Moto Mods: Should you Invest in 2018?

Are Moto Mods worth their price tag in Mid-2018

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The Short Answer:

Moto Mods fill niches that you may feel no one needs filled. They also fill gaps that you think, why did no one do this sooner? There are about a dozen mods however I will stick to the ones that I have and fill in the blanks where I feel most comfortable.

Style Shells:

Style Shells are probably one of the first Moto Mods you’ll pick up but use the least. They make your phone look nice but don’t add any functionality. I was unfortunately not sent any Style Shells however, my friend and fellow editor Josh Tabasso lent me one for a few hours. It was a wood grain Style Shell and I honestly wasn’t a fan of it. It bent easily in his bag and didn’t properly fit on my phone. The wood grain also didn’t feel as real as the Moto X and Moto X 2014 I had used in the past. A bit of a let down but it’s mostly just a way to make your phone feel whole.

Style Shell

Speaker Mods:

JBL Soundboost 2:

I had the privilege of using two different speaker mods. The JBL Soundboost 2 and the Alexa Speaker Mod. I unfortunately didn’t get much time with the Soundboost 2 mods. I was sent 2 speakers and they both had a crackly speaker. Motorola worked with me to try to assess the issue but no troubleshooting steps seemed to fix it. I have a feeling it’s a software issue however I won’t give you my thoughts on how the speaker sounded. I will say though that the speaker looked really nice. It has a cool looking and feeling fabric back. I would personally shoot for the red if I were to buy one. It was very striking and just stood out from all the other black or white accessories you’d normally see. The kickstand it had on it was useful as well, although it’s a little flimsy.

JBL Soundboost 2
Amazon Alexa:

If your house is packed to a brim with Amazon Echo products this Mod will fit right in. Summoning Alexa is as easy as calling her name just as you would any other Amazon product. The speaker on this device is very good as well. This Mod does block off the camera and makes the device into a smaller Echo Show. It’s nice because it’s portable and loud, however it blocks other functions of the device. When you purchase this device ensure you’re dedicated to Amazon’s Alexa and that you’ll be using this device for a long time. Alexa functionality unfortunately doesn’t work without an active sim.

The speaker on the Moto Z3 Play itself isn’t fantastic but it’s front facing which is nice. With any speaker mod you’re going to hear more bass and louder volumes without as much distortion. It’s nice to have a speaker you know will work and won’t randomly disconnect, as Bluetooth speakers tend to do. The main downside I see with the Moto Mod speakers is there is no Bluetooth or headphone input in case others want to play some tunes. If you’re someone who likes to hog the music or use a louder speaker for personal use then I say these mods are not a bad investment.

Gamepad Mod:

The gamepad mod is one of those niche mods you’re either going to love and find a million uses for, or ridiculous and rarely use. I have been using it on and off for the past month and although it’s a little small it’s a joy to use. I tend to use it to play emulators but many games on the Google Play Store with controller support will also support this. My one complaint about it is the giant light on the back. It sticks out and tells the whole world you’re playing a game on your phone. I wish it was a little more discrete.

I had also had some disconnecting issues however cleaning the contacts fixed that. A simple wipe with a cloth or a quick puff of air seemed to fix the issue. This mod though seemed to be more sensitive to dust and particles on the connector.

360 Camera:

The 360 camera is a half-baked accessory. It was created during the time where 360 pictures and videos were all the craze. Pictures come out blurry and are a hassle to swipe through. Taking 360 degree video was fun for a time, however it never seemed practical to me. I never had an opportunity where I felt “oh this situation really calls for a 360 picture”. The cameras didn’t age well either which made looking at the pictures grainy and unpleasant in most situations. I feel if the 360 camera were re-released today with better sensors and better image processing this could be a real hit. In today’s market though it was just too much effort to fish this out of a bag, hook it up, and only get seconds of enjoyment.

If I did have one positive point about this mod it would be the ultra-wide-angle selfies. The selfies weren’t necessarily crisp and clear; however, they can get a solid 5 or 6 people in a group selfie if you’re into that kind of stuff. Just don’t expect it to be an award-winning selfie. I would still say to use the front facing camera you have on your phone and only use this if you really want to get those few extra people.

Wide Angle Selfie on 360 Moto Mod

Polaroid Printer:

This Mod severely under performed. First off, the Mod part of it is only a formality, I feel. The Mod only runs over its own internal battery, and if you print more than 10 pictures you’re going to need to plug it back in. Those 10 pictures you print aren’t going to look fantastic either. I took an amazing picture of my dog, but when I printed it the colors became very muted. I don’t feel the printed picture was something I really wanted to share with others. It’s a cute gimmick but not a selling feature for the Moto Z series of phones. The unfortunate part is the price. At an MSRP of $200 this is not an easy price to swallow, especially on an accessory. I think your money would be better spent on another Moto Mod.

Mods I’d Like to Try:

5G Mod:

I really hope I will get to test this Mod in the future. 5G is going to be the future of mobile connectivity and if I could even get a taste of it I would be ecstatic. I also feel like Mods like this will set a good precedence for keeping phones updated. Even though this device will not have the most up to date specs it will be updated to support far more than the Snapdragon 835 could originally. I hope that this will encourage Motorola and other manufacturers to give older devices a second breath of life and keep them supported.

Projector Mod:

Mobile projectors have not been known for their quality, but I think Motorola was onto something when they released the projector mod with the original Moto Z. Giving customers the ability to share movies with their families in a large format setting is a great idea. I feel if the quality of the picture could have been boosted and the speaker on the Moto Z line was a little louder this could have been a viable option. I would still like to try it out to gain a better understanding of where this idea went wrong.

Are Moto Mods Worth it?

The short answer is, it depends. If you plan on staying with your Moto Z2 or Z3 for a while then I say pick up a few mods. Extra battery life or extra volume on your device is something you really can’t beat. Especially when it either comes with your device or it’s under $100. If you really think you’ll use the mod more than once a month then I say it’s worth the money. If you’re not sure if you’ll use it more than a couple times then I say save your money, the unplanned opportunities to use these big, niche products just aren’t there.

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