Motorola says Moto Z3’s Mod is the ‘finest’ 5G platform. I disagree

Motorola can boast about making the primary industrial telephone operating on a dwell 5G community, however I would guess cash that the satisfaction stops there. The Moto Z3 with its 5G Moto Mod could also be an actual telephone you should buy for an actual 5G community, however its cumbersome magnetic attachment for a midprice telephone is not the best way you wish to use 5G. 

I might know as a result of the Moto Z3, 5G Mod and I had been inseparable for six hours this week as I examined Verizon’s new child 5G community in downtown Chicago. All through the day, the Moto Z3 and Mod hitched a trip in my purse, or protruded from my coat pocket, its thick “fin” a beacon drawing down 5G sign from above.

“We have seen experiences with some actually good speeds and positively we have seen good speeds in our consumer trials as effectively,” mentioned Doug Michau, Motorola’s head of product operations for North America once we spoke over the telephone. 

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This Moto Z3 was capable of pull down speeds upward of 600Mbps, and though the getup works, it is kludgy at finest. The 5G Moto Mod is thick and heavy. You connect it magnetically and pins shuffle info and the info connection from the Mod, which has a Snapdragon 855 processor, and the X50 modem that makes 5G attainable, to the telephone.

The Moto Z3’s 5G Mod is pointless. 5G modems that connect with the community can already go into telephones, in a way more seamless method that does not create ridiculous bulk. Take, for instance, the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G and a number of different 5G telephones. Not a single Mod in sight.

That is not how Moto sees it. For the phone-maker, the 5G Moto Mod was a sensible alternative to associate as soon as once more with Verizon, the most important US service. As a result of what good is a brand new 5G community if there isn’t any telephone to make use of it?


See how the “fin” pops up over the telephone edge? Not very svelte.

Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

The 5G Moto Mod’s deadly flaw: Its battery

As cumbersome because the Moto Mod is, it did really feel securely connected to the Moto Z3, which is in its personal proper a wonderfully serviceable midrange handset. 

The Achilles’ heel I unintentionally and unwittingly found got here on the finish of an extended day of testing. I had simply arrived at a 5G node blocks away from the historic Chicago Theater, however no matter I attempted, I could not get any sign: biking airplane mode a number of occasions, reattaching the Mod, even rebooting the telephone.

It wasn’t till I bought again to my lodge that I noticed the Moto Mod was out of juice. Michau confirmed that the 5G Mod, which comes with its personal 2,000mAh battery, will not cost your telephone or settle for cost from it. It has its personal USB-C charging port, and, other than sharing sign, operates independently from the Moto Z3.


You’ll be able to see the rectangular infrared sensor simply to the fitting of the digital camera array.

Derek Poore/CNET

In case your Moto Mod battery dies earlier than your Moto Z3, you possibly can nonetheless use the telephone on 4G, however then you definately’re carting round some hefty lifeless weight. Michau says the intent is for the Mod’s battery to final all day, although streaming over 5G all day will take a battery toll.

That would not be so unhealthy if there had been a greater strategy to clearly see the Moto Mod’s battery meter proper on the telephone display. The notification you get in your notification stream can simply get misplaced.

I’ll give Motorola kudos for a intelligent design component that locations 4 infrared sensors close to 4 antennas. In case your finger covers one, a special antenna will decide up the sign.

Saving grace: Reasonably priced 5G at the moment

If the Z3 and Moto Mod have one redeeming high quality, it is the worth. “We nonetheless imagine that the Mod is one of the best platform, Michau mentioned. 

That is as a result of, though you are shopping for two gadgets as an alternative of 1, the full total value of possession will are available in at decrease than a flagship telephone, just like the Galaxy S10 5G. Though Samsung hasn’t introduced pricing for its 5G mannequin, it is extra superior than the S10 Plus, which prices $1,000 and makes use of 4G.


With its personal battery supply, the Moto Mod is kind of the hefty attachment.

Derek Poore/CNET

In the meantime, the Moto Z3 is on sale for $240 (down from $480), whereas the 5G Moto Mod is discounted at $200 (often $350). So, not counting the $10 month-to-month surplus for Verizon’s 5G community, the full “telephone” value is $440. 

Even the complete retail value, $830, is more likely to are available in not less than $300 beneath the premium Galaxy S10 5G. Nonetheless, I’ve a sense the Moto Z3’s costs will stay decrease reasonably than increased. 

Motorola’s subsequent slam dunk is actually across the bend

For Motorola, the ultimate clincher is that the Moto Z3 is a telephone you should buy and use on Verizon’s 5G community the second it is obtainable. However shopping for a 5G telephone now is not very sensible.

Community roll-out will take time and solely work in choose neighborhoods for now. The Qualcomm chip is already outdated. Final month, Qualcomm introduced a slimmer chip that can make telephones slimmer as effectively. It is unlikely the Mod will make the minimize.

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For me, the Moto Z3 with 5G Moto Mod is an empty “win” that can rapidly change into overshadowed by different 5G telephones that enter the market, much more reasonably priced ones.  

Motorola’s actual win is but to return, when the model is predicted to launch its comeback Motorola Razr as a foldable telephone to tackle the premium Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X. Assuming the rumors are true, that is Motorola’s finest actual alternative to make a reputation for itself — at any velocity.


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