motorola committed to three generations of Moto Mod compatible phones. Well, we have reached that third generation with the Z3 Play. Is this one last kick at the can or third times a charm?

I have spent several months with the Z3 Play now to give it a full and proper review. Is it worth the price tag? Are Mods any good? Check out the review to see where I landed after using the phone as a proper daily driver.

What is the Motorola Z3 Play and Why Does It Matter?

The Motorola Z line of phones were first seen in the fall of 2016 with the launch of the original Moto Z. It came with on the heels of the LG G5, which was pitched as the first modular phone. As we know, the G5 was an unmitigated disaster and a complete flop. I still see the G5 in public from time to time and immediately want to engage in conversation with that person since they must be some sort of crazy to still be using that device on the daily.

The Moto Z on the other hand was also pitched as the first truly modular phone and, in my opinion, was. Thanks to an ultra thin design and exposed pogo-pins on the back of the phone, customers were able to connect mods to the phone to enhance or add functionality.

At launch there were only a few mods available. A speaker, battery pack, some decorative shells and a mini-projector. Now the device supports a dozen or so different mods and other manufactures have taken a stab at creating their own third-party mods. Some of the more popular mods today are a game controller, Alexa speaker and 360 camera.

What I Liked

Moto Mods

Ever since I laid my hands on the original Moto Z along with the InstaShare Projector and Polaroid Printer mods I fell in love with them. Using the Z3 Play with those mods as well as the controller, 360 camera and Amazon Alexa mods has only enhanced the experience. Admittedly, if I had to put out fill price for the mods, my opinion on them may change. They are very expensive add-ons for an already expensive purchase.

So far, in my use, I have gotten the most use out of the InstaShare Projector, the game controller mod and the Alexa speaker.

The projector mod gets used daily. Most other reviewers said it was too niche, why would you ever use it, etc, etc. Well, in my case we started using it for camping and traveling to ensure we could watch what we wanted, when we wanted and where. Today, as my family and I are moving to a new house, we have been living in temporary place as we wait for our new home. Rather than lug along a large and heavy TV, we carry our 65” equivalent project mod from place to place. It is great.

The 360 camera does a great job with applications like Facebook Live, but when it comes to taking still photos, it is less than stellar image quality.

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Battery Life

Thanks to the Snapdragon 636 CPU that comes with the Z3 Play the battery life on this phone has been incredible considering it is only a 3000 mAh battery. The same battery in my Galaxy S9 and Pixel XL struggle to get through a day. Most days with the Z3 Play I am able to comfortably go from 5 am to 9 pm with no need to get a top up.

Moto Actions and Gestures

Moto Actions and Moto Gestures have been a staple of all Motorola phones for years now, going way back to the original Moto X (still one of the best phones ever released). Going from the Moto Z3 Play to another device is always such a jarring experience without these added functions.

For example; I can double “chop” the phone in my hand to turn on the flashlight and double “snap” my wrist to open the camera. This may seem very basic but once you have worked that into your routine it is hard to get away from. I still “chop” my S9 trying to turn on the flashlight only to have nothing happen. Thankfully the S9 allows me to press and hold the Bixby button and ask her to turn on the flashlight. Thanks, Bixby! You’re the best!

What I Did Not Like

Camera

Camera’s really are what makes a smartphone. This has been true for years. Motorola has struggled to make headway in the phone market since 2014 with the Moto X and subsequent phones and that lies not with the lack of popularity of the brand or features like Moto Mods. No, that lack of market-share lies solely on the poor cameras found in their phones.

I will say the Z3, in the right light, can go toe-to-toe with my S9 or Pixel XL, but in the vast majority of cases the camera gives me really poor output to the point where I don’t even both taking pictures. I strongly believe that if Motorola could deliver anything near the quality found in the likes of S9 or Pixel these phones would move off the shelves quickly and features like the Moto Mods would be loved by all.

However, this isn’t the case and simple fact is, Motorola and cameras almost always ends poorly. Sorry, Moto

I will say though, that this and G6 are the best cameras you can get on a Motorola phone today.

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Fingerprint Scanner

The original and second gen Moto Z phones had a front-mounted fingerprint scanner. This was done because the Z-series needed to have a clean backside to allow for Moto Mods while not impeding other function. However, the year is 2018 and we want to see phones with a clean front, tiny bezels and 18:9 screen sizes. To accomplish that Motorola went with a fingerprint scanner mounted right beneath the volume rocker. This placement not only forced the power button to be moved to the left side of the device, but it also means every single time you pick up the phone you can be sure you will swipe the scanner and unlock the phone.

The scanner is fast and accurate, yes, but sometimes I just want to pick up the phone from my desk put it into my pocket.

Now, the side really is the only place to put the scanner, since in-screen options are not quite ready for prime time, or weren’t when this phone was developed, but put it on the other side! This would be my choice, but I’m not designing phones for Motorola, so that’s neither here, nor there.

Should You Buy Motorola Z3 Play?

If you have or want to get some Moto Mods, then yes. This phone is one I can recommend if that’s what you’re after. If you like a super thin phone with great battery life, yes, this phone is for you. However, if mods are something you have no interest in and you need a good to great camera, the Z3 Play is not for you unfortunately.

It is a good overall phone and I do enjoy using it, mostly because I have a half dozen or so Moto Mods to take advantage of, but with a device like the S9 or even my aging Pixel XL, i find myself putting it down in favour of either of those devices.

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Where to Buy

If you’re wanting to test drive the Moto Z3 Play you can pick it up at Bell, Videotron, Virgin and Sasktel or direct from Motorola. Check the link below for more on where to buy the Z3 Play. The kicker, the Z3 Play will set you back about $700 CAD.

At the $700 price point (Canadian $$) it is hard to justify this phone. It handles every task with ease, unlike the G series of phone which can get caught up due to a slow processor, but it doesn’t perform on the camera front to justify the price tag.


While you’re here, check out my other Motorola Reviews!

#HelloMoto – Motorola is Turning 90!

Motorola is one of the most iconic technology brands ever. They brought us the first ever mobile phone, the DynaTAC 8000X, the StarTac flip-phone, the Razr and the first truly modular phones.

Motorola is celebrating its 90th birthday right now, so lets take a quick trip down memory lane and check out some stellar deals from Moto to celebrate this amazing achievement.

