This image is supposedly the new Motorola Z3. I’m apparently one of the few remaining people rooting for Motorola to make good phones, but it has me excited. Unless Motorola manages to fuck it all up like the first two iterations of the Z series.

I loved my old Moto X Pure Edition. Basically the only reason I got rid of it was I needed a fingerprint reader that it didn’t have. It had great hardware, was easy to hold in one hand in spite of a bigass screen, and as is usual for Motorola, it had a nice clean Android build with only a few subtle additions that are actually useful, like Moto Display, which has proximity sensors at all corners of the phone and displays lots of notification content.

It had fun gestures like opening the camera app by twisting the phone, or turning the flashlight on with a karate chop.


I replaced it with a Galaxy S7 Edge, which has been a mixed bag, and lately it had been janking all over the place. Not to go on a rant about that, but I lowered the resolution from 1440p to 1080p, which helped a lot, actually.


The other thing that helped was when I went from T-Mobile back to Verizon. Samsung unlocked phones are weird with swapping carriers. You have to change the SIM while the phone is turned on, which is the opposite of basically every other phone I’ve had, and then the OS reconfigures itself to the new carrier’s settings.

I had been on Verizon (Total Wireless) but switched to T-Mobile because of bad coverage at my previous job. T-Mobile coverage sucks at my current job, so I went back to Verizon (boom! mobile) yesterday. The jank was less bad when I first got the phone, it was worse on T-Mobile, and now with it back to the Verizon configuration, it seems to actually cooperate with Google Maps, Pandora, and 1440p. It’s not fluid, but it actually, you know, works. What the hell? I’m still leaving it on 1080p because I’d rather the phone be smooth in general use.

Anyway! Motorola!

My old Moto X Pure was 1440p, and with its older Snapdragon 808, it never struggled the way my S7E does with running Google Maps and Pandora at the same time. At the time it came out, it was an “almost flagship,” cheaper than stuff like the Nexus 6P. Kinda like where OnePlus sits in the market right now, except compatible with all carriers including Verizon.


My wife’s cheap Moto G5+, in general use, also often feels smoother than my S7E set to 1080p and back on Verizon. The S7E really is fine at the moment, but there’s still a dropped frame here, a stutter there, and mildly perceptible general not-quite-smoothness that just doesn’t happen nearly as often with Motorola (and other brands’) phones.

While I’m admittedly a Motorola fan, they haven’t made a high end phone I want to buy since the X Pure. The Z series has been a non-starter for me because none of them are unlocked with universal carrier compatibility. Even though that’s exactly what Motorola is great at in their lower-end phones, and my old X Pure, and the X4, which is a low/midrange model now, not a flagship competitor like the X Pure was. The unlocked versions of the Z series have been GSM only, and some of them haven’t even had unlocked versions at all.

The whole Moto Mod concept of accessories that slap on the back of the phone with a dedicated connector is kinda dumb, except if you’re an external battery enthusiast. I don’t hate it, except the way to get wireless charging is with the wireless charging Moto Mod that’s been unavailable for a while, and all the cases for the phone itself don’t fit over the phone with this Moto Mod attached. Oh, or you can get this nice thick battery pack Moto Mod that also does wireless charging, but I have to carry a second phone from work and don’t want my personal phone to be all chunky. Whatever.


The original Z was ok, if not for the whole not-unlocked problem, but the Z Force and Z2 Force have this stupid ShatterShield screen that is plastic instead of glass, so it doesn’t crack if you drop it, but is so soft it picks up scratches like crazy, even when handled gently.

Thats right, the only way to keep a phone with ShatterShield, a supposedly-indestructible screen, free of scratches, is to put a damn screen protector on it. Talk about dumb. I don’t like messing with screen protectors. Gorilla Glass is strong stuff! I’ve dropped multiple phones with Gorilla Glass screens and relatively slim TPU cases and never once cracked the screen. I haven’t scratched them either.


The Z Force was easy to avoid because there were three versions of the original Z series: Z, Z Force, and Z Play. The regular and Force versions had the same internals and OLED panel, but the Force was thicker, with a bigger battery and ShatterShield. The Play had a slower processor, lower resolution LCD screen, and big battery, for lots of battery life. People who like big batteries love Moto Z Play phones.

But on the Z2 series, you couldn’t avoid the ShatterShield if you wanted flagship specs. There was no regular Z2, only Play and Force. Except the Z2 Force combined the flagship internals and ShatterShield with a small battery like the regular Z, not the Z Force. D’oh!

The upcoming Z3 series keeps the same overall shape and Moto Mod concept as the first two Z series. They have tall screens like other recent flagship phones. The Z3 has flagship specs and a 1440p screen, the Z3 Play has midrange specs and a 1080p screen. The Z3, with no Force branding, might finally be ditching the stupid ShatterShield.



( least as long as it’s priced more like a OnePlus 6 and less like a Pixel 2 XL.) 

Oh, and there’s a Motorola product announcement tomorrow, June 6.