Moto Z Droid review: Birth of a new successor

GSMArena team, 29 July 2016.

Display

The Moto Z Droid has a 5.5 inch quad-HD (2560x1440px) AMOLED display. This is a departure from the 2015 Moto X's LCD display in favor of an AMOLED panel. The AMOLED panel has the benefit of displaying darker blacks, more vivid colors, better outdoor legibility and it is also more power efficient in showing dark content. In many cases the screen is able to leave the black pixels powered off, such as when Moto Display is showing you notifications or the time.

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In our color rendition tests, the Moto Z has shown an average deltaE of 5.3 and max deltaE or 11.7. Colors are well represented and look pleasant to the eye with the default "Vivid" display setting. There is also a "Standard" setting which displays more accurate colors, though not as accurate as we've seen other phones reach.

Display test 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Lenovo Moto Z 0.00 371
Lenovo Moto Z max auto 0.00 506
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 0.00 392
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge max auto 0.00 610
Huawei Nexus 6P 0.00 352
OnePlus 3 0.00 433
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 0.43 590 1382
Samsung Galaxy Note5 - 439
Samsung Galaxy Note5 max auto - 620 -
Samsung Galaxy S7 active 0.00 424
Samsung Galaxy S7 active max auto 0.00 602

With the "Standard" setting, colors are significantly more accurate with the exception of whites, which are cooler than they should be. The average deltaE is 2.9 now but the Max deltaE is at 8.1.

Display settings - Moto Z Droid Edition Review Display settings - Moto Z Droid Edition Review
Display settings

This display panel features a brightness overdrive mode only available with 'Adaptive brightness' enabled and it brings it from the regular max brightness of 370 nits all the way to 506. While this isn't the brightest screen we've seen, it's pretty good and you shouldn't have any trouble seeing the display in direct sunlight.

