Vital Moto Mod and Livermorium Keyboard Moto Mod hands-on review

Vital's Moto Mod makes it easy to accurately track your health

vital moto mod livermorium split screen
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
A few modular smartphone projects may have come and gone, but Motorola is holding strong with the snappable Moto Mods on its Moto Z smartphone family. There’s a good collection of Motorola handsets that support these mods — from the midrange Moto Z2 Play to the flagship Moto Z2 Force smartphones — and two new Moto Mods announced at CES 2018 mean there are now more than 15 mods available.

The latest additions are Vital Inc.’s Vital Moto Mod, which measures five metrics including heart rate, blood pressure, and core body temperature; and Livermorium’s Keyboard Mod, which adds a physical keyboard to the attached Moto Z phone. In our Vital Moto Mod and Livermorium Keyboard Moto Mod hands-on review, we see if it’s worth swapping to the Moto Z family to try these mods out.

Vital Moto Mod

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The Vital Moto Mod is a glimpse of a future that’s much closer than you may realize. It’s a health-focused device that doesn’t really need to be a Moto Mod, but it’s easier for Vital USA Inc. to bring the product to market with the help of Lenovo and Motorola. The Moto Mod tracks five vitals: heart rate; pulse oximetry (SpO2), or the amount of oxygen in the blood; respiratory rate, or the number of breaths you take per minute; core body temperature; and blood pressure.

The reason why it stands alone as its own product is because it connects to a Moto Z phone via Bluetooth — most mods usually secure a connection through pogo pins. You can still slap the Vital Moto Mod to the back of a Moto Z smartphone and it will connect magnetically, but it also works when it’s off the phone. Naturally, the Vital Moto Mod works exclusively with Moto Z phones, but you can imagine — and Vital Inc. confirmed this — that a product down the line would be available for just about any smartphone on the market.

Vital Inc. said the data is incredibly accurate, but the mod doesn’t replace your doctor.

The mod is ridiculously chunky, but it’s not a problem because it doesn’t need to be attached to your phone all the time. To track all your vitals, simply insert your left index finger through the blood pressure monitor on the back, and hold your hand and the mod up close to your chest. The hole your finger is in contracts just like a normal blood pressure monitor on your arm.

You have to keep still for about 110 seconds to let it track several things, and when you’re done, you can lift the mod up to your forehead and stay still for a few seconds just to get your core body temperature. The process is dead simple, and largely involves just a few minutes of your time — like a visit to the doctor. It worked without a hitch for me, and my vitals are surprisingly in a healthy range.

Vital Inc. said the data is incredibly accurate, but the mod doesn’t replace your doctor. It’s meant more to help keep track of your health, and see when your vitals change based on the level of your daily activity — you can even share this data with your physician. In the app, you can see the readings as well as graphs that show you if your health is above or below average. There’s room for improvement here, though, as we think the app could benefit from a coach or more tools to help you understand what some of these numbers mean.

The data stored by Vital is compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, which means you’re in charge of who has access to your medical information. The ability to track all these vitals within a matter of minutes, and store this data for historical record, is impressive. We can’t wait for this device to work with various smartphones, as it provides a real benefit.

The Vital Moto Mod is expected to launch early this year, and price hasn’t been confirmed, but it’s likely to cost somewhere in the $300 to $400 range.

Livermorium Moto Mod

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The Livermorium Moto Mod spawned from Motorola’s “Transform the Smartphone” Indiegogo campaign that challenged people to come up with unique and useful Moto Mods. Livermorium raised the most funds for its Keyboard Moto Mod. It does exactly what the name suggests — add a keyboard to your Moto Z smartphone.

If you’re longing for phones like the T-Mobile Sidekick, then this is a mod for you. Magnetically attach the mod to the back of a compatible Moto Z phone, and simply slide out the back to reveal a full, backlit QWERTY keyboard. You can angle the keyboard toward you so it’s more comfortable to hold, and you can easily turn off the backlight.

It felt comfortable to use, with satisfying buttons and enough room between the keys — it didn’t feel cramped. You’ll find Android navigation keys on the keyboard itself, and while it could activate the native Android split-screen mode, it did not activate Google Assistant — you’ll have to use the touchscreen or your voice.

