The Motorola Moto Z3 and 5G Mod: Everything you need to know

Pie for Moto Z3 brings 5G support just in time for Verizon's 5G launch

Another year, another set of Motorola devices. We’ve already seen the Moto G6, the Moto E5, and the midrange Moto Z3 Play, and now we’re being treated to another Moto phone. The new Moto Z3 is very similar to the Moto Z3 Play. It has a better Snapdragon processor, a slightly different camera, but the main difference is that Motorola is touting the Moto Z3 as the first phone to feature 5G support thanks to an upcoming 5G Moto Mod, which will be available in early 2019.

Here’s everything we know about the new Motorola Moto Z3. You can check out our Moto Z3 hands-on review — which also dives into the 5G Moto Mod into greater detail — for more.

Updates

5G support for the Moto Z3 rolls out with the Android 9.0 Pie update

While it’s been a long time coming, the Android 9.0 Pie update is finally rolling out for the Moto Z3 on Verizon, and it’s not a moment too soon. While Android 9.0 Pie’s new features are pretty amazing, it’s the addition of 5G support that has really caught our eye. This update means the Moto Z3 is finally able to use the 5G Moto Mod, which was scheduled for release on April 11, alongside the rollout of Verizon’s 5G network.

We say “was” because that’s no longer the case. Verizon pushed its release out a week ahead of schedule, launching its 5G network in Chicago and Minneapolis on April 3. It also pushed the 5G Moto Mod ahead of schedule to match, opening the mod up for general availability on the same day.

Pre-orders for the 5G Moto Mod are available from March 14

qualcomm snapdragon 5g devices mwc 2019 phones moto z3

One of the Moto Z3’s biggest features was the option for a connection to 5G, the next generation of mobile network. Unfortunately, the 5G connection came via a Moto Mod, and the technology wasn’t finished by the time the Moto Z3 was released back in August. Thankfully, the time has now come for the release of the 5G Moto Mod. It will be available for pre-orders from March 14 and release on April 11.

If you’re looking to get the latest and greatest in mobile tech, then you can buy the 5G Moto Mod exclusively from Verizon for the princely sum of $350. However, if you pre-order the Mod, you’ll be able to pick it up for $50 up front, and $10 a month for unlimited 5G coverage on the Verizon Go Unlimited, Beyond Unlimited, or Above Unlimited plans.

While you won’t be able to use it everywhere yet, Verizon has also announced the launch of its 5G Ultra Wideband service in Chicago and Minneapolis, so residents of those cities will be able to check out their increased speeds with the 5G Moto Mod.

Design

The Moto Z3 is identical to the Moto Z3 Play in terms of design. It features a 6-inch Super AMOLED display with rounded corners with a resolution of 2,160 x 1,080. It also features an aspect ratio of 2,160 x 1,080, which indicates that it’s not really meant to be a flagship device.

The back of the phone has a very similar look to previous Moto Z phones, which is aimed at allowing support for older Moto Mods. There’s Motorola’s recognizable camera bump, along with pins that allow the phone to communicate with Moto Mods. These mods are items that magnetically attach to the back of the phone to enhance it — there’s a projector mod, a 360-degree camera mod, a wireless charging mod, and more. The Moto Z3 works with all of Motorola’s current Moto Mods.

Like the Moto Z3 Play, Motorola has moved the fingerprint sensor from the front of the phone to the side, to accommodate the slightly larger display. There’s also no headphone jack.

Specs

The Moto Z3 is Motorola’s flagship phone, but don’t expect the most up-to-date processor like every other Android flagship phone in 2018. It packs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, which is Qualcomm’s flagship processor for 2017, coupled with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, though there is a MicroSD card slot in case you want to expand upon that storage. The lack of a 2019 processor doesn’t mean performance isn’t great — quite the contrary, as you likely won’t run into any problems here — it’s just not as current. Under the hood, the phone carries a 3,000mAh battery.

Perhaps the biggest and most important part of this phone’s specs is the support for 5G. The phone has a faster file storage system that will allow it to cope with the download speeds 5G allows, and this all will work with a 5G Moto Mod that Verizon and Motorola plan to release in early 2019. The mod also has a built-in 2,000mAh battery, and can be attached and unattached without having to turn off the phone. Verizon said the mod will be capable of offering up to 5Gbps download speeds, and if you have no 5G service in the area, it will still receive 2Gbps speeds on 4G LTE.

Camera

On the back of the phone, the Moto Z3 features a dual-sensor camera, with two 12 megapixel sensors. The cameras are capable of recording video up to 4K at 30 frames per second, though there’s a super-slow-motion mode that allows you to record 1080p video at 120 frames per second. The camera has also gotten a few software upgrades, like a black-and-white mode and integration with Google Lens.

Moto Z3
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Like many other phones these days, the Moto Z3 also supports facial recognition, though we expect it to be very basic and not as secure as what you would find on phones like the iPhone X.

Software

Motorola phones stick pretty close to stock Android, and the Moto Z3 is no different running Android 8.1 Oreo. There’s the Moto app, which adds gestures and a few other features like one-button navigation, and Motorola has also added support for Amazon’s Alexa, so you can use either Google Assistant or Alexa as your digital assistant on the phone.

In the model we’ve used, there does seem to be a lot of bloatware, likely due to Verizon.

Price and availability

The Moto Z3 is available now and costs $480. It’s a Verizon exclusive, meaning you won’t be able to get your hands on it if you’re on another carrier. Verizon is also offering a payment plan of $20 per month for 24 months, and the company will offer up to $300 off for a trade-in.

The long-awaited 5G Moto Mod is finally available for pre-order from March 14, and you’ll be able to pre-order it for $50 down, and $10 a month to access unlimited coverage on the Verizon Go Unlimited, Beyond Unlimited, or Above Unlimited plans. You’ll be able to buy it outright from Verizon for the price of $350 when it releases April 11.

Updated on April 4, 2019: The Moto Z3’s Pie update has brought 5G support just in time.

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