Lenovo debuts modular Moto Z phones, but there’s a big catch

We’ve been hanging out a Lenovo Tech World this week, and there was a lot of cool new stuff to see. There was also a bit of controversy. First the techie goodness: Lenovo, who bought Motorola’s cell phone business from Google, unveiled two cool new flagship phones, the Moto Z and the Moto Z Force. Both feature top-tier tech including high-resolution cameras, 5.5-inch AMOLED screens, 4 gigs of RAM and 32 or 64gb of storage.

The Moto Z Force adds in an even better camera, more battery capacity and a shatter-proof display. The key feature for both phones, though, are the Moto Mods. These add-on modules utilize that external patch of contacts we spied early on, and you can get a JBL-based audio-boost pack, a mini pico-type projector –both of which feature additional battery power – and a pure battery booster pack. Plus, there’s a dev kit, so more Moto Mods are on the way.

But here’s the bad news: in the U.S. market, the phones initially are only going to work on Verizon’s network, however, Motorola says the Moto Z will be available this fall as an unlocked device. It’s not the first time a phone has been restricted to a carrier. But we think these phones are too cool to have access restricted by carrier, so we hope you’ll join us in telling Motorola to free the MotoZ.

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Another cool phone to pop up at Lenovo Tech World was the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro. The gigantic-for-a-phone Phab 2 Pro runs Google’s “Tango” system, which includes some pretty robust augmented reality features. It can also 3D map enclosed spaces and then let you virtually add furniture, play games, and more. You better have deep pockets – literally – as the phone has a 7-inch screen, putting it firmly in phablet territory.

Fortunately, the Phab 2 Pro will be sold unlocked for $500 beginning this September. The Tango AR system is in the final stages of development, but after getting a first look, we have to say, this is going to be one fun, albeit large, mega phone.

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As you know, Google has been rolling out super-fast gigabit internet service in several cities through their Google Fiber program. But running all that cable is expensive and time consuming.

Solution? Gigabit wifi. According to the Wall Street Journal, Google chairman Eric Schmidt says improvements in wireless tech have now made it possible to push gigabit speeds through the air, and they’re building out a wireless test network in KC, the same city that was first in line to get Google Fiber a few years back. A gigabit-speed wifi network potentially solves a lot of bottlenecks, especially when it comes to video streaming.

You might have to have some sort of special super-wifi receiver in or on your home, but if that means we can stream Game of Thrones without it stopping to buffer, well, hey, we can live with that.

Updated June 13 to reflect the news that the Moto Z will be available from Moto.com as an unlocked device this fall, per Motorola.

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