Update: After previewing new modular peripherals for its Z series smartphones at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Motorola has announced pricing and availability. By Kyle Wiggers.
One of the most unique — and arguably best — features of Lenovo’s Moto Z series is Moto Mods, which include accessories like cameras, speakers, batteries, and more. Earlier this year at Mobile World Congress (MWC), Lenovo announced a slew of new Mods headed to market. And on June 1, it announced when they’d be available — and how much they’d cost.
The TurboPower Pack, GamePad, and SoundBoost 2 will retail for $80 later this year, and the Wireless Charging Shells are $40 apiece.
Here’s everything you need to know about Motorola’s new Moto Mods, which be fully compatible with the Moto Z2 Play.
Motorola’s new TurboPower Pack snaps onto any Moto Z like an external battery, and gives any Moto Z up to 50 percent more power via a 3,490mAh battery. It can charge the phone at 15W speeds — up to 50 percent in just 20 minutes, Motorola claims — and it’s smart enough to detect the phone’s level of charge and replenishing the battery when it’s “most efficient.” It also charges in less than an hour.
Another charging accessory, the Charging Adapter, is designed to recharge any new and existing Moto Mod. It’s a tiny box that fits over the metal connector on the Mod to be charged and plugs into an outlet.
Style Shells with Wireless Charging
Motorla’s Style Shells stands now come in more colors, and support fast charging up to 10W.
Motorola’s new GamePad Moto Mod, which was developed in partnership with the gaming division at Lenovo, adds console controls to Moto Z devices — specifically two joysticks, a directional pad, trigger buttons, and a lanyard loop. A dedicated 1,035mAh battery powers its LEDs without having to draw from the phone’s battery for power.
JBL’s SoundBoost 2 Mod adds beefed-up audio to any Moto Z device. It works with a new JBL app that lets you adjust the sound coming from the speaker, and offers up to 10 hours of playback via a built-in battery. It’s also splash-resistant, comes in three colors, has a fabric covering, and automatically pairs to your phone when you flip open the kickstand.
Those aren’t the only Mods Motorola committed to shipping this year.
Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service, the set of APIs that allow hardware makers to integrate the Alexa voice assistant into their products, will hit Moto Z devices in the form of a specially designed Mod. It features a glowing blue light that illuminates when Alexa is activated, and a pyramidal base that doubles as a desk stand.
Interestingly, the Alexa-equipped Moto Mod is akin to Amazon’s Echo Show. It pairs with a companion app that shows search results based on voice queries — if you ask about the weather in Barcelona, for example, it will show a three-day weather forecast.
Motorola said that later in the year, Moto Z would gain “deeper integration” with Alexa. It will respond to Alexa’s wake word from the lock screen, and show results in a companion app.
Motorola showed off concept Mods, or ideas for Moto Mods that might (or might not) make it to market, at Mobile World Congress in March.
One of the most impressive adds wireless charging to any Moto Z on the market. Another includes four SIM slots.
A Polaroid-like printer for Moto Z devices spits out photos on compact sheets of paper, and a robotics module adds motors and connectors that transform any Moto Z into the brains of a Lego remote-controlled car or automaton. Another Mod, a mutlilevel docking station, serves as a charger for multiple Mods.
Two other concept Mods skewed a bit more practical. One, a giant, tablet-like stand with a docking station that fits a Moto Z Force, is more than a little reminiscent of Motorola’s Atrix laptop dock and Lenovo’s PadFone. And a virtual reality headset Mod uses a Moto Z handset’s screen as a VR display, much like Samsung’s Galaxy Gear.
More Mods on the horizon
Mods are the number one reason people are buying Moto Zs, Motorola said, and they’re putting them to use. The average Moto Z user swaps Mods an average of 14 hours a week.
To help spur third-party Mod development, Motorola has teamed up with manufacturers to engineer a development platform. It will continue to design Mods itself, but it’ll also co-design Mods with partners, and let approved third-parties make, sell, and market Mods entirely by themselves.
In many cases, it’s jump-starting the development efforts itself. In India, Motorola hosted more than 100 developers, engineers, students, and partners to discuss new Moto Mod concepts. And it’s spearheaded hackathons in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and San Francisco.
The pop-up events dovetail with Motorola’s Transform the Smartphone Challenge, a competition that saw enterprising hardware developers pitch ideas for Moto Mods at events in New York and San Francisco. They subsequently launched crowdfunding campaigns on Indiegogo, and had a shot at meeting with Verizon and Motorola representatives to get their Moto Mods featured in Motorola’s online store.