 #90YearsofMotorola - Motorola, founded in 1928, with only 5 employees is celebrating its 90th birthday with some great deals.  Photo: https://twitter.com/Moto/status/1044512586937577472
#90YearsofMotorola – Motorola, founded in 1928, with only 5 employees is celebrating its 90th birthday with some great deals. Photo: https://twitter.com/Moto/status/1044512586937577472

If you are a die-hard geek you, at one point or another, were probably a big fan of Motorola. This company has delivered some of the most iconic devices in mobile communications history and holds a place in the hearts of many.

My first Motorola device that I remember was the original Motorola Razr. This phone and its ultra futuristic design launched smartphone design into the future thanks to its sharp corners, excellent screen and sci-fi-like number pad. I loved this phone. Like the iPhone today, the Razr was a status symbol and if you weren’t fortunate enough to have one, you almost never wanted to take your phone out of your pocket. Since then, I have carried several different Motorola phones and devices. They pretty much nail the user experience every time. The only complaint I have about their phones of late is the camera. If they could sort that out, I would never look at my Pixel XL again.

Why am I telling you all of this? Well, first, I like to reminisce about old tech and gadgets that I have had or used over the years, but I am specifically focused on Motorola because the now Lenovo owned company is celebrating its 90th birthday (and I’m a big fan!). Being a relevant brand for 90 years is an outstanding achievement, but being a relevant and leading company for 90 years in the technology sector is even more impressive.

In honor of this great achievement Motorola is running some deals that you may want to check out. See below!

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moto e series phones

  • moto e4 plus – $20-$30 off (16GB-32GB); sale price $149.99-$169.99

moto g series phones

  • moto g5 plus – $30-$60 off (32GB-64BG); sale price $199.99-$239.99

  • moto g5s plus – $40-$100 off (32GB-64GB); sale price $239.99-$249.99

  • moto g6 – $20 off; sale price $229.99

moto x series phones

  • moto x4 – $100 off 32GB, sale price $299.99

– $60 off 64GB; sale price $359.99

moto z series phones

Personally, the Moto Z3 Play with the Alexa speaker mod is my favourite. I have been testing both as part of an extended review of the Z3 and several Moto Mods and at this point, the Alexa Speaker has been the most useful of the lot.

Stay tuned for a lot more Motorola content on GadgetSyrup. Motorola is a brand I have been a big fan of for many years and have truly enjoyed testing and reviewing their devices of late!

Motorola Moto e5 Play Review: Entry Level At Its Best

If you’re looking for the prefect smartphone to give your kids (when they’re ready for one) then you will want to give the Motorola Moto E5 Play a series look. Check out the review!

I have been spending a lot of time with Motorola devices this year, having reviewed a few Moto Mods, the Moto g6 and g6 play. I have always been a moto fan and really enjoy using their devices all the way back to the original Moto X. 

The g-series of phones are a joy to use, despite being on a low-end of the mid-range category. Thanks to their excellent design, build-quality and software experience that, for the most part, does not leave you wishing you spent more money on a higher-end phone, these phones are ones I highly recommend. On paper, the g-series could be the perfect first phone for your kid when you feel both they and you are ready to take the plunge and let them have a device of their own. The only problem with the g-series is that it is likely destined to be damaged by your kid due to the materials used, especially on the g6 proper, and its glass back. I’ve actually been considering letting my kids have the g6 play to use to play games and consume content while on the go.

Then, I opened up the moto e5 play, the next in a series of Motorola phone reviews here at GadgetSyrup. After only a few minutes with this device, I immediately had cast it has the perfect phone for a kid. Read on to find out!

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What’s In The Box?

 Brad! You are not going to believe what I found in the box! 🔋
Brad! You are not going to believe what I found in the box! 🔋

So, what was on the box? 

  • Motorola Moto e5 Play
  • 10W USB Quick-Charger and micro USB Cable
  • Manual/Quick Start Guide
  • SIM Removal Tool
  • 2800 mAh Battery – Yes, the moto e5 play sports a removable battery

Specifications

  • Android 8.0 Oreo
  • Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 425/427 processor with 1.4GHz quad-core CPU
  • Adreno 308 GPU
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 16 GB Internal Storage + microSD card expansion up to 256 GB)
  • Rear Camera: 8 MP, f2.0, 1.12um pixels, LED flash
  • Front-Camera: 5MP, Selfie Flash/Light
  • Rear-mounted fingerprint scanner
  • 2800 mAh battery
  • 5.2″ LCD Display @ 720p (720×1280)
  • Water-repellent coating
  • FM Radio
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • 150 g/5.29 oz.

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As you can tell by those specs, this phone is not very powerful, but for its price, $149 CAD, it is a phone you could stomach replacing a few months down the road if it gets damaged.

Performance

The Moto e5 play was willing and ready to keep up, despite being considerably underpowered. The performance was quite wonderful actually, but I had to do some prep-work to ensure that my time with the phone was positive and not a complete nightmare.

The first “hack” to get the most out of my e5 play experience was to turn the animations down or in some cases, off completely. To do this, and I recommend you do it even on a flagship phone, follow these steps:

  1. Open Settings
  2. Scroll to System
  3. Open About phone
  4. Tap on Build number until an onscreen message says you are now a developer
  5. Press back key
  6. Select Developer options
  7. Scroll about 3/4 down the screen and locate the following
    1. Window animator scale
    2. Transition animator scale
    3. Animator duration scale
  8. Turn Window and Transition to off
  9. Turn Animator duration to 0.5x.

Making this change will take your experience on any phone from being good to great. On a device like the e5 play, it takes it from sufferable to enjoyable. Which for the $150 CAD price point, is pretty good.

 One other note on performance. I would highly recommend, if you’re considering this phone for yourself or someone else, look at downloading “lite” or “go” apps such as Twitter Lite, Facebook Lite and the various apps from Google under the “Go” moniker such as Maps Go, Gmail Go and others. These apps use less battery, less data and overall are less of a drain on system resources. You can expect to see a lot more apps like this as Progressive Web Apps take over in the next year or so.

The Camera

The camera sensor on the e5 play is the same sensor Motorola used in the g6 play, and as I explained in my G6 vs. G6 Play comparison, the camera on the g6 play is acceptable to use in most cases and is able to hold its own when the lighting conditions are correct. Long story short; the e5 play’s camera is going to be just fine if you’re thinking this would be a great starter phone for your a kid/teen.

