The "1-Minute" Review
- Awkward ergonomics
- Poor low-light camera performance
- Only available to Verizon customers
Motorola has always offered a decent smartphone experience at an affordable price. The Moto Z3 is no exception. Although it might not offer the performance and features of other premium smartphones, it will be the first 5G upgradeable smartphone thanks to its mods. But, as you might expect at the price point, Motorola had to make compromises. Did they make the right ones?
If you’ve seen the Moto Z3 Play , then you’ve seen the Moto Z3. The design is almost identical. While thin, many found it awkward and uncomfortable in the hand due to its poorly placed side fingerprint scanner, high volume button, and slippery glass back.
If you’re looking for a waterproof phone, you’ll be disappointed. The phone is splash resistant, but it likely won’t survive a drop in a puddle.
It comes equipped with the same 6-inch, full HD+ (2160-by-1080 pixel) display from the Z3 Play. While not as sharp as Quad HD, it’s crisp and offers the same pixel density as the OnePlus 6 .
Reviewers were happy with the viewing angles and overall sunlight legibility. They found the colors vibrant but a bit on the saturated side. You can adjust screen saturation and color temperature to suit your taste if you agree.
On paper, the Z3’s hardware doesn’t sound great. It comes with the Snapdragon 835 processor and 4GB of RAM. Compared to other phones at this price, the processor is dated. Yet, in real life tests, critics could handle multi-task and play high-end games without significant issues.
Interestingly, Motorola opted for a processor that cannot handle 5G. Instead, it uses a Motorola mod to add 5G access. The Mod itself comes equipped with a Snapdragon X50 5G modem, an X24 4G modem, and its own 2,000mAh battery. Including an additional battery in the mod makes up for the extra power needed for the 5G and 4G mode.
The phone itself comes with a 3,000mAh battery. Experts could get around a full day of juice with moderate usage. Heavier use without mods drained the battery in about 7.5 hours.
Like other smartphones, the Z3 has a dual-lens 12MP main camera. One lens captures color while the other captures black-and-white images. Unfortunately, while the specs look good, results didn’t impress reviewers.
Reviewers captured detailed pictures with good color reproduction in outdoor lighting situations. However, once they ventured indoors, the camera’s autofocus often missed the mark leading to blurry pictures.
Once in low lighting, their pictures were even worse due to camera shake and grain.
While not a bad phone, reviewers are rather tepid in their recommendation. The Verge states, “... The Moto Z3 is an extremely decent phone for its price… but… it’s a 2017 flagship phone in 2018.” Tom’s Guide adds, “Motorola has put together a solid budget flagship in the Moto Z3, even in spite of its modest specs and familiar design… Still, the Moto Z3 feels like a half measure in too many respects…”
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