Motorola’s latest phone, the Moto Z4, is now here, and on paper, it’s almost a replica of the Motorola One Vision, a phone the company announced a few weeks ago. The One Vision isn’t coming to the United States, though, so we’ll have to make do with the Z4.
While Moto Z phones are Motorola’s cream of the crop, they’re decidedly midrange phones when compared to the rest of the market. Last year’s Moto Z3, for example, offered Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 processor, while its peers had the newer Snapdragon 845. What distinguishes the line are Moto Mods. It’s a part of the company’s effort to bring new features quickly to lower-priced phones. Moto Mods magnetically attach to the back of the phone, and new features like extra battery life, wireless charging, or even the capability to capture 360-degree photos.
The 5G Moto Mod is the best example of this, as it allows you to access 5G — if it’s even available where you are — for a lot cheaper than buying a 5G phone like the $1,300 Samsung Galaxy S10 5G. It also made the Moto Z3 the first phone to support the new wireless standard.
Here’s everything you need to know about the new Moto Z4.
Specs and software
The biggest change from the Moto Z4’s predecessor is that you won’t see an 800 series Snapdragon chipset powering the phone. Rather, the new phone packs Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 675. It’s still powerful, but it focuses on artificial intelligence and improved image processing. It can’t beat the Snapdragon 855 (the 2019 flagship processor of choice) in raw performance.
It’s coupled with 4GB of RAM, and you’ll get 128GB of storage, though you can expand on that storage with a MicroSD card. Powering it all is a 3,600mAh battery, which Motorola said should get you through two days of normal use. Of course, you might still find that you need to charge your phone every night.
You might notice that there’s no fingerprint sensor on the back or side of the phone, because it has been moved to under the display. The in-display sensor is an optical sensor, and unfortunately, that means you’ll need a compatible screen protector for it to work — something to keep in mind as you shop for accessories.
The phone runs Android 9 Pie, and there’s not much Motorola has changed over stock Android. Moto Actions are still present so you can use gestures like twisting the phone twice to launch the camera, and so is Moto Display so you can wave your hand over the screen to see notifications. Google Assistant fans will be able to activate Assistant by double-tapping the power button.
Motorola said the Moto Z4 will get bimonthly security updates for two years. However, the company is only committing to delivering one Android version update, Android 10 Q, which Google releases in August. It’s highly unlikely Android R will make it to this phone.
Design and display
The Moto Z4 doesn’t reinvent the wheel in terms of design, but that’s because Motorola doesn’t have much to work with. The company has to stick with the similar body size and style so the phone can accommodate all the existing Moto Mods. Still, there are small variations.
The front of the phone is where the main design differences lie. Motorola has finally adopted an edge-to-edge display for the Moto Z4, with rounded corners and a bubble-shaped teardrop notch for the front-facing camera. Bezels are slimmed down, though they’re not quite as thin as some other devices. It’s a 6.39-inch OLED display with a Full HD+ resolution (2340 x 1080), and the aspect ratio is 19:9.
The phone is available in Flash Grey and Frost White, and apart from the different colors the back of the phone, looks almost the same as previous Moto Z devices. There’s a large camera bump, and towards the bottom of the phone you’ll see the Moto Mod connectivity pins. It’s etched matte glass on the back, though, so it won’t catch fingerprints or smudges as easily. Both the front and back utilize Gorilla Glass 3.
What’s interesting is the re-addition of the headphone jack. The 3.5mm jack has been slowly disappearing from flagship phones for years now, with Apple, Huawei, Sony, and more all dropping the venerable port in favor of freeing up internal space and relying on Bluetooth. Motorola was the first company to ditch the jack on the Moto Z, and this would be the first time a manufacturer has brought back the port on the same series of phone (the exception is Google’s Pixel 3a).
Sadly, there’s no IP-rated water resistance. The phone has a nano-coating that protects it from splashes and rain, but that’s it.
Another major change between the Moto Z4 and previous-gen Moto Z3 is how there’s now only a single camera lens on the back. That said, it’s a pretty high-tech camera lens, and will hopefully make for some great shots.
The rear-facing camera comes in at 48 megapixels, though thanks to the Quad Pixel technology it’s using, you’ll get a 12-megapixel output. It uses pixel binning technology, so it combines pixels so they can take in more light, hence the lower resolution output. It has an f/1.7 aperture, a 1.6um pixel size, and both optical image stabilization and laser autofocus.
The camera has a range of software features too, though we’ll have to wait and see how those features compare to other devices. It has a Night Vision mode, for example, and supports Google Lens. Other features, like Cinemagraph, AR Stickers, and Live Filter, are also present. There’s also Portrait Mode, and Motorola is now introducing a series of Portrait Lighting features to add different looks to the mode.
On the front of the phone, you’ll get a 25-megapixel selfie cam, with an f/2.0 aperture and a 0.9um pixel size. The front cam also supports the same Quad Pixel technology, resulting in an effective output of 6.25 megapixels. Unlike the rear camera, you can not use the Quad Pixel mode and opt for taking full 25-megapixel selfies.
Price and availability
The phone doesn’t have flagship specs, but thankfully it doesn’t come at a flagship price either. It costs $500, but that’s for the unlocked model, which works on all the major carriers and includes a 360-degree Moto Mod. You can nab it from Best Buy, B&H, and Amazon now. If you buy your device from Amazon, you’ll also have the option of getting one with “Alexa Hands-Free,” which comes with Alexa and other Amazon services pre-installed.
If you’re on Verizon, you can now get the phone through the carrier, and there are a few sweet deals. You can get the Moto Z4 for $240, or $10 per month for 24 months, if you activate a new line. If you’re an existing customer that is upgrading, you’ll get $100 off the Moto Z4. If you’re in an area that supports Verizon’s 5G network, Verizon is offering a discount for the 5G Moto Mod — it costs just $200, but it’s only for a limited time. Best Buy is offering a deal for the Verizon variant of the phone too — those that purchase the phone at Best Buy will get a limited time offer of $5 per month for 24 months for new lines, or $10 per month for 24 months for upgrades.
The phone is only available in the U.S. at launch, but will be heading to Canada in the summer.
Updated on June 13, 2019: The phone is now available from Verizon.