Have a look for yourself. These shots were taken on auto with the e5 play stock camera app.

Build Quality

The e5 play is made entirely fro plastic, minus the screen of course. Some may love this, while others may cringe at the thought of a plastic phone. But remember, this phone costs just over $100 CAD and is positioned in the heart of the low-end smartphone category. 

The phone actually felt quite solid in my hand and unless I really thought about it, I hardly noticed the plastic feel. 

Battery Life

Battery life on the Moto e5 play was about average. Getting through the day was pretty easy for the most part, but there were a few days where I had to find a charger before days end. These days were few, but I would be pretty safe to assume, of this was given to a kid to use, they would chew through the 2800 mAh battery pretty quickly. Thankfully, Motorola, despite cutting a lot of features from this device compared to the g-series, included quick charging, making it relatively painless to charge while on the go.  

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Should You Buy The Moto E5 Play?

If you’re looking for a phone for your kid, want to have a spare just on case or simply don’t have the money to drop on anything elaborate, then yes, give the e5 play some consideration. It performs well enough for the price and despite that plastic body, holds up pretty well. However, if you’re looking for something that gets you a bit closer to the mid-range, I’d also consider devices like the g6 and g6 play, both are still relatively inexpensive compared to a flagship level phone like a Google Pixel or Samsung Galaxy S9 but punch well above their weight class. 

Moto G6 vs. Moto G6 Play: Which Should You Buy

Motorola has released a fresh lineup of moto g phones, the moto g6, g6 play and g6 plus. The g6 and g6 play are the only two available here in Canada. How do they compare to each other? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out!

 Left: moto g6, Right: moto g6 play
Left: moto g6, Right: moto g6 play

I’ve been spending time with the new moto g6 phones for a little over a month now. I put the moto g6 through a full review and was blown away by how well it performed and despite being underpowered on paper, barely skipped a beat during testing.

Read: Motorola moto g6 Review

Along with the moto g6, Motorola also sent along the moto g6 play, which packs a little less overall power but does sport a 4,000 mAh battery, a 25% bump to the battery found in the moto g6. Rather than put the moto g6 play through the same review process, I felt it more beneficial to compare how the two perform against each other.

The Brass Tacks – Spec Comparision

On paper, neither of these phones look like they are capable of much as far as performance is concerned. So which one should you spend your hard earned cash on? Let’s find out!

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The Case For The Moto G6

The moto g6 proper feels and looks like a proper smartphone in 2018. It’s display panel, yes only 1080p, will not blow you away but it is easy on the eyes (and battery) and the 18:9 aspect ratio looks really good on the device. The g6 play, despite rocking the 18:9 display comes in at only 720p, and you can really notice it when scrolling through Twitter, Instagram or watching videos on YouTube.

The g6 will takes the points for RAM and storage capacity. My review unit, 3 GB RAM and 32 GB storage performed great and the higher end 4 GB/64 GB option pushes that even further.

The g6 also gets points for being lighter than its more playful counterpart. Albeit, only 8 grams, every little bit counts.

 The fingerprint scanner may be in the wrong place, but moto did a great job making it useful.
The fingerprint scanner may be in the wrong place, but moto did a great job making it useful.

The fingerprint sensor is located on the front of the g6, which I personally do not like, but Motorola has done something very clever to makes its placement much more tolerable. In my review, I commented about Motorola enhancing the user experience thanks to its suite of Moto actions. With the fingerprint scanner being pill-shaped, users can turn off the on-screen navigation keys and use swipe gestures in place of traditional back and multitasking buttons. once I discovered this feature I put my Pixel XL back in the drawer and went back to g6 as a daily driver for a period and really enjoyed the gestures. Android 9.0 is going to have gesture-based navigation, so using it on the moto g6 was a sort of prep-session for what is to come later this year from Google.

The dual-camera on the g6 also gives you the portrait-mode function traditionally reserved for flagship devices. It misses more than it hits, but at the very least, it is there for when the conditions permit it to work effectively. The g6’s camera has a few other neat tricks too. Check out my moto g6 review for more on those features.

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The Case For The Moto G6 Play

On paper and in practice the g6 play is outperformed by the g6 proper thanks to its faster processor, more RAM and, a slightly better camera. However, there is a case to pick the g6 play over its more powerful sibling.

The battery on the g6 play clocks in at 4,000 mAh, which is 25% larger than the g6. In my time with the g6 play, I could easily get through 2 days of moderate to heavy use and still have around 10% battery left before finding a charger.

I mentioned above that the g6 play suffered from only having a 720p display, but depending on what your use case is, the 720p screen, which requires considerably less power than higher resolution displays. If you are looking for a phone that is primarily for email, SMS, web browsing but still has the ability to watch videos or disappear down an Instagram-sized rabbit hole when needed picking the g6 play or the g6 is a no-brainer.

The fingerprinter scanner is in its proper mid-rear position, where all finer-printer scanners belong (don’t @ me either, you know I am right!, @gadgetsyrup or @barryweston on Twitter if you do feel compelled to @ me!). You do not have the cool swipe gestures with the rear implementation, but the batwing Motorola logo is inside the scanner this time, something I have been begging Motorola to do since the Moto X was released!

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Conclusion

Both the g6 and g6 play ship with the same Android 8.0 version, both benefit from Motorola’s powerful suite of Moto Actions and Moto Display, and both are incredibly well-built for the price.

Making the decision really comes down to what you value more. Higher performance, a crispier display and better cameras? Or, do you value battery life and more simple design? The choice is yours!

Moto G6 Review: The Best Mid-Range Phone You Can Buy (2018)

Before the original Moto G, mid-range phones were hardly even an afterthought for most users. The Moto G changed all that and opened the floodgates for device makers to start showing that you do not need to have flagship specs and pricing to give customers a great smartphone experience.

After years of dominating the mid-range market the last years, Moto G5 was more or less a flop, so expectations are understandably low with the release of the g6 this year.

Check out my review of the moto g6. Can Motorola return to the top of the heap in the mid-range game?

Before the original Moto G, mid-range phones were hardly even an afterthought for most users. The Moto G changed all that and opened the floodgates for device makers to start showing that you do not need to have flagship specs and pricing to give customers a great smartphone experience.