Moto Z Droid Edition Review Speaking of which, sunlight legibility is quantifiably great as well.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+
    4.615
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
    4.439
  • OnePlus 3
    4.424
  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    4.376
  • HTC One A9
    4.274
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7
    4.247
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    4.241
  • OnePlus 3T
    4.232
  • Google Pixel XL
    4.164
  • ZTE Axon 7
    4.154
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge
    4.124
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    4.09
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    4.019
  • OnePlus X
    3.983
  • Vivo Xplay5 Elite
    3.983
  • Oppo R7s
    3.964
  • Apple iPhone 7
    3.964
  • Huawei P9 Plus
    3.956
  • Meizu Pro 6 Plus
    3.935
  • Lenovo Moto Z
    3.931
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016)
    3.918
  • Samsung Galaxy C5
    3.911
  • Samsung Galaxy C7
    3.896
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    3.895
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 outdoor
    3.879
  • Samsung Galaxy J2 outdoor
    3.873
  • Samsung Galaxy A8
    3.859
  • Samsung Galaxy A9 (2016)
    3.817
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    3.816
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016) outdoor mode
    3.802
  • Xiaomi Redmi Pro
    3.798
  • LG V20 Max auto
    3.798
  • Sony Xperia XZ
    3.795
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)
    3.789
  • Apple iPhone 6s
    3.783
  • Meizu Pro 5
    3.781
  • Microsoft Lumia 650
    3.772
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016)
    3.756
  • Oppo F1 Plus
    3.709
  • Vivo X5Pro
    3.706
  • Sony Xperia X Compact
    3.694
  • Apple iPhone SE
    3.681
  • Huawei Mate 9
    3.68
  • Samsung Galaxy A7
    3.679
  • Meizu PRO 6
    3.659
  • BlackBerry Priv
    3.645
  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus
    3.588
  • Apple iPhone 6s Plus
    3.53
  • Motorola Moto Z Play
    3.526
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016)
    3.523
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016) outdoor mode
    3.523
  • Acer Jade Primo
    3.521
  • Microsoft Lumia 950
    3.512
  • Oppo R7 Plus
    3.499
  • nubia Z11
    3.466
  • Samsung Galaxy J7
    3.422
  • Meizu MX5
    3.416
  • LG V20
    3.402
  • Oppo R9s
    3.352
  • Oppo R7
    3.32
  • Xiaomi Mi 5s
    3.276
  • Samsung Galaxy J2
    3.235
  • Sony Xperia X Performance
    3.234
  • Xiaomi Mi Note 2
    3.228
  • Motorola Moto X Play
    3.222
  • Huawei P9
    3.195
  • Lenovo Vibe Shot
    3.113
  • Motorola Moto X Force
    3.105
  • LG Nexus 5X
    3.092
  • Huawei Mate S
    3.073
  • Microsoft Lumia 640 XL
    3.065
  • Sony Xperia X
    2.989
  • Huawei Mate 8
    2.949
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3S
    2.913
  • Sony Xperia XA Ultra
    2.906
  • LG G5
    2.905
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3s Prime
    2.893
  • Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus
    2.884
  • Sony Xperia Z5
    2.876
  • Microsoft Lumia 550
    2.851
  • Lenovo Moto M
    2.813
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3 Pro
    2.803
  • Sony Xperia Z5 compact
    2.784
  • Meizu MX6
    2.751
  • LG V10
    2.744
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3
    2.735
  • Sony Xperia M5
    2.69
  • Huawei P9 Lite
    2.679
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4 Prime
    2.679
  • Vivo V3Max
    2.659
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix
    2.658
  • Xiaomi Mi 4i
    2.641
  • Sony Xperia XA
    2.609
  • Motorola Moto G4 Plus
    2.582
  • Motorola Moto G4 Plus (max auto)
    2.582
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    2.574
  • LeEco Le Max 2
    2.567
  • Microsoft Lumia 640
    2.563
  • Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
    2.563
  • Lenovo Moto G4
    2.544
  • Lenovo K6 Note
    2.544
  • Oppo F1
    2.528
  • Sony Xperia Z5 Premium
    2.525
  • Huawei Honor 7 Lite / Honor 5c
    2.506
  • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
    2.503
  • Oppo F1s
    2.481
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus
    2.473
  • Huawei G8
    2.471
  • Huawei nova
    2.467
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Lenovo Vibe K5
    2.459
  • Meizu m3 max
    2.447
  • Huawei Honor 7
    2.406
  • Sony Xperia E5
    2.386
  • ZUK Z1 by Lenovo
    2.382
  • HTC 10
    2.378
  • Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016)
    2.378
  • Meizu m1 note
    2.362
  • Huawei nova plus
    2.329
  • HTC One E9+
    2.305
  • Alcatel One Touch Hero
    2.272
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    2.269
  • Lenovo Vibe K4 Note
    2.254
  • Sony Xperia C5 Ultra
    2.253
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (MediaTek)
    2.249
  • Sony Xperia C4 Dual
    2.235
  • Xiaomi Mi Note
    2.234
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    2.233
  • LG Nexus 5
    2.228
  • Huawei P8
    2.196
  • Huawei Honor 6
    2.169
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 2
    2.166
  • OnePlus Two
    2.165
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • LG Aka
    2.145
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4
    2.145
  • Archos 50 Diamond
    2.134
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    2.119
  • Acer Liquid X2
    2.084
  • Huawei P8lite
    2.078
  • Moto G 3rd gen max manual
    2.026
  • Xiaomi Mi Max
    1.996
  • Sony Xperia E4g
    1.972
  • OnePlus One
    1.961
  • Meizu m3 note
    1.923
  • BlackBerry Leap
    1.892
  • Meizu m2 note
    1.892
  • ZTE Nubia Z9 mini
    1.759
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • Asus Zenfone Selfie
    1.68
  • Motorola Moto E (2nd Gen)
    1.675
  • ZTE Nubia Z9
    1.659
  • Jolla Jolla
    1.605
  • Motorola Moto E
    1.545
  • Sony Xperia M
    1.473
  • HTC Desire C
    1.3
  • Sony Xperia C
    1.283
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Sony Xperia E
    1.215

This is such a great quality display, there isn't even any color shifting at normal viewing angles. The colors don't start shifting until you're looking at the device from about 80 degrees from the center. With the exception of some of its color tuning, Moto Z sports a really nice screen.

