Lenovo Moto Z review: Proof that modular smartphones have a future

Price when reviewed

What’s more, the Moto Z has another trick up its sleeve here. While it doesn’t have an always-on display, it arguably has something a bit more clever: wave your hand over the screen when it’s off, and the display comes to life with the time, date, and any notifications you have. Remove your hand and it will fade out in three seconds. A smart way of giving you the benefits of always-on without draining too much of the battery.

Which is just as well, because that’s an area where the Moto Z struggles a tad. Within the Moto Z is a 2,600mAh battery. If that sounds a touch stingy, it’s because it is, but if you’re fearing that it will struggle to get through the day with more than moderate use, then you may be pleasantly surprised. In our regular battery test – a looped 720p movie with the handset set to 170cd/m2 brightness – the phone lasted 12hrs 21mins before giving up the ghost. That’s not astonishingly good, but it’s only 41 minutes less than the iPhone 7, so it’s certainly not woeful. If you want longer battery life, though, the most useful Moto module will be the £60 battery pack.

Thankfully, the bundled fast charger is very fast indeed, giving you almost a third of your battery back in a quarter of an hour. Still, you can’t help feel that chasing the “thinnest phone” trophy isn’t worthwhile if you need to strap a battery to the back to rival the longest-lasting phones out there. It’s worth bearing in mind that the Samsung Galaxy S7 lasts 17hrs 48mins in our standard battery test.


Lenovo Moto Z: Performance

Thinness aside, one of the reasons the battery struggles to cope with the Moto Z is because it’s one powerful phone. A quad-core 2.15GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 runs the show, backed by 4GB of RAM. If that chipset sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the same Snapdragon used in – among others – the HTC 10, LG G5, Sony Xperia XZ and OnePlus 3, albeit with different amounts of RAM backing it up (3GB in the Sony, 6GB in the OnePlus).

So, how does it compare to its peers? Very well indeed. As you’d expect on a phone with these kind of specifications, everything you throw at it is handled with total ease. This is why we turn to benchmarking software to give us direct comparisons in like-for-like handsets. Here are those comparable handsets again…

Geekbench  single core

Geekbench multi core

GFXBench Manhattan 3 (onscreen)

GFXBench Manhattan 3 (offscreen)

Lenovo Moto Z





HTC 10










Samsung Galaxy S7





Apple iPhone 7





OnePlus 3





Across the board, then, pretty similar results – and of course, the RRP for the Lenovo Moto Z is lower than the majority of its rivals. In fact, at £500, it would look like an incredible bargain – if it weren’t for the £329 OnePlus 3 making everyone look bad. 

Lenovo Moto Z: Camera

In terms of the camera, you’re looking at a decent bump from the Moto X series. The rear snapper is a 13-megapixel affair with 1.12um pixels and a f/1.8 aperture. Optical image stabilisation and a laser autofocus are also included for a solid all-round package.

The results are good, too: in well-lit environments, photographs are very impressive indeed, not too far behind the best in the business. Images appear sharp and detailed, even when zoomed in to a level that some handsets would consider too close for comfort.


In low light, things get a bit more tricky, and it loses ground to the S7 and HTC 10 in terms of detail and – at times – blurring. Nonetheless, it’s the kind of camera that should leave most amateur photographers happy, and there’s always the £199 Hasselblad DSLR camera add-on for those unsatisfied.

The front-facing selfie camera is a 5-megapixel snapper, with a f/2.2 aperture and 1.4um pixels and a LED flash. Suffice it to say, it’s more than sufficient to make your selfies come alive.

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