After years of dominating the mid-range market the last years, Moto G5 was more or less a flop, so expectations are understandably low with the release of the g6 this year.

Read on for the full review of the moto g6 from Lenovo. 

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What’s In The Box?

 What was in the box? Was it what we thought it was? 
What was in the box? Was it what we thought it was? 

Inside the box was a nostalgic surprise. I keychain version of Motorola’s DynaTAC 8000X, celebrating the 45 year anniversary of Motorola’s first cellular phone.

Following that you find your standard in-box items.

  • moto g6
  • USB Type C cable
  • Motorola Turbo Charger
  • Quick start guide
  • SIM removal tool 

Review Device Specifications

The g6 is a mid-range phone so these specs are not likely to get you too excited but remember, this device retails for $250 USD or $350 CAD.

  • 5.7″ IPS LCD display at 1080 x 2260 and 424 ppi
  • Gorilla Glass 3
  • Qualcomm™ Snapdragon™ 450 chipset
  • Octa-core 1.8 GHz Cortex-A53 CPU
  • Adreno 506 GPU
  • 3000 mAh battery
  • 32 GB storage (plus 265 GB more via micro SD card slot)
  • 3 GB RAM
  • 12MP + 5MP dual-camera on the back
  • 8MP front-facing camera
  • Front-side fingerprint scanner
  • Headphone jack (yes, this is documented as a feature on most devices today)
  • Android 8.0 Oreo

Design & Build Quality

 Do you see it too? The camera module looks like a surprised robot!
Do you see it too? The camera module looks like a surprised robot!

The moto g6 is a mid-range device, but at a glance, it looks like a more premium device. The g6 is constructed of plastic, but until you actually pick it up, it almost has an all-glass look to it. The first two things I noticed after handling the device for a few minutes after unboxing was how much of a fingerprint magnet the device is and also how slippery out was too. I’ve nearly dropped the g6 dozens of times. I understand the idea of giving the device a faux premium look, but I’d also rather the device be made of a more tactile material. 

The overall design, however, is still quite pleasing. Sporting the more modern 18:9 aspect ratio and a 5.7″ IPS display. It is nice to see moto using this screen ratio even on lower-end phones. 

Software

When Motorola released the first Moto X one of the biggest standouts was its nearly stock Android experience. Sitting the device next to a Nexus device showed that Motorola wanted the experience to be as clean as possible. The only additions to the vanilla Android install were the addition of Motorola’s suite of enhancements such as Moto Voice and Moto Actions. Moto voice allowed for always-on passive listening of the Moto X microphone which allowed users to call out ‘OK Google” from anywhere in the room, and Google Assistant, then known as Google Now, would wake up and start listing. Over time this evolved and allowed users to use any name to wake the device. For me, with my Moto X, 2014 and my Moto Z, 2016 I went full nerd and changed the wake command to OK Friday. Friday is the AI assistant to Tony Stark, that replaced Jarvis when he took from as Vision in Avengers: Age of Ultron, but you already knew that (if you didn’t, shame!). Moto Actions, on the other hand, allows you to do things like twist the phone to open the camera app or perform a double chop action to turn on the flashlight. These add-ons do not take away from the visuals but add to the UX of the phone. Very worthwhile.

Motorola has continued to update and support the moto suite of tools on the moto g6 family of phones, however, there is one limitation. You cannot change the wake command from “OK Google” to your own selection. This is a minor thing for most I am sure, but perhaps my favourite feature of Motorola phones since the original Moto X in 2013 was the ability to change that wake command to anything you like. Deal break no, but disappointing still.

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As for the overall software experience on the moto, g performance is really good. Running Android 8.0 Oreo, I was really happy with how well it performed. Coming from a Google Pixel XL, which despite its own gremlins, performs near perfect in most cases, I had very low expectations for the g6 and its Snapdragon™ 450 chipset. 

There are noticeable performance differences when compare against the Pixel XL, but in nearly every use case I put the g6 through, it performed admirably. Even light gaming on the g6 was possible. Running Real Racing 3 did lead to some slow down, for sure, but it was not unplayable. Most of my gameplay was limited to Motorsport Manager 2 because I am a major Formula 1 fan, and that game had zero issues running, in fact, it performed better than my Pixel XL does in some cases with this game.

One note I should point out though. Any phone I have, regardless of its spec sheet, I always enable developer options and turn the animation settings from 1X to 0.5X speed. Animations are nice, but for me, performance and overall speed is king.

Long story short, you won’t be disappointed by the performance of the moto g6 in nearly every scenario.

Display

The g6 also brings back the full “Motorola” name on the device, dropping the shortened “moto”.

As I mentioned the moto g6 sports an 18:9 screen ratio with a resolution of 1080 x 2160, so still standard Full HD, and that is fine for me, and likely for most people who would consider a g6 when making a smartphone selection. Compared to my 2016 Moto X which is running at 1080 x 1920, this display looks light years ahead as far as clarity is concerned.

The real downfall of the display is its colour saturation. Colours tend to look washed out and dull. This is amplified further when you take the device out on a sunny day. The screen is nearly impossible to see in bright light making tasks like checking email or even taking pictures a challenge. 

Overall, I would say the display may be the weakest point of the moto g6, but not enough to scare me away from it.

Battery

Compared to most phones on the market today, the 3000 mAh battery packed inside the moto g6 is pretty standard. And thanks to its low-powered CPU used by Motorola getting “all-day” battery life as marketed by Motorola was very easy. On heavy use days where there was a lot of camera use, Waze and some gaming I still found that the battery had between 15 and 20% battery left after being off the charger for about 16 hours and not topping up during the day. On light use days, I could have easily left the phone off the charger at night, but that’s not my thing, so I would top it off while I slept each night.

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Camera

Running a Snapdragon™ 450 had me thinking we were going to be diving into a world of blurry and grainy photos. While this is no Google Pixel or Samsung Galaxy S9, I am happy to report that camera on the g6 isn’t horrible. Would I say it is good? Sure, in a lot of conditions, the camera on g6 is good, maybe even very good, but as you may expect, low-light conditions lead to some poor to horrible quality images.

 Ready to form Voltron! Activate interlocks! Dyna-therms connected. Infra-cells up; mega-thrusters are go!
Ready to form Voltron! Activate interlocks! Dyna-therms connected. Infra-cells up; mega-thrusters are go!