The Indiegogo campaign model featured a battery in the mod to add even more value, but it looks like the first batches the company is shipping do not have a battery. That’s a shame, because the mod is already incredibly thick. That’s the biggest downside of the Keyboard Moto Mod, because it feels like you’re holding a brick when it’s attached to a phone.

Die-hard physical keyboard fans will certainly be interested, but considering the mod costs $100 and the fact that Moto Z phones aren’t exactly cheap, we recommend finding a phone with an embedded physical keyboard. Did you hear? BlackBerry’s doing well — or opt for Samsung’s smart QWERTY keyboard cover.

Product Review

Motorola's sexy Moto G7 will change the way you look at budget phones

With glass curves, a large display, and an eye-catching price tag the Moto G7 will turn plenty of heads in the budget smartphone market. We tested it out to see if Motorola has done enough to top the value charts.
Mobile

The best Moto G7 Power cases you can buy for your power-full phone

The Moto G7 Power's 5,000mAh battery certainly has the stamina to go for all twelve rounds. But the glass back could be a glass jaw of sorts. Protect your power-full phone with the best Moto G7 Power cases.
Mobile

Here's where you can pre-order the Moto G7 Power and its massive battery

After a number of leaks and rumors, the Motorola Moto G7, Moto G7 Play, and Moto G7 Power are finally here. The devices represent quite a spec bump over the previous-generation Moto G6 phones, yet still come at a reasonable price.
Mobile

Moto Z3's 5G Moto Mod will finally be available for pre-order starting March 14

Buckle up your Moto Mods and get ready -- the Motorola Moto Z3 is finally almost here. Boasting flagship specs and a classic Motorola design, the phone is set to be a serious contender for anyone looking for a flagship-like phone.
Deals

Need a new tablet? Here are the best iPad deals for March 2019

In the wide world of tablets, Apple is still the king. If you're on team Apple and just can't live without iOS, we've curated an up-to-date list of all of the best iPad deals currently available for March 2018.
Deals

Amazon drops price on Apple Watch Series 4 with a rare deal

Since Apple first unveiled the Series 4, the price for one has pretty much held fast. This has finally started to change with a nice little $15 discount on Amazon. If you've been wanting the newest Apple Watch, now is a great time.
Gaming

Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs brings 3D demolition into your living room

Angry Birds is releasing its next entry in the spring of 2019 - with a new spin. Bringing 3D environments and destruction, Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs uses augmented reality to add a new dimension to a classic series.
Computing

Sending SMS messages from your PC is easier than you might think

Texting is a fact of life, but what to do when you're in the middle of something on your laptop or just don't have your phone handy? Here's how to send a text message from a computer, whether you prefer to use an email client or Windows 10.
Mobile

Google's midrange Pixels might be called the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are considered to be two of the best Android smartphones, but it looks like Google could be prepping a midrange line. Say hello to the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL.
Mobile

Whether by the pool or the sea, make a splash with the best waterproof phones

Whether you're looking for a phone you can use in the bath, or you just want that extra peace of mind, waterproof phones are here and they're amazing. Check out our selection of the best ones you can buy.
Gaming

Blackout to go? Call of Duty: Mobile is coming this summer

Activision and Tencent have partnered to create Call of Duty: Mobile, a free-to-play version of the popular shooter franchise that will be available on iOS and Android devices this summer.
Mobile

Here are 15 of our favorite iPad Mini cases, covers to protect your tiny tablet

We take a look at the best iPad Mini cases and covers on the market. We have cases in a range of styles and prices, with all sorts of distinguishing features. If you have an Apple iPad Mini 4 or iPad Mini 5 then get a case now.
Cars

Say goodbye to Uber for good: Here's how to cut ties with the ridesharing service

If you thought that deleting the Uber app would also delete your account, think again. You'll have to deactivate your account, then wait 30 days in order to do so. Here, we outlined how to delete your Uber account once and for all.
Mobile

Apple iPad Mini 5 vs. iPad Mini 4: What’s new in Apple’s long-awaited refresh?

The long-awaited refresh of the iPad Mini is finally here, but just how big an upgrade does the iPad Mini 5 represent? We compare it to the outgoing iPad Mini 4 in various categories to delve into the differences and pick a winner.