Motorola has launched the mid-priced 5G-upgradable moto z4 this week, the successor to last year's moto z3. With a 48-megapixel camera, night photography mode, two-day battery life and a handful of other welcome upgrades, the z3 is impressive for the price, but this comes at the expense of processor grunt.

At first glance, the moto z4 seems to suffer slightly from an identity crisis. It's a kinda-sorta 5G phone with a kinda-sort 48-megapixel camera, and while it's definitely a step-up from the moto z3, the processor is very much a step-down. Though some might find the offering a tad wishy-washy, that would be an underestimation. There are very few 5G-ready phones around, and even fewer at this price-point, and Motorola's clip-on moto mods give the phone some useful flexibility. More on those later.

So, first to the 5G aspect. It's not a 5G-phone per se, it's a 5G-upgradable phone. This is made possible with the optional 5G moto mod (with a built-in 2,000-mAh battery) which retails for US$349.99. This quickly pushes the moto z4 out of the mid-priced smartphone category, but Verizon is currently offering the mod at only $50 with certain plans. It would seem Verizon and Motorola are keen to get as many folks onto 5G as possible.

Next on the list is the camera. Yes, it's a 48-megapixel camera (the front camera sports an equally impressive 25-megapixel sensor) but this doesn't mean you get 48-megapixel photos. Motorola's QuadPixel method combines four pixels into one larger pixel, which it claims results in far less noise in your photos – since it has four times the light sensitivity – spitting out the final image at a still respectable 12 MP.

This extra sensitivity is behind the z4's dedicated Night-Mode and going by the images on the moto z4 landing site (an example can be seen below), it does the job admirably, no doubt aided by the optical image stabilization. Artificial Intelligence has been added to the camera functions too, with an option to shoot as soon as people smile, a Smart Composition mode which frames your snaps better, a portrait lighting mode and a quirky Spot Color mode. Choose the color you want to keep, and everything else becomes greyscale.

Physically, the moto z4 isn't too dissimilar from its predecessor. While the z4 is almost the same size (perhaps a millimeter wider and taller), the 19:9 OLED screen goes almost right up to the bezel (with a teardrop notch) measuring 6.4 inches compared to the 6.01 inches of the z3. Motorola has also wisely ditched the side-mounted fingerprint sensor and integrated it into the display instead. Oh and in a move which will be music to the ears of many, the headphone jack is back.

And of course there's the unique moto mods feature. There don't seem to be any new offerings for this phone – even the 5G moto mod has been out for a while and is compatible with the moto z3 – but that doesn't mean the roster is set in stone. The current range is wonderfully diverse, from battery-packs to JBL speakers, a game-pad and a projector. Even a camera add-on from Hasselblad. Since the moto mod developer program is still live, one can expect more crazy things to snap onto the back of your moto z4 in the future. The biggest problem is where to put them when you're not using them.

Internally, the z4 boasts a 3,600-mAh battery (for which Motorola claims 48 hours per charge usage), 4 GB of RAM, 128 GB of storage, an SD-card slot (for up to 2 TB of storage) and a Snapdragon 675 processor running Android 9 Pie.

Now this 600-series processor has caused a fair bit of chatter online. Yes, it's a step down from the 800-series processor in the moto z3, but this means Motorola can offer the z4 at an attractive price-point, while giving the phone its impressive battery life in the bargain. You lose some but you get some.

Motorola is selling the unlocked z4 for $499.99 in a bundle that includes the 360-degree camera moto mod ($199.99 RRP) for free. This deal will also be available at Best Buy, B&H Photo and on Amazon. As of yesterday, Verizon began offering the moto z4 in Flash Gray for $499.99, with a Frost White version expected later this summer.

For the those hoping for a Force version (shatterproof), the company has stated on Twitter that – for this year at least – there'll be no other moto z variants. The pitch video from Motorola can be seen below.

Source: Motorola US

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