My normal camera use on any smartphone, during a review or not, is a fairly solid mix of daytime shots, both inside and outside. I took the g6 to a wedding during the review period as a test. Generally, at a wedding, you will have an excellent mix of shooting conditions over the course of the event. Early on, during the ceremony, I was really pleased with the shots I was getting and was even trying to convince myself that I could get away with not touching my Pixel once. However, by the time the dinner and reception came along, I found my Pixel was in my hand far more often than the g6. Pictures taken during the reception were grainy and blurry. It is worth noting though that colour reproduction was actually pretty close to the Pixel when the g6 was able to get the shot right. The problem is, the camera missed more often than it hit. 

The g6 does support portrait mode thanks to its dual-camera setup and it works fairly well. It does suffer though from the common problems seen with other portrait mode implementations that are not Google’s on the Pixel. The edges of images tend to end up blurry or fuzzy, which makes the whole image look pretty poor. Again, comparing to my Pixel XL, the portrait mode does stand up and I have not used it in cases where I would always select portrait mode over a regular shot.

  “I have a plan: ATTACK.” – Tony Stark
 “I have a plan: ATTACK.” – Tony Stark

With portrait mode being a bit of a letdown, I was looking forward to using another fun party trick the g6 camera has to offer. Selective colour, which allows you to tap anywhere within the viewfinder and have only that colour shown. All other parts of the image will be greyscaled, as you can see here with Iron Man.

I’m of two minds with the g6 when considering the camera. The speed and performance were way ahead of where I was expecting, and in most cases, the shots I got were not far off my Pixel, but when the sun went down I was let down frequently. Yes, being a Pixel owner does make it hard to look at other cameras seriously.

Should You Buy The moto g6?

Considering the long run of success Motorola has had with the g-series of mid-range smartphones, how well the g6 performed during my time with it and the price point of $250 USD or $350 CAD I would be very confident in recommending this phone to most users. If you are a spec-head power user who needs to have the latest and greatest a smartphone can offer you, then Google and Samsung would be happy to take your money, OnePlus as well. However, if top-shelf specs are not at the top of your wish list and you are looking for a well-built reliable phone that will offer a good user experience and not break the bank, look no further than the moto g6, you won’t be disappointed.

The g6 should see wider availability soon, but as of this review, the only carrier that the has it available is Videotron in Quebec for $349.95 CAD outright or $55.95 on a 2-year plan.

If you’re looking to purchase the g6 unlocked, you can pick it up on Amazon for as low as $379.94.

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Further Motorola Reading

I have been spending a lot of time with Motorola hardware of late. Be sure to check out my Moto Mod reviews as well!

Motorola Insta-Share Projector Mod Review

Polaroid Insta-Share Printer Mod Review

What do you think of the moto g6? Could it be your next smartphone? I’d like to hear from you in the comments or drop me an email.

Moto Z3 (Potential) Leaks!

The Moto Z line of phones have been some of the most polarizing Motorola has ever released. The original Z, released in 2016 featured an ultra-thin design, no headphone jack, USB-C connectivity and most notable, the ability to attach “Moto Mods” which gave users the ability to attach various “modules” to the back of the smartphone such as a battery, speaker, print or projector.

Users were skeptical if this design would stick, but Motorola committed to at least three years of this design language and support for mods.

This week we have seek a significant leak that appears to show Lenovo is sticking to its word and will be announcing the Moto Z3 soon, with mod support. Check out the leaks!

The Moto Z line of phones have been some of the most polarizing Motorola has ever released. The original Z, released in 2016 featured an ultra-thin design, no headphone jack, USB-C connectivity and most notably, the ability to attach “Moto Mods” which gave users the ability to attach various “modules” to the back of the smartphone such as a battery, speaker, print or projector.

Users were skeptical if this design would stick, but Motorola committed to at least three years of this design language and support for mods. I recently reviewed two of the most interesting mods, the Insta-Share Projector and the Polaroid Insta-Share Printer. Be sure to check those out!

This week we have seen a significant leak that appears to show Lenovo is sticking to its word and will be announcing the Moto Z3 Play soon, with mod support. Check out the leaks below!

Here are the expected specifications for the Moto Z3 Play

  • Snapdragon 636 Chipset
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 32GB or 64GB of storage (likely SD expansion too)
  • 6″ display at 2160×1080 (18:9 ratio)
  • Dual-cameras, 12MP and 8MP

Looking at the leaked images of the Moto Z3 Play, the most notable difference with this years Z3 design is the absence of the front-facing fingerprint scanner. Manufacturers that are seeking the full-screen device are moving the fingerprint scanner to the back like OnePlus did recently.

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However, the leaked images of the back-side of the device do not show a fingerprint scanner there either. If the leaked reports are correct it looks like Motorola is taking the fingerprint scanner to the side of the device as part of the power button, not dissimilar to the likes of Sony and the Nextbit Robin of a few years ago.

Circling back to the specs, I expect that there will be a version of the Z3 that has a flagship level CPU like the Snapdragon 845, so do not be put off completely from the Z line if the 636 doesn’t get you excited. It is worth noting though, that the 6xx series of Snapdragon CPU’s is very efficient and is more than powerful enough to get through most situations.

I’m optimistic for the coming release of the Z3 Play and its siblings. I’ve really enjoyed the Z series and the mods available. My biggest concern is the camera. This has been Motorola’s weakest point with nearly every phone released, and the 6xx CPU isn’t best-known image signal processing (ISP), so I am going to temper my expectations.

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Stay tuned for more on the Moto Z3 Play over the coming weeks, as I am positive more details will continue to trickle out ahead of the official announcement!

Also, keep your eyes on GadgetSyrup for my Moto g6 review coming in the next few weeks!

Update : There is also rumored to he four different bundles for the Z3 Play. A battery mod bundle, style bundle with a decorative back cover, gamepad bundle with a gaming controller mod and a projector bundle with the Insta-Share Projector mod.

Motorola Moto Mod Polaroid Insta-Share Printer Review

Check out my latest review! The Polaroid Insta-Share Printer Mod for the Moto Z-series.

I recently reviewed the Motorola Insta-Share Projector. I went into the review with a lot of skepticism, thinking that this was nothing more than an overpriced gimmick that would be sure to end up in a drawer, never to be seen again. However, after using the projector a handful of times I was amazed at how fun and useful the projector was. My kids really enjoyed watching movies on it, and my wife and I are planning on bringing this on camping trips this summer to set up an outdoor movie theatre at night. 