Connectivity

The Moto Z features a USB-C port which also doubles as the 3.5mm headphone jack (via an adapter) since there is no integrated headphone jack (because of this, there is no FM Radio chip either).

Other connectivity options include: Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac (5GHz), Bluetooth 4.1 LE, NFC, A-GPS, Wi-Fi Direct, and of course, the Moto Mod dock connector which allows for endless expansion of display signal, power, or addition of new sensors such as temperature.

The U.S. Moto Z will be compatible with CDMA (on Verizon): 850, 1900MHz, GSM/GRPS/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900MHz), UTMS/HSPA+ (850, 900, 1700, 1900, 2100MHz), and LTE Bands: 2, 3, 5, 7, 13.

The Moto Z also has Android Pay pre-loaded as the default mobile payment service. Android Pay works with NFC and works at all tap-to-pay terminals.

Unfortunately, the charging cable is a part of the charger as a single unit and cannot be separated. Likewise, the Moto Z does not come with any type of cable that you can connect to a computer to transfer files back and forth. You'll have to buy your own transfer cable.

Battery life

You could say we were expecting this, but a 2,600 mAh battery in a phone of this caliber is simply not enough and the battery test results are a clear reflection of that. Yeah, the Moto Z is the thinnest smartphone on the market, but you need to decide if design matters to you over battery life.

The Moto Z has a 2,600mAh battery. A size not fit for a smartphone with a top of the line CPU, 5.5 inch quad-HD screen, and Moto enhancements which offer value added features thanks to: contextual motion and language sensors; In other words, too many things that may be detrimental to battery life, especially for a phone with this size battery.

Thankfully there's a 15 watt Turbo Charger included in the box, which brings the Moto Z up to 52% from a dead battery in 30 minutes.

Moto Z Droid Edition Review

Our tests have yielded the Moto Z Droid with a score of 53h. The video-playback test scored 9:51h, and the web browsing test scored a much lower 6:13h while the talk time scored a just-as-bad 10:43h, though, that's still not as low as the iPhone 6S's talk time of 9:41h.

By comparison, last year's Moto X Pure Edition (a.k.a. Moto X Style) scored a rating of 63h in our battery tests.

Otherwise, the phone doesn't feel like it's as bad as the results might show. Surely if you're a more avid user of your smartphone and you constantly use various social media apps or play Pokemon Go a lot, you'll probably have a bad time with the battery endurance.

Moto Z Droid Edition Review

On the flip side, if you are a leaner smartphone user, you'll learn to live with the Turbo Charger, which charges the phone quite fast. The thing is, you would probably have to carry it with you as the phone normally won't last a full day. In fact, we feel many users might not be happy about the battery life in the Moto Z.

Otherwise, you can get a Moto Mod battery add on. Our tests with the Tumi 2,200mAh battery added a total of 60% to the life of the Moto Z when we docked it to the totally depleted Moto Z. The Moto Mod battery lasted 1:32h to completely deplete itself and charge the Moto Z.

Here's a breakdown of how the battery pack yielded power for the Moto Z:

    • 30 minutes of charging brought the Moto Z to 21% from 0%
    • 1 hour of charging brought the Moto Z to 41% (with 35% left on the battery)
    • 1 hour and 32 minutes later, the battery Moto Mod was depleted and added 60% to the Moto Z

The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you're interested in the nitty-gritties. You can also check out our complete battery test table, where you can see how all of the smartphones we've tested will compare under your own typical use.