When Motorola sent over the Insta-Share projector, they also sent along another Moto Mod, the Polaroid Insta-Share printer. This mod, like its siblings, clamps onto the back of any current Moto Z phone and through the use of a dedicated app, prints off 2×3 pictures on a special zero-ink paper, otherwise known as “Zink”. The prints also have an adhesive backing so you can print stick them anywhere you like if that’s your thing.

What’s In The Box?

 Hi, Brad...
Hi, Brad…

The printer ships alone with no cables, but does come with a starter pack of 10 sheets of paper to get you going, and slip of paper advising you how to load the paper.

I would have liked to see Motorola/Polaroid include a USB A to C cable to make charging easier, but you can use the USB-C charger from your Moto Z to charge the built-in mod battery.

 

 

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What I Liked

The “Concept”

I really like the idea of this printer, having the ability to print any picture, any time and put it anywhere. The immediacy factor of being able to produce prints at home and on the go is a big selling point, especially if you’re looking to print off simple fun photos that you would otherwise just be sharing on Instagram. The quality of the prints will not be “photo lab” quality, but that is not the point. This printer is really geared towards a younger age group, so the ability to print the photos and pass them around is far and away more important than the quality of the image. Another potential use case for this printer would be people working in digital marketing. You, as a social media coordinator, are at an event snapping away for followers on Instagram and Twitter. Pull this mod out and spit out a few snaps for your followers on the ground at the event. Some niche uses for sure, but practical uses if it suits your business. I’m a big Formula 1 fan, and the digital marketing teams for each race team are some of the best out there. I could totally see them getting use of this over the course of a race weekend. Candid shots of the cars, fans, drivers, etc. Print these off, maybe grab an autograph from a driver or two and stick it to a fan, literally.

The Form Factor

The share of the printer gives the Moto Z phone the feel of a more traditional camera, shutter button and all. For years I used the Nokia Lumia 1020, which is arguably the most iconic phone camera of all time. One the things that made the Lumia 1020 so great, aside from the sheer power of the 41mp camera, was its snap on or dare I say “modular” camera grip. The Insta-Share printer almost brings that classic feel back, and I really like that. The only problem with the shutter button is that it is a single click only. It does not have a half-press to focus function like traditional camera shutter buttons.

The overall size is pretty good too considering this mod has a printer, paper storage and a 500 mAh battery housed inside. Keep in mind though, that the paper tray only holds 10 sheets at a time.

Consumables

 20, 30 and, 50 packs from Amazon.ca
20, 30 and, 50 packs from Amazon.ca

I was expecting the Zink paper to be very hard to come by and very expensive. However, I was happy to see that you can purchase the Zink paper from Amazon in 20, 30 and, 50packs. This is the same paper used in several other Polaroid products, which helps. If the consumables were not readily available, the printer would be dead on arrival.

What I Did Not Like

The Price

I’m not expecting Motorola to give this device away (well they were giving away many mods, including the Insta-Share Projector), but I am also not expecting that people will want to buy it for the price it is being sold for. Originally, the Insta-Share printer was selling for $199.99 USD and has recently seen a drop to $149.99 on the Motorola US site. Now, $150 is not an incredible sum of money, but relating to traditional printers, you can get them for next to nothing since the consumables are so expensive and high margin. In this case, the consumables are expensive/high margin and the device is also expensive. 

The Battery

The mod comes with a 500 mAh battery, which is required to use the mod. When the mod was connected to my Moto Z (2016 version) it would not print if the mods battery was empty. This is a peripheral, that if I am being honest, will not be used very often. If it sits for too long between uses, the battery seems to drain to zero. When I picked it up to print some samples for this review, I found that I had to charge the mod battery for a while before being allowed to print. It also charges very slow from what I can tell. Not a major deal breaker, but an unnecessary annoyance either way.

Proprietary App

This, I think, is my biggest gripe with this mod. For reasons unknown, you can only send prints via the Polaroid Insta-Share Pinter App. In the Android world, we’re usually pretty spoiled by the various ways in which you can share from app to app or service to service with little to no hoops to jump through. Not the case here; you are stuck with this less than ideal app.

What I would have expected, was giving users the ability to print from the Moto Camera app. Yes, the device is a Polaroid, but it is still a Moto Mod, and I would have expected the printer to work seamlessly with Moto’s own imaging software. From within the app, you can print photos directly from Google Photos, Instagram and, Facebook which is great, but I would have expected to be able to initiate a print via Android’s robust share menu. You can share to almost any app/service via the share menu. Being able to click the share icon from any app and have the Insta-Share printer be an option seems like a no-brainer to me.

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Should You Buy This?

It’s complicated…

The printer mod is very well built, performs well and the print quality is passable, but not by any means outstanding. Therefore, unless you have a very specific use case that will enable you to use the printer frequently, I would give this a pass. If you want to buy it as a nice to have to use at Christmas sort of thing, I do not think you would get your money worth out of it. We upgrade our phones frequently in this day and age, so investing in a mod you may use a few times a year isn’t ideal. There are a lot of other great mods out there I would pick over the printer for most people.

BUT, if you fit one of those niche use cases, like the digital marketer example I used, this mod is right in your wheel-house and pairing it with a Moto Z could be a very worthwhile investment.

You can purchase the Moto Mod Polaroid Insta-Share Printer from Motorola directly. Check it out by clicking the link below.

Motorola USA

Motorola Canada

What do you think about the Polaroid Insta-Share Printer or Moto Mods in general? I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to comment below!

Motorola Continues To “Push Boundaries” Announcing The Moto G6 and E5

Five years ago Motorola surprised us all with the launches of the Moto G and E series of phones. They were incredibly well built, very pleasant to use and were incredibly affordable. 

Now, Moto has announced the release of the next generation G and E phones. Check them out!

The focus of the Moto G and E series of phones was to address a gap in the smartphone market that saw incredibly powerful high-end phones at the top and incredibly low-powered and low-quality phones on the bottom of the market.

Moto wanted to fill the gap in the middle with well built, well-performing smartphones that were reasonably priced. The mission they set out on seemed a bit far-fetched given the recent misses the company had prior to the launch of their mid-rangers.

Enter the Moto G and, well, the rest, they say, is history. As we now know, the Moto G quickly became the best selling smartphone in Motorola history. Year over year Moto has refreshed this lineup, as well as the lower-end E line, and despite not outselling the original, the G and E series impress users and reviews alike with each iteration.

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Now Moto has announced and released the latest members of the G and E series with the launch of the moto g6 and e5. There are actually several flavors of each the g and g line. They are as follows:

  • moto g6: starting at $249 MSRP

  • moto g6 play: starting at $199 MSRP

  • moto e5 plus: pricing dependant on carrier

  • moto e5 play: pricing dependant on carrier

  • moto g6 plus and moto e5 also released, but not to North America

All devices will be launching with Android™ 8.0, Oreo™ and are packed with different versions of Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ processors.

I won’t cover off the specs of each phone, as reviews of select G6 and E5 devices will be coming shortly but will share a few highlights I am looking forward too with some of these phones.

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Play All Day

The “Play” version of the G6 comes with a huge 4000mAh battery that powers the Snapdragon™ 427 processor. That battery and SoC combo are going to be capable of some incredible endurance. According to Motorola, you can expect to get up to 36 hrs of on a single charge. Obviously, your mileage will vary based on your use, but leaving the house for the day sans charger and battery pack will not be a problem. Don’t expect to be gaming on this type of device, however. The Snapdragon™ 427 isn’t going to be capable of much here.

What makes this device even more compelling, battery life aside is its price. The moto g6 play will set you back only $199 USD. Learn more about the moto g6 play HERE.

Not available in North America, the moto e5 should be an excellent consideration for those in Europe Asia. The e5 battery pack dwarfs that of the g6, coming in at 5000 mAh. Not mention it has a 6″ display as well, so multimedia use with this phone should be a strong selling point.

Camera Improvements, Hopefully

Moto phones do so much right, the software additions provided through various “moto actions” such as a twisting your wrist to opening the camera, a double-chop for the flashlight and moto voice functions allowing you to program any hot-word you like to access Google Assitant (I use “Okay Friday”, because I am giant nerd) making their devices some of the most compelling devices on the market. However, the biggest reason they are overlooked by most power users and tech-types is the less than wonderful camera experience. 

With the moto g6 and g6 plus (not play) come packing dual camera setups and software that hopes to get these devices noticed on store shelves. Having a dual-lens setup will allow for features like selective focus to be implemented. A niche, but handy feature to have when the situation suits.

I should also mention, the moto g6 is priced incredibly well, like those before it, and starts at only $249 USD.

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What do you think of Motorola’s latest offerings? Have you ever owned a g or e series phone? 

You can learn more about all upcoming moto g6 and e5 series phones on the Motorola Blog. Check them out! 

Motorola Moto Mod Insta-Share Projector Review

Check out the GadgetSyrup Review of the Motorola Mod InstaShare Projector.

I pint sized projector that snaps onto the back of your phone!

Motorola was kind enough to send over a few Moto mods to test drive with the Moto Z I have on hand. 

If you’re not familiar with the Moto Mod concept, it is Motorola’s take on the modular phone, allowing you to snap various different modular devices to the back of any one of Motorola’s Z series phones. 

The mods range from very simple mods like a faux-wood grain back cover to a $300+ Hasselblad camera with 10 X optical zoom.

One of the Mods I have been using over the past few weeks has been the Motorola Insta-Share Projector.

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Specs: 

  • 50 Lumens
  • 480, up to 70″ screen size
  • 1100 mAh battery with USB C
  • 10,000 lamp hours
  • 125g in weight

Those specs won’t blow most, actually any, other projectors out of the water. But that’s not the goal. The value-proposition of being able to snap this projector to the back of your phone and instantly have 70″ projection screen is what really stands out. Much like printing photos on your ink-jet printer at home compared to taking them to photo lab. At home, it will be lower quality, but the immediacy of being able to print them right away, rather than wait is a major benefit. The projector mod also comes with a handy carrying case to keep it protected when on the go.

How does it work?

The Insta-Share projector, like all Moto Mods, connects to the back of any Moto Z series phone via a combination of magnets and contact pins. The magnets hold the mod in place, while the contact pins allow for data transfer between the mod and the phone.

To use the projector, there is a power button to the right of the projector lens which turns it on or off. Once powered, the focus of the projector is controlled by a jog wheel to the left of the lens. 

The projector, once powered, automatically displays the image from the display of your phone. No extra intervention is needed. Simply connect the mod and power it on.

The mod, thankfully, charges overs USB C connection, which is welcomed since the Moto Z also charges over USB C.

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Is it any good?

Surprisingly, yes! The first time I snapped the projector on the back of my Moto Z I was ready for a grainy, dull mess but, I was blown away by just how good the picture was. The brightness was better than expected, clarity was much higher than expected and on top of it, the ease of use was incredible.

The mods 1100 mAh battery is rated to provide up to an hour of projection time before your phone battery takes over and starts to drain. In my use of the projector so far, it does not even come close to that 1-hour rating. Within 30 or so minutes the projector battery was depleted and the phone’s battery started draining, fast!

The build quality was rather impressive too. When fitted to the phone, the mod feels like it belongs there. The buttons are tactile and responsive. The kickstand provides excellent resistance, keeping the phone at any desired angle and also stays secure when close thanks to a few magnets.

 

Why would you want this?

It really comes down to the immediacy factor of being able to pull the projector out and fire up a video on the spot. My wife and I have 3 small children. When you’re on the go and need them to stop climbing the walls for a few minutes, pulling the projector from your bag and snapping it to the phone makes them stop dead in their tracks and suddenly are sitting cross-legged waiting for the video to start.

I guess you could say the mod is nothing more than a cool party trick or instant child tamer, but until you have used it and experienced the versatility of the Moto Mod eco-system, you cannot really appreciate how useful and fun they can be.

Should you buy this? 

Before even considering the mod itself, you have to ask yourself if Motorola it’s the right ecosystem for you in general. Motorola does an excellent job of keeping Android as vanilla as possible while also making great improvements with utilities like Moto-Voice and Moto-Actions, but they tend to be very slow with OS updates. My Moto Z is still stuck on Android 7.1 Nougat, while Google is full steam ahead on Android P development.

If you can live with Motorola shortcomings and after intrigued by the mod ecosystem, I’d absolutely recommend the Insta-Share Projector. The price tag, however, may deter you. When launched this mod retailed for around $400. It has been heavily discounted, but will still set you back $224.99.

For me, I have always enjoyed Motorola’s phones, but their camera tech has always considerably subpar, driving more towards the likes of the Google Pixel. With add-ons like the Mods, however, I may consider giving Moto a go as my daily driver. That does hinge on if Moto doubles down on mods beyond their 3-year commitment, or decides to retire the form factor after the Moto Z3.

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What did you think of the Insta-Share Projector? Is it enough to make you consider the Moto Z line of phones? I’d love to hear what you have to say, so feel free to comment down below!

Moto Mods – “Modify Your Smartphone”

Motorola was kind enough to send along a few Moto Mods to test drive with the Moto Z2 Play that they have also sent for review. Check out the Moto Insta-Share Projector and the Polaroid Insta-Share Printer!

In 2016 Motorola made a splash when they launched their Moto Z line of phones which come with a unique ultra-thin design with an array of exposed pins on the back which allow you to connect various members of Motorola’s “Mod” family of devices. Their success to date has been debatable since many “mods” are targeted to very niche audiences. 


What Are Moto Mods?

As I mentioned above, the Moto Mods are attachable devices that allow users to augment or modify their phones functionality by connecting via magnets and pogo pins to the back of any Moto Z phone model. At the time of this article, there are currently seven members of the Motorola Z line, released over two years. We will see more Moto Z branded phones in 2018 as well since Motorola committed to supporting the Moto Z design-language for at least 3 years, perhaps longer (depending on how well Moto has done with mods).


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Meet The Mods

Motorola was kind enough to send over two mods to test out and see how they perform. I will be diving into a full review of the mods once I take delivery of the Moto Z2 Play, which is currently in-transit.

First up, we have the Moto Insta-Share Projector mod. This mod, as all mods do, snaps onto the back of your phone and instantly turns your phone into a multimedia projector capable of projecting the equivalent of a 70″ screen on any flat surface.

The resolution is not incredibly high, coming in at WGA, which is 854×480. Otherwise referred to as 480p. The contrast ratio is 400:1 and the brightness is listed at 50 lumens. The Insta-Share Projector will set you back about $200 (USD). Compare that to a middle of the road Epson projector selling for $800 at Best Buy (Canada) it is no match. The Epson is capable of full HD 1080p resolution, 15000:1 contrast ratio and 3100 lumens. It’s no match, clearly. But the Insta-Share snaps to your phone and weighs only 125 grams, to the Epson’s 5.95 kg.

The projector also comes with a small built-in battery which gives your phone an extra hour of battery life according to Motorola and can be recharged via USB-C.

The amount of use the average person may get out of a projector is perhaps minimal, but it is a pretty handy accessory.



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The second mod I received is perhaps even more niche than the projector. The Polaroid Insta-Share Printer mod is a zero-ink printer (ZINK™) that prints 2″x3″ photos with an adhesive backing that allows you to “stick them anywhere to share the fun.” The printer mod does have a camera shutter button, which is an excellent add-on and takes me back to the good old days when I carried the Lumia 1020 and Lumia 1520 which, like most Windows Phones, had a physical shutter button.

It is also worth noting that the printer can print any photo stored on your phone, but just recent shots from your gallery. As mentioned, the printer is a zero-ink, so you never need to replace an ink cartridge at all. The only consumable is the zero-ink paper. Included with the mod is a starter pack of 10 sheets. Replacement ZINK™ packs come are available in 20 and 30 packs for $9.99 and $14.99 (USD) respectively. On the low end, you are looking at $0.50 per print. Comparing that to Costco Photo, which is $0.12 per 4×6 print, the printer mod is extremely expensive to print from, so you will need to use it sparingly.

Like the projector, the printer also contains a small battery and charges over USB-C.



Overall I think the Moto Mod ecosystem is very fun and exciting, these two mods included. I look forward to putting through their paces over the next few weeks.

Stay tuned for the full review shortly!

Add QI Wireless Charging To (Almost) Any Phone

Qi wireless charging has been around for several years now. However, most phones, flagships included have chosen to skip adding the feature to their devices each year until Apple invented the technology when they announced the newest iPhone, the iPhone X. With such a limited supply of Qi enable phones accessory makers have begun to fill in the void left by the manufacturers by creating USB-connected Qi wireless dongles.

Check out this review of the Nillkin Qi Wireless USB-C Charging Receiver.

Qi wireless charging has been around for several years now. However, most phones, flagships included, have chosen to skip adding the feature to their devices each year until Apple invented the technology when they announced the newest iPhone. With such a limited supply of Qi enable phones accessory makers have begun to fill in the void left by the manufacturers by creating USB-connected Qi wireless dongles.


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What Is It?

The Nillkin Qi Wireless Receiver is a small, approximately 2.5 x 1.5-inch, dongle that connects to the USB C port of your USB C enabled smartphone, in my case, the Google Pixel XL. There are also micro USB versions of this dongle available as well (links below).


What I Liked

Well, the product itself worked as expected, so it is safe to say I liked that. Nillkin states that this dongle charges at ≥70% efficiency.

Other than basic functionality being reliable, which is always a gamble with third-party devices like this, the USB C connection was very snug. Several USB C cables I have tried with my Pixel have been very sloppy and easily disconnected. This connection did not suffer from the same problems as others.



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What I Didn’t Like

I am not sure if there is a way around this, but the bulk added to the Pixel when placed back in its Spigen case made the phone look chunky and added a bit too much wobble when lying on a flat surface.

I also particularly disliked the USB C connector. Wait, what? Didn’t I just praise the USB C connector? Yes, but I dislike it sure to one major issue. Nillkin touts how thin and low profile this dongle is. However, the USB connector is so unnecessarily large it makes it really impossible to put a case on the phone without stretching it out. I can get past this with my particular case, but any dual layer hybrid-shell design will struggle to install this dongle in any usable fashion.



Should You Buy It?

In a word. No. If you’re looking for wireless charging, make that a top priority for your next phone. This solution is proven to be a workable solution but it is far from elegant and the pros simply do not outweigh the cons.


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Nillkin Qi USB C Dongle on Amazon.ca.

Nillkin Qi USB C Dongle on Amazon.com.

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